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10:15 p.m. June 25 and 9 a.m. June 26: This story was updated to reflect a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report of a statement from Justice Prosser denying the allegations, followed by a report that Justice Bradley has affirmed that a physical altercation took place and disputed the assertions of others that the contact was incidental.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser allegedly grabbed fellow Justice Ann Walsh Bradley around the neck in an argument in her chambers last week, according to at least three knowledgeable sources. But other sources have offered a conflicting account, and Prosser on Saturday declared that the claims, once investigated, will be “proven false.”

Details of the incident, first disclosed Saturday morning in a joint report by Wisconsin Public Radio and the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, remain sketchy. The sources spoke on the condition that they not be named, citing a need to preserve professional relationships.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, in an article published late Saturday, reported that the incident took place in Justice Bradley’s chambers on June 13, the day before the court issued its decision upholding a bill to curtail the collective bargaining rights of public employees.

The sources who spoke to the Center and WPR said an argument about that ruling culminated in a physical altercation in the presence of other justices. They say Bradley purportedly asked Prosser to leave her office, whereupon Prosser grabbed Bradley by the neck with both hands.

Prosser, contacted Friday afternoon by the Center, declined comment: “I have nothing to say about it.” He repeated this statement after the particulars of the story — including the allegation that there was physical contact between him and Bradley — were described. He did not confirm or deny any part of the reconstructed account.

Late Saturday, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, Prosser issued a statement: “Once there’s a proper review of the matter and the facts surrounding it are made clear, the anonymous claims made to the media will be proven false. Until then, I will refrain from further public comment.”

Bradley, contacted by WPR on Friday, declined comment, saying “I have nothing to say.”

The Journal Sentinel quoted a source who alleged that Prosser aggressively put his hands around Bradley’s neck, though did not exert pressure. It also quoted sources who disputed this, including one who said Prosser made incidental contact with Bradley’s neck as he put up his hands in a defensive posture as Bradley rushed toward him “with fists up.”

Amanda Todd, spokesperson for the court, sent an email to the full court on Friday afternoon informing them of the Center’s media inquiries on the matter. Reporters also contacted each justice individually. As of the end of day Saturday, none of the justices has publicly commented, except for Prosser in his statement.

The sources say Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs was notified of the incident. One source says Tubbs came in to meet with the entire Supreme Court about this matter. Tubbs, contacted by Wisconsin Public Radio, declined to comment. But Saturday he told WPR he would issue a statement on Monday.

Sources also say the matter was called to the attention of the Wisconsin Judicial Commission, which investigates allegations of misconduct involving judges. James Alexander, executive director of the commission, said Friday that “we can neither confirm nor deny” that the incident was under investigation. “The commission hasn’t given me any authority to make any confirmation.”

The Judicial Commission was created by the Supreme Court in 1971 to “discipline and correct judges who engage in conduct which has an adverse effect upon the judicial administration of justice and the confidence of the public and the judiciary and its process.” It investigates possible violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct, officially Chapter 60 of the Supreme Court Rules, with ultimate decisions on discipline being imposed by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Chapter 60 states that judges are required to “uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary” and “avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety” in all activities. And Chapter 62 requires judges and other court personnel to “be civil in their dealings with one another” and “abstain from any conduct that may be characterized as uncivil, abrasive, abusive, hostile or obstructive.”

Judicial Commission investigations are confidential, unless it issues a formal complaint against a judge. But the commission’s rules also state, “Should a complaint or investigation become known to the public, the Commission may issue a brief statement to confirm its pendency, clarify the procedural aspects of the proceedings, state that the judge denies the allegations,” and provide other basic information.

Prosser, 68, a former Republican legislator who served as Assembly Speaker, was appointed to the court in 1998 by Gov. Tommy Thompson. He won a high-profile April election that was often cast as a referendum of sorts on the policies of Republican Gov. Scott Walker, including his effort to strip most collective bargaining rights from public employees. Prosser, after a recount, defeated challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg by 7,000 votes out of nearly 1.5 million cast.

The decision was released late in the afternoon June 14, only eight days after the court heard oral arguments on the case. On June 13, Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, R-Horicon, had suggested that the court could rule on the matter soon, saying his party intended to introduce the changes as a budget amendment the following day if the court did not act by then.

The 4-3 decision, which held that Dane County Judge Maryann Sumi overstepped her authority in voiding the bill, was notably contentious. Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson wrote a stinging dissent chiding the majority for “hastily reaching judgment” on a ruling that was “disingenuous, based on disinformation,” “lacking a reasoned, transparent analysis” and laden with “numerous errors of law and fact.”

Abrahamson singled out Prosser for criticism, calling his concurrence “long on rhetoric and long on story-telling that appears to have a partisan slant. Like the order, the concurrence reaches unsupported conclusions.” She said the ruling “seems to open the court unnecessarily to the charge that the majority has reached a pre-determined conclusion not based on the facts and the law… .”

In March, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that, in a disagreement over a case last year, Justice Prosser had called Justice Abrahamson a “total bitch” and threatened to “destroy” her. Prosser, the paper reported, confirmed making the remarks, saying he “probably overreacted” while accusing Justices Abrahamson and Bradley of being “masters at deliberately goading people into perhaps incautious statements.”


The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported late Saturday that Justice Bradley has affirmed that a physical altercation took place and disputed the assertions of others that the contact was incidental.

“The facts are that I was demanding that he get out of my office and he put his hands around my neck in anger in a chokehold,” Bradley told the Journal Sentinel.

And in response to the conflicting interpretation offered by unnamed sources, that Prosser put up his hands defensively as she rushed toward him, Bradley told the paper: “You can try to spin those facts and try to make it sound like I ran up to him and threw my neck into his hands, but that’s only spin.”

She added: “Matters of abusive behavior in the workplace aren’t resolved by competing press releases. I’m confident the appropriate authorities will conduct a thorough investigation of this incident involving abusive behavior in the workplace.”

The nonprofit Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism ( collaborates with Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin Public Television, other news media and the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication. All works created, published, posted or disseminated by the Center do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of UW-Madison or any of its affiliates.

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117 replies on “Supreme Court spat got physical”

  1. I call on all Justices to come forward and tell the truth. If this indeed did happen the constituents of this state have the right to know about it. I don’t care how angry Prosser was or what buttons Bradley may have pushed a physical altercation between Justices is not acceptable. This is the high court of the State. A state that is in turmoil. We deserve a court that is not in turmoil. Name calling is not acceptable but can be moved on from. Physical assault is never, never, never acceptable and can not be overlooked. These people (the Justices) should have the utmost respect for the laws of this state and be required to live up to them.

  2. I do not understand why Bradley did not call the police and file a criminal complaint. That people refuse to do what it is their legal duty to do in the name of “professional relationships” is just a code phrase for “we care more about our careers than justice.” It reminds me of Anita Hill, who was willing to allow someone to not abuse her has an employee while working at the EEOC, of all places, but who clearly felt that her career is more important than all those Black women and others who wound up being indirectly abused by her boss. As a Supreme Court justice, he has gone on to do far more harm to other Black women (e.g. those who should have been plaintiffs in the Wal-Mart class action) and those similarly situated. This cannot be the first time Prosser has done something such as this. If someone had the decency to try and stop him years ago, perhaps he would not be in the position he still is and, thus, able to harm many more people.

  3. It’s not enough to strip the people of their rights, now the Repubs are also looking to get away with murder.

  4. What’s happening to Wiscsonsin Republicans? It’s like the GOP is drunk on power. Good lick in those recall elections to get rid of those extremist Republicans. Prosser should go too.

  5. Once he barely survived what would have normally have been a cakewalk of a re-election campaign, he must have felt he was invulnerable and could physically act out his verbal desires to “destroy” the “bitches” like Abrahamson and Bradley who don’t submit to his will.

  6. David Prosser needs professional help. Someone needs to step in and see to it that he gets it before he seriously harms someone. Evidently, as is the case with most mentally ill people, he lacks insight into his condition.

  7. Remember, any elected official in Wisconsin can be recalled, including judges. To be sure, we have to wait a year for Prosser, presuming he’s not in jail by then, but no reason not to start on the other Koch-funded “justices” right now.

  8. Despicable. And I don’t mean Justice Prosser–I mean this thinly-veiled attempt to smear Justice Prosser. Anyone who would engage in this kind of rumor-mongering doesn’t deserve the title of “news” or “reporter” or anything other than “rag” or “cage lining.” Sick, pathetic display of the politics of personal destruction.

  9. this sounds extremely fantastical and absurd. if there really was a problem, there would be no excuse NOT to publicly confirm what was going on. This article, and the allegations, are purely speculative at this point and sound like gossip at a sewing circle. Either do your homework and present CONCRETE FACTUAL information or don’t break slanderous stories if you don’t know they’re completely true. How about you grow up and actually do what your organization is named for- RESPONSIBLE journalism? Otherwise, quit wasting everyone’s time.

  10. WISGOP supports Qaddafi, Prosser, and Walker. All three are attack dogs who hate the people they serve. Vote Dems all the way!

  11. Zero-tolerance for attacking women? How about zero-tolerance for attacking ANYbody? This isn’t a protestor who screamed in his face or a journalist who tried becoming the story by ‘accidentally’ getting too close. This is a colleague. If this is true, here’s what’s going to happen. The filthy liberal media will barely utter a peep about this case and Prosser won’t resign until two seconds before the other justices say ‘Okay, youre out’. Then it’ll be a blurb on the evening news.

    And then there will be a head count of conservative talk show hosts implying that she actually deserved it. And it will be hilarious, because everybody knows that’s the kind of thing that is.

  12. If this is the mindset he has when making important decisions how did he ever get the job. Is this how he keeps the majority vote by bullying. He needs to go,now.

  13. History of verbal abuse and threat to a coworker. Now physical attack of a coworker. Attacking a Wisconsin Supreme Court Judge by anyone (another judge, no less!) is a felony. David Prosser needs to resign Monday.

  14. This was not reported because it did not happen. Why wouldn’t the sources identify themselves-fear of slander charges. Look at the mischaracterization in the anti-Prosser ad about the child molestation case-totally false. Have the left no shame- the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism makes Think Progress look as conservative as Michele Malkin.

    Good luck proving this-of course in Dane county the judges make up the law as they go along.

  15. Holy cow! Do the laws not apply to this guy? That’s assault and battery at least, isn’t it!?!

    I dare say any one of us that pulled the same thing would be in the county lock up IMMEDIATELY!

    Either the facts as stated are seriously wrong, or this is a blatant miscarriage of justice!

  16. This sounds like some backwoods town council not a state Supreme Court. What is wrong with this man? He must recuse himself from all issues dealing with women and assaults. Better still, he should retire and enter an anger management program. This is insane.

  17. Wisconsin politics are getting a real “hands-on” approach and name calling as well. Childish?Not really – Just down right ignorance laced with vanity! Yes! Sinful and corrupt to have a so called ‘public offical’ act in this manner!!

  18. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal is now reporting that 2 witnesses dispute Bradley’s claim of “choking” and instead say Bradley threatened Prosser with raised fists. Where’s your update WisconsinWatch? Will all these calls for dismissal in the comments still hold true for Bradley as the aggressor?

  19. Talk about Yellow Journalism! Wow

    Once this report is proven false and the circumstances are known, those involved in spreading the politically motivated garbage should be prosecuted to the greatest extent of the Law!

    Sources: Anonymous judicial staff of the left wing liberal justices, WPR members of the public sector union cabal and the WCIJ ??? … was this one of your commissioned reports?

  20. What Bothers me about this is Bradley, not having anything to say and the sources want to remain anonymous …I have a real problem with this…If she was grabbed by the throat she needs to Press charges and say so publicly..I have no doubt that “Prosser” is capable of doing such a thing after his past and recent Behavior, he clearly has issues controlling his anger and this alone should make him unable to serve in any court let alone the high court …But these so Called sources need to step up and tell all,Take a stand and not be afraid…Don’t allow this to be covered up if in fact it is true..Do the right thing and push this until the truth is revealed…

  21. @Deborah Kelly:

    “The sources say Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs was notified of the incident. One source says Tubbs came in to meet with the entire Supreme Court about this matter.”

  22. “He did not exert any pressure, but his hands were around her neck,” the source said.

    What’s the point of putting your hands around someone’s neck if you’re not going to squeeze? I can see him putting his hands on her shoulders in this manner.

  23. Justice Bradley needs to file a criminal complaint against Prosser just like Rep Wiener did against the hacker who broke into his twitter account.

  24. No 68 yr old man, especially a Judge, has any right to put his hands around the neck of another human being. I am sure he will lie through his teeth, I expect no less from Prosser. He needs to be removed from office immediately!

  25. Seems Bradley rushed at Prosser with fists raised and Prosser fended her off. Prosser had no reason to be angry, but Bradley did. Bradley has made a public accusation against Prosser, but has not filed any sort of official report. There were multiple people in the room. If Prosser really did “choke” her, there would be plenty of witnesses.

    Bradley appears to be an opportunistic liar.

  26. This will certainly be interesting. I note that a significant number here want Justice Prosser thrown out of office for the putative assault. Well and good — if he did attempt to throttle Justice Bradley, he should definitely be dismissed from office.

    Of course, what is good for the gander is certainly good for the goose. If it is shown that Justice Bradley assaulted Justice Prosser, then the same rules apply — she should definitely be dismissed from office.

    The truth will come out; a person who resorts to physical violence to end a verbal confrontation is not a person who is fit for office.

  27. What motive would Prosser have.
    He had just won election.
    He was on the majority side on the Walker issue.
    Bradley was on the losing side.
    Frustrated and Angry.
    Why didn’t Bradley call the police immediately?
    Because she knew she was wrong and had attacked Prosser with upraised fists.
    Motive goes to Bradley.
    She should be recalled.

  28. Let’s not make a rush to judgement. If there were witnesses, let’s see what they say. – Yours Truly, Fluffy

  29. The story o this is muddled….There are others present who claim that Bradley rushed at Prosser and he put his hands up automatically to protect himself.

    I think we need to withhold judgement on this until we get the correct story (if we ever do) before we use this as another cudgel for idealogical points on either side.

  30. Thugs on the Bench. Shall we call this “Judicial Thuggery”. Not sure how this story came about but one should expect this type of truth or fallacy to be distant from the judges bench. Seems like we are all just like those guys from the other side of the tracks.

  31. There is something fishy about this.
    Something tells me this is the old a push becomes a shove hide the radical pose for the radical ends means.
    If they can’t win legally they will subvert the law any way they can. These people are dangerous.

  32. Who is typically more upset in this debate? dems. She came at him like a fool, got handled unhurt, and now there’s allegations. It won’t add up to a damn thing.

  33. Those of you who were screaming for Prosser to be removed yesterday, are you screaming for Bradley to be removed today? Hmmmm?

  34. Why no update regarding the two other sources who say Justice Bradley rushed Justice Prosser with fists raised, and Prosser put his hands up to defend himself?

  35. Bradley is a liberal, hence any lie is justified in the name of the greater good. With multiple witness I suspect this will blow up in her face. The story is utterly unlikely on it’s face.

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  37. totally hilarious! The fact that this conveniently happened at this time as to drum up more so called outrage. And the fact people on here are silly enough to buy it. If you haven’t done enough research by now to know that the dems will do ANYTHING to try to get an advantage, well then your a lost cause and should move to Cali where you belong… with all the other nut jobs that are trying to destroy the country.

  38. I don’t believe this at all. This is a smear campaign. The unions and Dems really needed this Judicial seat and LOST. They sued and LOST. Everything is riding on this. Their power is slipping away. They are launching recall petitions and now this. This is a last ditch effort to regain their power base…a last gasp.

    Please note, she lunged at him with her fists and he put his hands up defensively. This was a set-up.

    The Democrats have corrupted our election system with dead voters, phony voters, illegal voters. felons who are not supposed to be voting, people registered multiple times, magic boxes of undiscovered ballots…thank you ACORN. Some counties had more votes cast than they had residents of the county.

  39. I’m guessing that Bradley did not file a complaint because she was partly responsible. If this is the case and Prosser is removed she should be removed as well.

  40. Sounds like Justice Prosser has a difficult time with women in power and a difficult time accepting responsibility for his own behavior. According to Justice Prosser, Justice Abrahamson “goaded” him into calling her a “total bitch.” Now it seems Justice Prosser is saying that Justice Bradley is responsible for his putting his hands around her neck. Does anyone else see a pattern here?

  41. Way to update (rewrite) your article without pointing out why. Since you are aware of the MJS article, you are also aware they have 3 sources to your two hacks. Investigative journalism? More like investigative journOlista.

  42. THIS IS BS>>>> What a fabricated story! Liberals are SUCH bad losers and they get very HATEFUL when they don’t get what they want. I heard Prosser will be proven INNOCENT since there was video to review of HER coming at him with her fists up! Nice umm… lady? HAHAHA These Democrats don’t care. They got the story out there and that was the plan! LIBERAL STRATEGY: THROW MUD AND HOPE IT STICKS! (or if that doesn’t work, intimidate until you a story)

  43. Where are the statements from other judges that were present. There are reports that Bradley was the aggressor and attacked Prosser who threw up his hands to defend himself. If this proves to be the actual truth will there be calls for Bradley to resign or face impeachment?

  44. Prosser’s assault on the female judge is not surprising, given the Republican Party’s assault on women who use Planned Parenthood. What a political party: tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, tax increases and service cuts for everyone else.

  45. Two points:
    First, who closed the distance between Bradley and Prosser? Whoever did so was the aggressor.
    Second, was the spat, as it has been reported, about delaying the decision? If so, why delay? Justice delayed is justice denied, even for legislatures. Might threat of this delay be an impeachable offense, since Justices take an oath to uphold the national and state constitutions and justice?

  46. Sounds the the Unions, Liberal Media, and the DEMS are drumming up cocka mammie story to try to throw the Republicans under the bus! Just like with Planned Parenthood, h
    Health Care, Medicaid….the list goes on and on! You people don’t understand your freedoms and way of lives are being taken away. Using our very own constitution to under mind and handcuff us! By the time you realize, it will be to late!

  47. Bill – Did you contact Prosser for his side of the story before you ran your first article on this subject?

  48. Love the rush to hang Prosser before all the facts are out. Biased are we?

    If Justice Prosser did indeed assault a fellow judge, with no justifiable reason, then he should be removed from office. I voted for him, but I’d be the first to want him impeached if this is true.

    If Justice Bradley rushed him, and it turns out Prosser was defending himself, she should face impeachment. It has no place regardless of party affiliation (as non-partisan the high court is supposed to be!)

    Let the police investigation pan out & then call for ____________ to be accountable for their actions.

  49. Damn those liberal women with their linebacker necks! How dare they throw their necks into unsuspecting conservative male hands!

    All liberal women’s necks should be locked up and forgotten about!

  50. Yea democrats are evil, not the people that wiped out 50 years of labor rights in the US. Welcome to life in Mexico FOOLS

    1. Hay Just more smoke and mirriors by a judge payed of by the union so the dems can get back in power so they can rule your life aand tell you what to do.

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  52. “…On Monday night, Bradley called Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs to talk to him about the incident. On the morning of Wednesday, June 15, Tubbs joined the justices in a closed-door meeting, where he discussed “issues relating to workplace violence.”

    During the meeting, Chief Justice Abrahamson actually reenacted the incident on Chief Tubbs — no doubt an amusing sight, as the diminutive Abrahamson mimicked choking the tall, portly police chief. During her demonstration, Abrahamson emphasized that Prosser had exerted “pressure” on Bradley’s throat….”

    National Review

    With a majority of the SC witnessing Abrahamson’s reenactment of what she said
    took place between Bradley and Prosser, not one of these witnesses objected, criticized or corrected the reenactment by Chief Justice Abrahamson with the exception of Justice Roggensack who insisted ‘there was no pressure.’ She didn’t
    expand on this insight nor how she knew, according to the article. But neither did she deny that the Prosser-Bradley confrontation took place essentially as reenacted by Abrahamson.

    After participating in the role played reconstruction of what was in essence a charge of criminal assault leveled against Prosser by Abrahamson, Tubbs felt confident enough in the merits of the complaint/charge to pass the investigation and fact finding up the line to the Dane County Sheriff.

    This is a story against interest. National Review, unwittingly it would appear, advances Bradley’s case against Prosser and undercuts its own
    support of Prosser’s subsequently less tenable position in the matter.

    The National Review stands behind Schneider’s story.

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