When we last checked in with the justices of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, one justice stood accused of allegedly choking a bitch in chambers (no, not the “total bitch” that he had previously threatened to “destroy” — another one). Although the kerfuffle did not result in any criminal charges, it seems that Justice David Prosser isn’t as charismatic as Wayne Brady, because now he’s facing possible ethics sanctions over the two incidents.
What did the outspoken justice have to say about the request for sanctions?
Before we get to Prosser’s comments, let’s discuss the good justice’s conduct. If you recall, Prosser referred to Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson as a “total bitch” in front of their judicial colleagues, and allegedly put his hands around Justice Ann Walsh Bradley’s neck in an attempt to choke her.
In a move that surprised no one, the Wisconsin Judicial Commission filed a complaint against Prosser (available here). Apparently this type of behavior is unbecoming of a justice on the state Supreme Court. Who knew? The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism (WCIJ) has the details:
The commission found probable cause to believe Prosser’s conduct violated three provisions of the Code of Judicial Conduct. The provisions are that a judge “shall be patient, dignified and courteous” in dealings with others, that he or she cooperate with other judges “to promote the satisfactory administration of justice,” and that judges must establish and maintain “high standards of conduct and shall personally observe those standards.”
The complaint was filed with the Supreme Court by special prosecutor Franklyn Gimbel of Milwaukee.
The high court can discipline Prosser with a range of punishments, including reprimand, suspension or removal from the bench. Or it may dismiss the case without taking action.
Let’s be fair to Prosser: he completely owned his name-calling, and he even went so far as to say that it was warranted. And really, he’s right. Sometimes you have to call a spade a spade (and sometimes that spade is a “total bitch”). Just think of what could have happened if Prosser had kept his emotions bottled up.
We could have had another unintentional, reflexive neck-touching incident on our hands. Sure, Prosser might not have been “patient, dignified and courteous,” but he might have been attempting to “promote the satisfactory administration of justice.”
But Prosser doesn’t need anyone to defend him, because according to Businessweek, he’s innocent, dammit: “The charges filed by the Judicial Commission are partisan, unreasonable and largely untrue. They will be vigorously contested because I am innocent.” And there’s more from the WCIJ:
“The Commission has been patently unfair in its handling of this matter. It has not been interested in discerning the truth. It has been committed to making a political statement. The Judicial Commission is trying to accomplish through this prosecution what some of its members failed to achieve at the ballot box.”
Is this just an orchestrated political move, or is Prosser really this big of a judicial diva? Only time will tell, but if the ethics complaint is dismissed without sanctions being levied, the other members of the court might want to purchase boxing headgear for the next judicial battle royale, because Prosser is pissed.
Judicial commission accuses Prosser of ethics violations, he declares innocence [Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism]
Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Accused of Ethics Violations [Businessweek]
Judicial Commission Wants Justice Disciplined for Alleged Attack [Courthouse News Service]
Ethics Sanction Requested for Wisconsin Justice over B-Word, Neck-Touching Incidents [ABA Journal]