On Friday, the Wisconsin Judicial Commission filed a formal ethics complaint against Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser for his role in a June altercation with Justice Ann Walsh Bradley. This is a surprising development, at least for those of us outside Wisconsin. Official inquiries were launched, and it appeared the controversy was over when no charges were filed. Not so fast. The wheels of the Wisconsin Judicial Commission turn more slowly than that. The Journal-Sentinel reports:
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 is not about whether Justice Prosser is a good or bad guy,” said Franklyn Gimbel, a prominent Milwaukee lawyer who was hired as special prosecutor by the Judicial Commission. “This is not about whether Justice Prosser is a good or bad judge. This is not about his judicial philosophies. It is about whether or not his behavior on June 13, 2011, was violative of the ethical requirements for a judge.”
Prosser issued a statement Friday criticizing the commission’s complaint, suggesting it is politically motivated. He said the commission is “trying to accomplish through this prosecution what some of its members failed to achieve at the ballot box.”