Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne has decided to request a special prosecutor after reviewing evidence about an altercation in the Wisconsin Supreme Court chambers in June. The incident was investigated by the Dane County Sheriff's office and their findings were turned over to Ozanne a few days ago without any recommendations from the Sheriff's investigators.
Here is what Ozanne said today:
I will be requesting Dane County's chief judge (William Foust) to appoint a special prosecutor to review and make any determinations necessary in this matter due to this office's prominent role in the litigation connected to this incident," said a statement Ozanne issued. "Process matters. How we do our jobs is just as important as what we do in our jobs. The people of this state deserve to feel confident in the rule of law and the exercise of discretion by their constitutional officers. I take this action not because I feel this office wouldn't be fair, but so that any decision can be free from accusations to ensure the public's trust in the system and to allow the incident to be reviewed on the merits with no appearance of political motivation for any decisions or outcome.
Justice Ann Walsh Bradley has accused Justice David Prosser of choking her after they heatedly argued about Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's recently enacted and controversial union-busting law. The argument took place in Justice Bradley's office. The choking is alleged to have happened after Bradley approached Prosser and requested that he leave her office.
Ozanne had previously filed a lawsuit claiming that the union-busting law was passed in violation of Wisconsin's open meeting laws and should be overturned. The justices were arguing over that lawsuit when the alleged attack by Prosser occurred, which is why Ozanne is removing himself from the decision of whether to prosecute anyone involved in the incident. The court upheld the union-busting law by a 4-3 vote, with Prosser voting in the majority and Bradley voting in the minority.
Prosser recently won re-election to a 10 year term on the court by narrowly defeating challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg. He had advertised during the campaign that he would be a "conservative complement" to Republican Governor Scott Walker and the Republican-led Wisconsin legislature.
UPDATE...just realized that today, August 1st, is the official start date of Prosser's new 10-year-term on the court. Coincidence?