Neither Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser nor fellow Justice Ann Walsh Bradley will face criminal charges for an altercation that broke out as the judges were considering Gov. Scott Walker’s union bargaining law, a special prosecutor has determined, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The incident still could have far-reaching effects – possibly even opening the doors of the court to the public as justices debate how to decide cases.
Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson will propose “the presumption will be that court conferences are open to the public” as a way to lead the fractious court back toward civility. Special Prosecutor Patricia Barrett offered no commentary on the merits of the accusations against the two judges or on whether their conduct was fitting for justices in the state’s highest court. “It’s not my job to determine what’s becoming,” Barrett said. Bradley has said Prosser put her in a “chokehold” during an argument over a case in her chambers. Others have said Bradley came at Prosser with fists raised and he put up his hands to block her or push her back. The incident occurred June 13, a day before the divided court issued a 4-3 ruling upholding Walker’s legislation curtailing collective bargaining for public employees.