Justice Undone in Wisconsin

Call it a classic boondoggle, a catch 22, or a legal conundrum – it is an outrage.  It happened at Wisconsin’s highest legal level and now YOU are the only ones that can do anything about it.  It happened like this:

  • Elected official is accused of violating the law.
  • Investigators concurred and filed a complaint to a jury panel for disposition.
  • Accused convinces some of the witnesses to recuse themselves.
  • Witnesses are also prospective jury members
  • Jury is now without a quorum and does not act.
  • There is no official higher authority to hear the case.
  • Accused is not required to officially answer the allegations nor refute them.
  • Was justice circumvented?  Who knows.  We can only suspect.

The conundrum is that the violation(s) took place in the presence of the prospective jury members and there were no other witnesses.  In other words, witnesses refused to act.

The investigators are the Wisconsin Judicial Commission (WJC),which is charged with investigating allegations of misconduct by members of the Wisconsin Judiciary.

The elected official, the accused, is Associate Justice David T Prosser, Jr.

The jury in this case is the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

In March 2012, the Commission issued a judicial misconduct complaint listing violations to three articles of the Wisconsin Code of Judicial Conduct primarily related to Justice Prosser’s alleged physical contact with Justice Ann Walsh Bradley her office in June 2011, i.e., his hands circling her throat, “skin-to-skin”.  Click here to read full text of the complaint[1].

In March 2012, Justice Prosser asked fellow Justices to recuse themselves from the issue [2].  By August 2012, three had done so [3].  The recused witnesses are Justices Michael Gableman, Annette Ziegler and Pat Roggensack.  These three plus Justice Prosser are considered the “conservative block” of the Court and act in unison in all major cases.

On 13 February 2013, Justice Bradley broke her silence with a thorough written statement addressed to the WJC explaining the events before, on and after 13 June 2011.   She asserts a history beginning more than 16 months earlier of Justice Prosser’s abusive conduct.   Eventually, his conduct was considered a threat to the personal safety of both Justice Bradley and Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson.  Justice Bradley further claims that Justices Roggensack and Gableman denied the facts to the WJC.  Click here to read Justice Bradley’s statement[4].  It is a fascinating and disturbing read.

At this point, only the Court of Public Opinion can act as a higher authority, albeit an unofficial one.  That means only YOU, the readers, can have an influence in righting this degradation of our Supreme Court.  You do so by casting your vote for Law Professor Edward Fallone on 2 April 2013 to replace sitting Justice Pat Roggensack.

References:

[1]  Wisconsin Judicial Commission, Complainant v. The Honorable David T. Prosser, Jr. , Respondent 

[2]  “Justice Prosser Attempts To Kill Ethics Case Against Him By Asking All Colleagues To Recuse Themselves“, by Josh Israel, published by ThinkProgress.org

[3]  “Conservative Wisconsin Justices Immunize Fellow Justice From Choking Allegations“, by Ian Millhiser, published by ThinkProgress.org

[4] Justice Bradley’s recusal statement to WJC dated 13 February 2013

[5]  “Justice Ann Walsh Bradley Deserves Honor and Respect“, editorial by The Cap Times

[6]  “Why You Must Vote in April “, by Estella Lauder, DPDC Newsletter

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