Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley late Saturday accused fellow Justice David Prosser of putting her in a chokehold during a dispute in her office earlier this month.
"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. . . .
A source who spoke to several justices present during the incident told the Journal Sentinel that the confrontation occurred after 5:30 p.m. June 13, the day before the high court's release of a decision upholding a bill to curtail the collective bargaining rights of public employees.
Six of the court's seven justices - Justice N. Patrick Crooks was not present - had gathered in Bradley's chambers. Some were informally discussing the decision.
The conversation grew heated, and Bradley asked Prosser to leave. Bradley was bothered by disparaging remarks Prosser had made about Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, a source said.
Bradley felt Prosser "was attacking the chief justice," the source said.
Before leaving, Prosser "put his hands around her neck in what (Bradley) described as a chokehold," the source said.
"He did not exert any pressure, but his hands were around her neck," the source said.
The source said the act "was in no way playful." . . .
Infighting has plagued the court in recent years and often spilled into the public. The court's rancor became a campaign issue for Prosser this spring, but he insisted he was not the cause of the problem. He said during debates that he was confident the internal disputes on the court would fade quickly once he was re-elected.
Prosser acknowledged in March that he called Abrahamson a "bitch" and threatened to "destroy" her during a closed-door meeting.
At the time, Prosser told the Journal Sentinel that the outburst to Abrahamson came after the chief justice 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 Bradley) are masters at deliberately goading people into perhaps incautious statements. This is bullying and abuse of very, very long standing."
In a March interview, Bradley said Prosser had flashes of extreme anger on and off over the years.
"It's been going on for years off and on," she said.
After Prosser's outburst, Bradley sent an email to him and other justices saying the behavior was unacceptable. She said this March that from the time of her email until then there had been no incidents of similar magnitude.
Prosser, and apparently another Justice who was present, claim it was an act of self-defense and not a choking. Prosser was recently re-elected in an election so close that it required a recount.