"'... We understand the public has lost respect for some justices and perhaps even come to doubt the court's credibility. We understand there are bitter divisions that occasionally explode into personal attacks. We agree with the public that physical attacks have no place in the court. More important, we understand the need to do something. We're going to spend a weekend on retreat with a mediator who will help us deal with our differences so that they don't ever again blow up into physical attacks or fistfights or chokeholds or altercations that demean this office.'"
Asks the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. How can you write that out and not immediately see the answer to your own question? Judges just don't do things like that. It would be great for the Wisconsin Supreme Court to figure out a way to look like... a court. (And by "court," I mean the ideal of a court possessed by ordinary citizens who care about the role of the courts in a democratic system.) But a news conference like that wouldn't seem judicial at all. Bringing in an outside mediator, turning yourselves into a geriatric therapy group — how can talking about that work?
Judges are supposed to work out their human frailty problems outside of public view. Which is why the "chokehold" incident should never have been leaked to the press. That's why my writing on the subject has focused on who leaked and why. I would like to think that it was someone other than one of the Justices, someone who didn't understand the stakes for the prestige of the court. If it was, in fact, one of the Justices, what was the reason? Why would you damage the reputation of the court like that instead of working on resolving the problems quietly internally?
And don't tell me: Because choking somebody is a serious crime! If it were that straightforward, the choker should have been arrested — or the charge should have come to light — shortly after the incident. Instead, a politically partisan journalist broke the story 12 days later. Someone made a decision to go public through him, and that makes it look like a political tactic. Is that someone a supreme court justice? Intolerable.