Wisconsin Supreme Court – Unhinged

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, March 19, 2011:

[Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice] Prosser acknowledged the incident recently and said he thought it was becoming public now in an attempt to hurt him politically. Prosser faces Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg in the April 5 election.He said the outburst came after [Chief Justice Shirley] Abrahamson took steps to undermine him politically and to embarrass him and other court conservatives.

“In the context of this, I said, ‘You are a total bitch,’ ” Prosser said.

“I probably overreacted, but I think it was entirely warranted. . . . They (Abrahamson and Justice Ann Walsh Bradley) are masters at deliberately goading people into perhaps incautious statements. This is bullying and abuse of very, very long standing.”

The Feb. 10, 2010, incident occurred as the court privately discussed a request to remove Justice Michael Gableman from a criminal case.

“In a fit of temper, you were screaming at the chief; calling her a ‘bitch,’ threatening her with ‘. . . I will destroy you’; and describing the means of destruction as a war against her ‘and it won’t be a ground war,’ ” Bradley wrote in a Feb. 18, 2010, e-mail to Prosser and others.

Does any of this – the language or the strategic release of the language – represent a functioning court? Is this the best that the Bar of Wisconsin has to offer to its highest bench?

I cannot conceive of such a thing happening in Maryland on our Court of Appeals or any other court in Maryland. It is shameful.

2 thoughts on “Wisconsin Supreme Court – Unhinged

  1. Bruce:

    I had the opportunity to meet Chief Justice Abrahamson a few years years ago. She is absolutely lovely. She is gentle and kind. At dinner with her, I kept thinking she was the sweetest Jewish grandmother in the world–if your grandmother could also be a world class jurist. She has also written a ton of law review articles on state constitutional law (my interest) that are pioneering, academic, but also intensely practical.

    I completely agree that it is shameful for members of a court to call each other names, but it is almost comical that he would call Chief Justice Abrahamson a name.

    Dan Friedman

  2. Dan, thank you. I lacked the immense benefits of a Jewish grandmother – such misfortunes happen when you are Scottish/German/Irish, etc. – but point very well taken. I am pleased to hear of her scholarship in this area.

    My suspicion, though I might be wrong, is that this story reflects only upon the person who utters the epithet, which is so often the case in human affairs.

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