March 20, 2012

We need to see the internal records of the Wisconsin Judicial Commission in the case against Justice Prosser.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser — who has been charged with 3 counts of judicial misconduct in the notorious "chokehold" incident — wants the Wisconsin Judicial Commission "to release records of its deliberations in the matter to allow him and others to determine whether the commission was... politically biased against him":
"As far as I'm concerned, I don't think I have anything to hide here," Prosser said. "I don't know who made the complaints. I don't know what their (commission members') votes were. I don't know if it was a unanimous vote or not a unanimous vote."...

Prosser... charged that the Judicial Commission's makeup is inherently biased because five of the nine members are appointed by the sitting governor, who is a partisan.

In his case, at least some of those who participated in discussion about the ethics charges against Prosser, a former Republican speaker of the Assembly, were appointees of former Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle.
I want to see the internal records. Judicial ethics matter, but who's watching the ethics of the ethics watcher, the Judicial Commission? The people have a compelling interest in seeing what happened.



Why, for example, was there no charge against Justice Bradley, who, based on the police investigation, which I've read, seems to have charged across the room at Prosser and was perhaps waving fists in his face, causing him to make a reflexive, defensive move that touched her. And she seems to have accused him of putting her in a "chokehold," which none of testimony (from 6 of the 7 justices) supports.

Why take what Prosser did out of context? That alone raises an inference of bias on the Commission.
The commission's executive director, James Alexander, declined to say which members participated in the decision or decisions to seek discipline against Prosser or how they voted....

Under the law, confidentiality can only be waived in writing by the judge facing discipline. Prosser said he will confer with his attorneys, Keven Reak and Gregg Gunta of Wauwatosa, to decide whether to ask the commission to open up its records. He said he testified before seven of the nine commission members on Sept. 23 for three hours, and for another hour in front of six members on Dec. 16, but was not present for any votes.

"The truth of the matter was, they were not interested in what my defense was or any provocation for my action," Prosser said. "They were only interested in my conduct."
Prosser must waive confidentiality first. He's going public with his assertion that the Commission was biased, but he still needs to talk to lawyers about whether to waive confidentiality. If he does, I assume the Commission will have to release the records to rebut the inference of bias. If, on the other hand, after making the accusation of bias, Prosser fails to waive confidentiality, I think Prosser should resign and let Scott Walker appoint a replacement.

Also at the first link: Prosser takes the position that all of the Supreme Court Justices should recuse themselves in his case — including Patrick Crooks, the one Justice who was not a participant/eyewitness. I don't see why Crooks must recuse, though I do see that it would be odd to let one justice decide alone. I would be much more distressed about his possible bias — he votes with the liberal justices — if we did not have the security of knowing that if Prosser is driven out, a conservative governor will name the new justice.

ADDED: It occurs to me that, if "confidentiality can only be waived in writing by the judge facing discipline," a waiver might also be needed from Justice Bradley. Didn't she face discipline too? If not, why not?

25 comments:

Richard Dolan said...

What a circus, overloaded as it is with so many contestants for the role of clown. Does no one in Wisconsin see how damaging this is to public confidence in the courts or other institutions of government?

Fire them all and start from scratch. You could hardly do worse.

Harsh Pencil said...

Question: Can Prosser be removed if found guilty? If not, then he should just stonewall. Tell them all to f*ck off and just go about his day.

Petunia said...

If they're going to go after Prosser, they need to go after Bradley too. She is the ONLY person who was there who used the word "chokehold", and then only AFTER the initial accounts. Even the chief justice's account doesn't back Bradley's version of things.

This state is just becoming too disgusting. If it weren't for my family and Packers season tickets I'd be long gone.

Alex Ignatiev said...

What a vile group of people the WI Supreme Court is. I was born and raised in Franklin, and I have always prided myself on my Wisconsin roots. When my family moved to Michigan, even until I graduated from high school, I identified myself as a Wisconsinite.

That's changed, over the years. But I cannot help but feel a twinge of shame, and some deep regret for my family members who still live in Wisconsin, one of the most beautiful states in the union.

James said...

Yesterday it was reported that Franklin Gimbel, the lead investigator for the Judicial Commission, and at least four members of the Commission signed recall petitions against Walker. So its not surprising to see this continued harrassment of Justice Prosser.

traditionalguy said...

So the Commission was not interested in listening to Prosser's defense citing attack upon him by Bradley.

That sounds like an application of rules used to prohibit Family Violence, this time within the Court's Family. Which sounds bad for Prosser.

In the family violence arena a man who raises his hand to block a woman's attack towards him is per se a violent offender in need of restraint.

That throw away of Justice is excused by an overriding need to send a message of no tolerance to men. The police are tired of being called to the scene of he said, she said event among people who chose to live together.

This " no justice for you" message says to move out and leave each other alone.

But how does a Government Constitutional officer just move out?
Prosser deserves justice.

David said...

Without doubt the records should be made public. And Prosser should be permitted the usual discovery, which would include the email communications of the members of the commission and its staff. The need for confidentiality to protect the accused is obvious, but no one else should hide behind this confidentiality screen. Let the public see exactly what has happened.

I'm a little less sure of the recusals. Traditionally recusals are in the discretion of the judge not a subject of compulsion. I see the point of having Justice Bradley recuse herself (if she will not it's telling) but the others don't seem to be to be compromised by the simple fact that they witnessed the incident. They may be compromised by their inherent bias, but there's not much that can be done about that. This is the body that has been given the power to decide the matter.

I knew one of the members of the Judicial Commission, John Dawson, quite well. I find it completely unimaginable that John would have done anything other than give the matter a fair and unbiased hearing. That's the way John approached everything in life--with fairness and integrity. It would be quite interesting to learn how individual commission members conducted themselves.

Patrick said...

The linked article wasn't clear about how the complaint was made, or how the Commission obtains jurisdiction. It may be that there are no charges pending against Justice Bradley because no one filed such a charge. Can the Commission initiate such a charge on its own? If not, that could be why Justice Bradley faces no charge.

damikesc said...

If they're going to go after Prosser, they need to go after Bradley too.


Their argument seems to be that it is OK for a female judge to assault a male judge, but self-defense is verboten?

Man, I can now SEE why some feminists argue that women are treated unfairly in this country. Men get all the breaks, apparently.

"You broke her hand, Judge Prosser"
"But she punched me in the face..."
"We don't care about what SHE did, David"

Apparently, Judging While Male is about to become a crime in some areas...

James said...

I seem to recall that Justice Prosser did file a complaint against Justice Bradley with the Judicial Commission. I also recall he filed the complaint immediately after the incident, even before it became news.

TCB-n-a-Flash said...

I find it entertaining, with my Waukesha County family roots, to see Dane County and Madison, go down kicking and screaming as they loose control of the State. They have had too much concentrated power for too long. They are frothing at the mouth, throwing away any ounce of credibility the once had.

Walker is playing them, by exposing them.

Dane doesn't care about any Wisconsinites outside its boarders. When's the last time someone in Madison ate a raw beef on rye with onions and black pepper?

As the Professor has asked in a past post, is this a Red and White State, or Green and Gold?

This type of Banana Republic corruption will not go unnoticed. Keep it up Madison. The times they are a changin'.

garage mahal said...

Yesterday it was reported that Franklin Gimbel, the lead investigator for the Judicial Commission, and at least four members of the Commission signed recall petitions against Walker. So its not surprising to see this continued harrassment of Justice Prosser.

None of the judicial commission members signed a recall. You got to stop trusting Media Trackers. Sorry, they lie.

Hoosier Daddy said...

That is some state you have there.

Bob Ellison said...

This would be easier if we didn't start with the assumption that judges are wise and just. They can be, but obviously they sometimes are not.

Ex-prosecutor said...

The Code of Judicial Ethics applicable in Wisconsin, at Wisconsin Supreme Court Rule 60.04(4)(c), provides that a judge must recuse himself/herself from conducting any proceeding in which the judge is a "material witness."

There is absolutely no question that the other justices must recuse themselves from a determination as to whether Justice Prosser should be disciplined. A judge cannot be both a judge and a decider.

Irv Fishkin said...

Let a thousand flowers bloom - splatter all of the records on a website.

Curious George said...

"garage mahal said...
Yesterday it was reported that Franklin Gimbel, the lead investigator for the Judicial Commission, and at least four members of the Commission signed recall petitions against Walker. So its not surprising to see this continued harrassment of Justice Prosser.

None of the judicial commission members signed a recall. You got to stop trusting Media Trackers. Sorry, they lie."

Gimbel did.

Alex said...

What a vile group of people the WI Supreme Court is.

Elected by the vile residents of Wisconsin!

Alex said...

Garage - you liar!

garage mahal said...

Gimbel did

He is not on the judicial commission, nor did he have a vote. He also endorsed Prosser last year, and was hired by the commission only after they decided to file charges on Prosser.

Not that the recall of Walker has anything to do with Prosser. Unless you think Prosser is joined at the hip with Walker?

Martin said...

This is Satta, not "Martin" as the "... said" line might show.

From jsonline.com:

QUOTE/ In the past, Gimbel, a longtime criminal defense attorney, has contributed to a number of Democrats, including Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and former Gov. Jim Doyle, and a few Republicans, such as ex-Gov. Tommy Thompson. Gimbel also signed the petition to recall Walker.

"That has nothing to do with anything," Gimbel said." /END QUOTE

Roger J. said...

I have no dog in this fight, but given the professor's coverage of events in Wisconsin, I would be interested in knowing if other states are as fucked up as WI. I suspect they are, but there isnt enough real coverage of local politis to draw any conclusions.

traditionalguy said...

The Prossercution continues. And it's a marathon one.

And the news that Prosser is accused of choking her neck is to be repeated with every day's report of another event along the legal way.

I sense that the Prosser haters are out to irritate David into another angry response.

WineSlob said...

There's No Way Prosser Could Strangle
Bradley with Her Throat at that Angle
With Her Head up Her Ass
Dave Couldn't Reach Past
The Sphincterhold in Which Her Neck Was Entangled.

EDH said...

Justice Prosser was falsely tried
The crime was judicial misconduct guess who testified
Justice Ann Walsh Bradley and she baldly lied
And the newspapers they all went along for the ride
How can the life of such a man
Be in the palm of some fool's hand ?
To see him obviously framed
Couldn't help but make me feel ashamed to live in a land
Where justice is a game.