Last year, conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser allegedly grabbed fellow Justice Ann Walsh Bradley around the neck during an argument in her chambers. Although a state prosecutor eventually decided not to file criminal charges against Prosser, the state’s judicial conduct body filed a formal complaint against Prosser on Friday:
The commission asked the high court to send the case to a panel of three appeals court judges to consider whether Prosser violated three ethics rules. The panel’s findings would then be sent to the high court, the only body that could make a binding ruling against Prosser.
The confrontation between Prosser and Bradley occurred in front of all but one of the other justices, who will have to decide whether to weigh in on the case or step aside. Stepping aside would effectively end the case.
This marks the fourth time in only a few years that a member of the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s conservative bloc faced a serious ethics complaint. Justice Annette Ziegler’s fellow justices reprimanded her in 2008 for ruling on cases as a lower court judge regarding a bank where her husband was a director. An ethics case against Justice Michael Gabelman for running a false ad against his predecessor was dropped only after the remaining justices split 3-3 along party lines — and Gabelman now faces a second complaint for refusing to recuse himself from cases argued by a firm that reportedly provided him with tens of thousands of dollars in free legal services.