UPDATE: I'm now looking at the investigative file, here. I'll note the references to choking as I encounter them.
The first one is on page 3, from a report of the police interview with Justice Bradley's husband Mark Bradley. He said that on the evening after the incident, his wife — who had been "distraught" and "sobbing" — said "Dave put his hands around my neck to choke me." And: "Ann told him that that Justice Prosser grabbed her around the neck and Justice Roggensack separated them."
UPDATE 2: I'm reading the police report of the interview with Justice Annette Ziegler, and I see something that was also in the Mark Bradley interview: Immediately after the incident, Justice Bradley sat down at her desk and started typing. Ziegler said she thought that was inconsistent with having been choked and also noted that Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson didn't say anything that you'd expect her to say if she'd just seen Bradley choked. Ziegler also commented on the general work environment at the court: She called it "weird." She said that both Prosser and Bradley tend to speak in a "theatrical" style, and that Bradley is "up and down emotionally" while Prosser is "calm."
UPDATE 3: In the police report of the interview with Tina Noldolf, the Supreme Court Marshal, who had interviewed Justice Bradley the morning after the incident, Noldolf says that Bradley said that Prosser's "yelling" at the Chief Justice "caused Justice Bradley to stand up and walk swiftly towards Justice Prosser." Bradley said she "got in his personal space" and ordered him out of her office, at which point he "grabbed her by the throat." Bradley said that Justice Roggensack "assisted in separating" the 2 Justices and told Bradley she wasn't "acting like yourself" and "You didn't have to rush at Dave." Noldolf also interviewed Abrahamson, who demonstrated Prosser's action with "both of her hands on my neck" and "thumbs in front of my neck and her fingers wrapped around the back of my neck so that her palms were in contact with my neck." Abrahamson "was clear that both of Justice Prosser's hands were around Justice Bradley's neck." Abrahamson indicated that Prosser was "more of the aggressor."
UPDATE 4: Now, let's look at the police report of the interview with Justice Ann Walsh Bradley. According to this report, Bradley had been seated, reading Abrahamson's draft of the dissenting opinion, while Prosser and Abrahamson were arguing. Bradley says she said, "David we're no longer willing to put up with your yelling and abusive behavior," which caused Prosser to moderate his tone as he continued to pressure Abrahamson about getting the opinion out that evening. Bradley then says she noted that the chief justice had been working hard on the 18-page concurring opinion that they'd only received at 1:30 that day. There was some discussion about whether they'd been notified by email on Friday that there would be a concurring opinion, and Bradley went to her computer to look for the email (according to the police report). Prosser reportedly raised his voice again and said "Chief, I have lost confidence in your leadership."
Justice Bradley said she began to walk over toward where Justice Prosser was standing... As she got closer to him Justice Bradley told Justice Prosser, "Buddy don't raise your voice again. I'm no longer willing to put up with this." Justice Bradley described how she was now standing close to Justice Prosser and was "face to face to confront him." Justice Bradley stated that she was pointing with her left hand toward the door that was behind him and said, "You get out of my office."So, in her own version of the story, the physical aggression begins with Bradley. She said she wanted to convey that she "meant it." At this point "Justice Prosser grabbed her by the throat in what she described as a 'choke hold.'" She recalls yelling something like "Get your hands off my neck." Justice Roggensack pulled her back and said, "Ann, this isn't like you, you charged at him." To which Bradley responded: "I didn't touch him at all." [ADDED: I read that response as implicitly acknowledging that she did charge at him.][ADDED 2: In her second interview with the police, at page 34, Bradley says she addressed Prosser as "Buddy" because "Buddy puts me in control and them in the diminutive."]
Justice Bradley described herself as "feeling eerie" about the whole situation.Asked if she feared for her safety at the time, she said "not really." Immediately afterwards, she sat down and typed up what she called "an incident report." She said she soon called Justice Patrick Crooks (the one of the 7 Justices who was not present at the incident) and told him "Prosser just put me in a choke hold."
Interestingly, Abrahamson did not talk to Bradley after the alleged choking. She kept talking to Ziegler, according to Bradley's statement to the police, as Bradley typed up her report and talked to Crooks on the phone. Then, Abrahamson left for dinner, and Bradley subsequently went home and talked to her husband about what to do. Why wasn't Abrahamson involved in any of that? Was it that the incident was inconsequential?
UPDATE 5: 2 days after the incident, there was a conference with all 7 justices and Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs. Bradley, according to her police interview, had a typed-up speech to read to the justices.
Justice Bradley said at one point during the meeting, Justice Prosser was talking with Chief Tubbs about having his hands up on Justice Bradley's shoulders. Justice Bradley said she then corrected Justice Prosser by telling him, "No Dave, they were around my neck." Justice Bradley said Justice Prosser did not deny having his hands around her neck and she corrected him and said, "Your hands were around my neck in a choke hold." Justice Bradley said she repeated this quote several times throughout the meeting as if it was a "mantra."So, clearly, Bradley herself was quite committed to the idea that there was a chokehold. Bradley said that Prosser characterized what she was doing as a "threat":
"Justice Bradley is threatening to go public if I don't go to counseling." Justice Bradley said Justice Prosser continued saying "Justice Bradley and the Chief Justice have been threatening me for years."Threatening him for years? The Bradley interview report goes on to accuse Prosser of "making verbal threats."
Justice Bradley said Justice Prosser would go, "Months without having outbursts, but then just goes off." She also said, "You never know what will set him off." Justice Bradley also feels as though Justice Prosser is paranoid and feels like it is getting worse. Justice Bradley feels as though Justice Prosser's anger is focused towards Chief Justice Abrahamson.UPDATE 6: Next is the interview with Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson. Like Bradley, she said that what launched Bradley out of her chair was Prosser's statement to that he had lost confidence in Abrahamson. In Abrahamson's version, Bradley "walk[ed] toward Prosser.
The Chief Justice did not recall seeing Justice Bradley's hands raised as she walked by her. Chief Justice stated if there was some sort of gesture, it was non-threatening and it wasn't one that stood out to her. She recalled Justice Bradley might have been motioning towards the door, telling Justice Prosser he needed to "get out of the office."Might have been motioning... did not recall... These are careful statements.
The Chief Justice stated she did not see Justice Bradley's fist being raised at any time.Did she see a fist at all? A non-raised fist?
The Chief Justice said at the point Justice Bradley stood up, it was apparent to her that Justice Prosser's anger seemed very focused and directed towards the herself and not towards Justice Bradley.
The Chief Justice said when Justice Bradley approached Justice Prosser, she observed Justice Prosser put both his hands up and put them on the neck area of Justice Bradley. From the Chief' Justice's vantage point, it did not appear as though Justice Prosser exerted any pressure. She stated "I got the impression there wasn't any pressure because 1 didn't see her eyes bulge or hear her gasp for a breath". The Chief Justice also said "1 did not see her turn color."So it wasn't an all-out strangling! No one asserted that. But there's a big difference between that — which no one asserted — and the mere putting the hands up in defense — which is what other witnesses saw. "Put them on the neck area" is quite neutral, but it seems as though she's not asserting that Prosser did that out of hostility toward Bradley. It's rather consistent with the version of the story that has Prosser merely reacting in a self-defensive reflex.
The Chief Justice was not watching Justice Prosser's face at all. She did not recall Justice Prosser saying a word during their physical contact.That is, Abrahamson provides no evidence that Prosser had an aggressive intent. In her account, Prosser does not advance toward Bradley or do anything other than put his hands up. The hands are "on" — not around — the neck. There's no pressure. And there's no anger.
Abrahamson agrees with other witnesses who said that Roggensack pulled Bradley "away from Justice Prosser's grasp." (I note that the word "grasp" suggests more was going on than the hands-up/on language the police used above.) Abrahamson agrees that Roggensack said "it wasn't like Ann."
Abrahamson said that she thought Prosser should have backed away when Bradley came at him but "instead he went right for the throat." There's no discussion of the relative height of the Justices. It has been noted that Bradley is taller than Prosser, and that a man has limited options in holding off a woman who is coming at him. But Abrahamson thinks Bradley had already stopped and that Prosser extended his arms forward. [ADDED: Reading farther into the file, I see that the often-repeated belief that Bradley is tall is false. Bradley is 5'3" and Prosser is 5'9".]
Although Abrahamson said Prosser had never made physical contact before, she said he had "outburst" and was "disruptive" at times. She used the term "temper tantrums" and said she "had talked to some of her colleagues and friends about his behavior in the past to try and get outside opinions on how to deal with Justice Prosser." [ADDED: Justice Bradley said "You never know what will set him off," and Abrahamson said "you never know what's going to set him off." Interesting phrase! You could say that if you're always trying to set somebody off, and only rarely finding the button.]
UPDATE 7: Wisconsin Supreme Court Human Resources Officer Margaret Brady was interviewed because she spoke with Abrahamson the day after the incident and because she attended the June 15th meeting with all the justices (and Chief Tubbs). Brady said that after Bradley gave her prepared speech, repeatedly using the term "chokehold," "Justice Roggensack said that everybody was committed to having a harassment free work environment, and 'You, Ann, went berserk. He wasn't putting pressure on your neck.'"
Brady quotes Prosser:
[H]e was "about one yard from Justice Bradley's office when Ann rushed at me with her fist in my face." Justice Prosser said, "Yeah, I said that I lost faith in the Chief Justice." Justice Prosser said he had "an instantaneous reaction to what happened" and that he felt he had four options of how to deal with it.Brady didn't write down the 4 options, and, presumably, the reason Prosser chose the one he did (and what, exactly, it was). She did record that he said "two members of the court have made the job unpleasant and 'a deliberate scheme of intended abuse.'" [ADDED: In Prosser's interview, he said he could have pushed her head, her neck, her shoulders, or done nothing. But these are just "intellectual options," not anything he considered in the moment.] Justice Ziegler, according to Brady, spoke more generally about how to improve relations on the court, and Bradley "interrupted" to refocus on the "chokehold."
Justice Roggensack said, "If you are requesting that Justice Prosser get counseling, you both need help."At that point, Brady said, "the tension in the room was as high as it was in the Capitol on March 9th during the protests."
Justice Bradley responded by saying, "Stop enabling him."
Brady described Bradley, unlike all the other justices (who are reserve), is "very animated" and "effusive." According to Brady, "it was not uncommon for Justice Bradley to talk with her hands or make a fist when she is talking to someone.... Margaret said if you were to ask someone in her office to imitate Justice Bradley, it would be very uncommon if they did not put their fist in the air and talk." This observation cuts 2 ways. On the one hand, it makes it seem more likely that Bradley was waving fists about that day. On the other hand — and this is Brady's interpretation — fist-waving is, for Bradley, an "extension of her expression" and "a very nonthreatening gesture."
[ADDED: In Prosser's interview, he said "he believes the Chief Justice uses Margaret as 'a prop', and she invites her to meetings when she wants to try to intimidate employees, no matter who the employees are."]
UPDATE 8: I'm reading the about the second interview with Justice Bradley, and this is on page 34 it says: "Justice Bradley said for someone to say that she had raised a fist to somebody would be completely out of character for her." A big discrepancy with Brady's statement (just above)? Perhaps you could distinguish "nonthreatening" fist waving and raising a fist to somebody. This interview also contains Bradley's description of trying to "calm" Justice Prosser down by "mimicking him." He was once pounding on the table while talking and she began to pound on the table the same way. Now, is that a way to calm somebody down or a way to wind them up?
UPDATE 9: Finally, the report of the interview with Justice Prosser. Prosser had his lawyer with him and recorded the interview. There is a long description of the substance of the argument among the judges, which culminating in Prosser's statement: "Chief Justice, I have lost confidence in your ability to lead this court." What others have described as "yelling" he calls speaking "with a lot of control."
Justice Prosser said immediately after he made this comment to the Chief Justice that Justice Bradley "charged me." Justice Prosser also described it as, "she exploded out of that room." Justice Prosser said prior to charging him, he said he believes that she was approximately two feet from the threshold of the doorway, inside of her office. Justice Prosser said she had gone approximately five feet total to get from where she was to him. Justice Prosser said he did not believe he moved an inch, he knew he never moved towards her, but he does not recall if he moved back at all. Justice Prosser said he could not initially exit because of the credenza behind him.
Justice Prosser said as he was telling the Chief Justice that he has lost confidence in her leadership his forearms were parallel to the ground with his hands and fingers extended out. Justice Prosser said he talks with his hands generally. Justice Prosser said again that Justice Bradley had "charged at me, it's simple as that" and she came out of her office towards him. Justice Prosser said he has heard some stories that she walked towards him and he said, "No, she charged at me". When she got near him, he said her right fist was in his face. Justice Prosser said as he was approached by Justice Bradley he believes that his hands came up slightly as he leaned backward, "It's as simple as that". Justice Prosser then said, "Did my hands touch her neck, yes, I admit that. Did I try to touch her neck, no, absolutely not, it was a total reflex".Prosser asserted that Bradley never ordered him to get out of her office. She was "screaming something, and when his hands came in contact with her neck, he does not remember her saying anything about choking her, he remembers her saying, 'Don't you ever put your hands on me.'"
By the way, contrary to what I've read elsewhere, it turns out Prosser is 5'9" and Bradley is 5'3".
Justice Prosser had no recollection of what he thought during this because it happened so fast. Justice Prosser said when his hands came in contact with Justice Bradley's neck, his thought was immediately, "Oh my god, I'm touching her neck." It was immediately after this that Justice Bradley said "don't you ever put your hands on me." Justice Prosser said he does not remember her saying anything about him choking her. Justice Prosser said he was stunned by what happened....
Justice Prosser said he believed his hands had open palms and were facing Justice Bradley. Justice Prosser described what he did as a "blocking move" because of how Justice Bradley was coming at him. Justice Prosser said, "I remember feeling her neck." Justice Prosser went on to say that he remembers the warmth on the side of Justice Bradley's neck in his hands as his hands were touching her neck. Justice Prosser said he never squeezed Justice Bradley's neck at any point, and said that his hands were definitely on Justice Bradley's neck versus her shoulders. Justice Prosser said it was a "total reaction to what was happening." We asked Justice Prosser if he recalled what fingers may have touched Justice Bradley's neck, and how they were touching Justice Bradley's neck. Justice Prosser said he could not recall the exact location of his fingers, and he could not recall how many fingers were touching Justice Bradley's neck either during this time. He said he could only recall the warmth in Justice Bradley's neck. Justice Prosser said several times during our contact that this whole incident lasted "a split second". This included the time from Justice Bradley "charging" at him, his reaction with his hands on her neck, to him removing his hands from her neck. Justice Prosser said he had no recollection of his thumbs on Justice Bradley's neck at any point. Justice Prosser could only recall his fingers touching the side of her neck, with one hand on either side of her neck. Justice Prosser said at no point did he squeeze or apply any pressure.
Justice Prosser said, "What does any self respecting man do when suddenly that man finds that his hands, or part of his hands are on a woman's neck? Get them off the neck as soon as possible". Justice Prosser said this was a "reflexive move". He said he was not hitting her or anything else. Justice Prosser said he did not say anything to Justice Bradley during this time and he does not recall her saying anything to him at this time either. Justice Prosser said he only recalls Justice Bradley saying, "don't you ever put your hands on me", and then telling him to get out of her office. Justice Prosser said Justice Bradley either stepped back, or somebody had pulled her back, but he did not know who would have pulled her back. Justice Prosser said he believed he went limp after he took his hands away from Justice Bradley's neck. Justice Prosser said he did not believe Justice Bradley was angry or upset prior to the time that she "charged me," but when she was telling him "don't you ever put your hands on me" and "get out of my office" she was screaming at him.Prosser said he simply reacted quickly, without thinking and without having time to feel afraid. He said Bradley looked very angry, and he knows she doesn't like him. He thought there might be to the suggestion, offered by the police, that Bradley felt "a protective instinct for the Chief Justice , and he volunteered that Abrahamson might have some sort of "control" over Bradley.
UPDATE 10: Now we come to the interview with Rachel Graham, the law clerk for Justice Bradley. She overheard the incident. She didn't see it, so her statement is mainly a corroboration of various quotations.
Next is Justice Patience Roggensack:
Justice Roggensack said when Justice Bradley approached Justice Prosser, Justice Prosser raised his hands and put his hands up near Justice Bradley's neck, but his hands were "never in a choke hold." Justice Roggensack said she recalled Justice Bradley saying something to the effect of "don't put your hands on me." Justice Roggensack again stated Justice Bradley had a fist up at this time. Justice Roggensack then said she wanted to make it clear that at no point did Justice Prosser have Justice Bradley in a chokehold, and Justice Prosser never applied pressure with his hands on Justice Bradley. Justice Roggensack said as soon as Justice Prosser's hands were placed on Justice Bradley, she got in between the two of them and she immediately told Justice Bradley that this was not like her.Roggensack said that what caused Bradley to "walk with rapidity" towards Prosser was his statement to Abrahamson that he's lost confidence in her leadership. Prosser had never been arguing with Bradley. Roggensack said that Prosser's hands made contact with Bradley's neck but he never "choked" her.
Justice Roggensack said Justice Bradley had always been a sort of protector for the Chief Justice because they go back a long way and they are friends. Justice Roggensack said if she had not got in between the two of them, she believes Justice Bradley would have "smacked him in the face with her fist." Justice Roggensack said everything happened really fast during this incident. Justice Roggensack said Justice Prosser should have walked away from the incident and Justice Bradley should not have come at him the way she did. Justice Roggensack said in her opinion, "they were both out of line and they were both very angry." Justice Roggensack again said Justice Bradley was "trying to get at him with her fists." Justice Roggensack said she did not recall what was said between Justices Bradley and Prosser as Justice Bradley was approaching him during the incident.
Roggensack faults both Bradley and Prosser, even though "she could not say if Justice Prosser's reaction was justified, and she could not say whether or not Justice Prosser had any choice but to place his hands on Justice Bradley." Apparently, the speed of Bradley's movement toward Prosser made it hard for her to judge Prosser's reaction.
At the meeting on June 15th, "Justice Roggensack said Justice Bradley mentioned how Justice Prosser had her in a chokehold, and Justice Roggensack responded by saying he did not have her in a chokehold at any point. Justice Bradley responded to her by saying 'that's because you stopped him.' Justice Roggensack told Justice Bradley that she did not stop him from anything, and added, 'I stopped you from hitting him.' Justice Roggensack said Justice Bradley did not react or respond to her making this statement."
Roggensack described Bradley as Abrahamson's protector:
Justice Roggensack believed Justice Bradley was the person that released the info to the press regarding the incident from February 2010 in which Justice Prosser had called the Chief Justice a bitch. Justice Roggensack said that was a closed meeting during which this was said. Justice Roggensack said she recalls during that meeting the Chief Justice was "needling" Justice Prosser at that time, and added that she felt the Chief Justice was "needling" Justice Prosser when they met with her on June 13, 2011 in Justice Bradley's office. Justice Roggensack said when Justice Prosser gets needled by the Chief Justice, and begins to react and respond to the Chief Justice; Justice Bradley steps in right away to protect the Chief Justice.Oh, lord, that is such lowly office politics! It's not criminal, though. Roggensack thought both Bradley and Prosser could use some anger management lessons.
UPDATE 11: Justice Crooks wasn't present for the incident, so let's concentrate on his statements about the work environment generally. He relates a story of Justice Prosser calling him a "viper" back in 1999. Interestingly, the problem at the time was that Prosser was supporting Shirley Abrahamson in her bid for reelection and Crooks was not.
Justice Crooks said he has noted Justice Prosser "loses his cool repeatedly." Justice Crooks has witnessed Justice Prosser get red and pound on tables with his fists, and get louder and louder in tone during meetings, conferences and sometimes even during public meetings. Justice Crooks said there are times that nothing happens that trigger Justice Prosser losing his cool. Justice Crooks said he estimated Justice Prosser "explodes and storms out of a room" approximately three to four times a year.Crooks goes on to talk about who he feels "he has to watch what he says to Justice Prosser at all times." He thinks Prosser should get anger management therapy or something more and guessed that he might be "paranoid or something" (after Prosser said — supposedly — that he thought the Dane County judges and police are corrupt).
Justice Crooks said on February 22, 2010, he and Justice Bradley met with John Voelker, Director of State Courts, and Margaret Brady, asking that something be done about Justice Prosser because they felt there was an escalation in violence. This meeting was a result of a February 10, 2010 closed meeting with the Justices, during which, Justice Prosser made the comment to the Chief Justice, "You are a terrible chief. If you do not wi thdraw you are going to be destroyed". The Chief Justice had responded by saying, "Are you threatening me?" and Justice Prosser said, "Yes, ... you are a bitch" and added, "There will be a war against you and it will not be a ground war". Justice Crooks and Bradley had concerns for the Chief Justice after this, and therefore went to speak with Voelker and Brady. Justice Crooks said both his law clerk and assistants had told him they felt they were working in "a hostile work environment."...
After the February 2010 incident, Justice Crooks said the chief justice had a friend, who is either a psychiatrist or psychologist; evaluate Justice Prosser's behavior. Justice Crooks said the behavior was evaluated only by what the Chief Justice told the psychiatrist at the time. The psychiatrist had not talked to anybody about Justice Prosser's behavior, including Justice Prosser. Justice Crooks said the psychiatrist believed that it would be highly unlikely Justice Prosser's behavior would escalate to any sort of violence. Justice Crooks said that it was clear, based on the June 13, 2011 incident, that the psychiatrist was wrong.
UPDATE 12: Finally, there's Justice Michael Gableman:
Justice Gableman said after the chief justice told them that she might not be ready with her decision until the end of the month, Justice Prosser then, while hunched forward and hands together as if he was praying, said in a "meek and intently sincere" voice, "Chief I have lost total confidence in your leadership." Justice Gableman said he was not shouting, there was no volume to his voice, there was no swearing, it was not said in a hostile way, and added that it was "a fairly unremarkable comment".Here's that photograph.
Justice Gableman said it was this comment that he believes prompted Justice Bradley to rush over to Justice Prosser. Justice Gableman said he had not seen Justice Bradley in her office from where he was standing, until she was "rushing towards Justice Prosser" out of her office. Justice Gableman said Justice Bradley got within approximately one foot of Justice Prosser and had what he believed was her right fist in his face. Justice Gableman said he recalled Justice Bradley's blue glasses in her right fist at this time because he remembered thinking that her glasses were about to break. Justice Gableman said Justice Bradley's fist was going towards and away from Justice Prosser's face in almost a punching motion. Justice Gableman said he wanted to make clear that Justice Bradley's fist was not going up and down, but rather in and out towards and away from Justice Prosser during this incident. Justice Gableman said Justice Bradley's fist was in Justice Prosser's face and came within about an inch every time she would extend her fist while speaking to Justice Prosser. Justice Gableman said Justice Bradley was telling Justice Prosser, "You have no right to talk to the chief justice that way." Justice Gableman said Justice Prosser had "a look of shock and surprise" and described him as "looking up" at Justice Bradley. Justice Gableman believes Justice Bradley is a little bit taller than Justice Prosser. Justice Gableman then used the analogy of a photograph regarding President Johnson where he is talking to and leaning over a senator.
Justice Gableman said he recalled Justice Roggensack saying, "Ann this isn't the person you are. This isn't you." Justice Gableman believed Justice Roggensack was pulling on Justice Bradley's left arm at this time. Justice Gableman said Justice Prosser raised his hands and "pushed" Justice Bradley in "a defensive move". Justice Gableman said he believed Justice Prosser's hands were on the area where the shoulders meet the neck on Justice Bradley at this time. Justice Gableman said it was not a violent push, and after a brief pause he recalled Justice Bradley saying, "you choked me, you choked me." Justice Gableman said he immediately responded to Justice Bradley by saying "he didn't choke you, he pushed you to get your fist out of his face."I didn't notice that anyone else corroborated that quote. Gableman also misjudged the relative heights of Bradley and Prosser, so I don't know what to make of this story he tells about an incident in 2008:
Justice Gableman said he had been on the court for approximately one month at the time, and while in a meeting with the other justices, Justice Crooks was reading the horoscopes.Horoscopes!
Justice Gableman said he remembers making a comment to the chief justice in a joking manner and used her first name, Shirley, during this comment towards her.The old line from "Airplane!"?
Justice Gableman said right after he said the chief justice's first name, Justice Bradley came over to him, hit him on the back of the head and told him that he needed to show respect to the chief.Hit him in the head!
That's enough for now. I've read the entire file and summarized or copied what seemed most useful here. I'll reread this tomorrow and pull out a few things and make some observations.