Conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser currently faces ethics charges for allegedly grabbing fellow Justice Ann Walsh Bradley by the neck during an argument in Bradley’s chambers. In response to these allegations, Prosser tried to convince a majority of his colleagues to recuse themselves from his case — a move that would effectively kill the complaint against him because it would deprive the state supreme court of the quorum it needs to hold Prosser accountable if it determines that the allegations against him have merit.
All three of Prosser’s fellow conservatives have now signed onto this plan:
Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman becomes the third member of the state’s high court to recuse himself from hearing the complaint against fellow Justice David Prosser.
Gableman made the expected announcement yesterday. Justices Annette Ziegler and Pat Roggensack had already said they wouldn’t take part in consideration of the complaint by the Wisconsin Judicial Commission.
Prosser argued that his fellow justices could not sit on his case because most of them witnessed the alleged choking incident. Yet, while it is usually true that a judge should not sit on a case where they are also a witness, that normal rule should not have applied here. Courts normally apply a “rule of necessity” to these sorts of cases which establishes that “a judge is not disqualified to [hear] a case because of a personal interest in the matter at issue if ‘the case cannot be heard otherwise.’”
Gableman, who provided the final vote immunizing Prosser, benefited in the past from a similar vote by his conservative colleagues. An ethics case against Gabelman for running a false ad against his predecessor was dropped his fellow conservatives voted to effectively kill it.