Judge Won’t Face Criminal Charges
A difference of opinion.
That’s the conclusion of an investigation into a charge by Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley that fellow Justice David Prosser put a chokehold on her when she told him to leave her office after a heated discussion.
Therefore, Justice Prosser will not face criminal charges.
“I believe a complete review of the report suggests there is a difference of opinion,” said Patricia Barrett, the Republican district attorney who served as special prosecutor in the case.
Touched her neck
Justice Walsh Bradley, a Democrat, accused Justice Prosser, a former Republican legislator, of choking her in June during a heated discussion on a legal challenge to the Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s contentious collective bargaining law, which strips most public workers of nearly all their union rights. The incident occurred the night before the court released an opinion upholding the law.
The Milwaukee Sentinal reported that Justice Prosser acknowledged to detectives that he touched Justice Walsh Bradley’s neck – even feeling its warmth.
According to the New York Times, Justice Walsh Bradley issued a statement saying she was never focused on prosecuting her colleague and only wanted to address a “workplace safety issue.”
“I well understand the difficulty of gaining any criminal conviction,” she said. “The prosecution’s burden of proof is very heavy, as it should be. I also know that criminal charges alone would not have addressed our safety in the workplace and the special prosecutor’s decision not to file charges does not resolve the safety issue, either.”
Earlier, Justice Walsh Bradley told The Milwaukee Sentinel: “The facts are that I was demanding that he get out of my office and he put his hands around my neck in anger in a chokehold.” Bradley said she asked Prosser to leave after he made allegedly disparaging remarks about Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson.
Justice Walsh Bradley is generally seen as part of the court’s three-justice liberal minority. Justice Prosser, a former Republican legislator, is considered part of the four-justice conservative majority.
Bradley said it was not the first time Prosser had flashes of extreme anger; “It’s been going on for years off and on.”
The Wisconsin Judicial Commission, which oversees the state’s ethics code for judges, is separately investigating the case.
Wisconsin law protects judges
Interestingly, Wisconsin has a special criminal statute that relates to a battery or threat against a judge. It states:
940.203 Battery or threat to judge …
(2) Whoever intentionally causes bodily harm or threatens to
cause bodily harm to the person or family member of any judge
under all of the following circumstances is guilty of a Class H felony:
(a) At the time of the act or threat, the actor knows or should
have known that the victim is a judge or a member of his or her
(b) The judge is acting in an official capacity at the time of the
act or threat or the act or threat is in response to any action taken
in an official capacity.
(c) There is no consent by the person harmed or threatened.
“Bodily harm” means physical pain or injury, illness, or any impairment of physical condition.
The penalty for a Class H felonyis a fine not to exceed $10,000 or imprisonment not to exceed 6 years, or both.