On Big and Evolving Wisconsin News Day Friday (March 16) I diaried about several stories, including the ethics and misconduct in office charges filed against Wisconsin State Supreme Court Justice David Prosser about past conduct, including an incident where he had his hands around the neck of fellow Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley during an argument on a case.
These charges are a big deal and Prosser has retained 2 Waukesha attorneys to go to bat for him (isn't one attorney enough? Scott Walker has retained 2 for the John Doe Probe) regarding these charges. But Prosser is also fighting back himself.
He claims he is a victim of partisan prosecution and then goes further in demanding that all Wisconsin State Supreme Court Justices recuse themselves from hearing the ethics case against him (effectively killing the case because no one could hear it).
Of course, his initial attack is against the judicial body filing the charges, but he's not stopping there. He's also demanding his fellow Supreme Court justices recuse themselves from hearing the case against him:
Embattled Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser said Monday he will likely ask other members of the court to recuse themselves from deciding on the disciplinary complaint filed against him last week — an action that, if successful, would appear to kill the case.
Prosser also said in an interview Monday that he favors authorizing the Wisconsin Judicial Commission to release records of its deliberations in the matter to allow him and others to determine whether the commission was — as he charged Friday — politically biased against him.
"As far as I'm concerned, I don't think I have anything to hide here," Prosser said. "I don't know who made the complaints. I don't know what their (commission members') votes were. I don't know if it was a unanimous vote or not a unanimous vote."
Prosser also charged that the Judicial Commission's makeup is inherently biased because five of the nine members are appointed by the sitting governor, who is a partisan.Nice try, Prosser. Try to get people to forget what you actually did while crying crocodile tears that you're a victim of a political prosecution. No sale here.
In his case, at least some of those who participated in discussion about the ethics charges against Prosser, a former Republican speaker of the Assembly, were appointees of former Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle.
Prosser, who in the past said that recusals should be rare and solely the responsibility of the Justice themself, has now changed his tune to demanding recusals of his fellow justices. Recusals have been an issue lately because of revelations that Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Gabelmann received free legal services from a law firm during his own ethics violation charges and that all subsequent cases this law firm brought to the high court received supportive votes from Gablemann. There have been demands that Gablemann should have revealed the presence of this conflict of interest and recuse himself from those cases, however he has continued to refuse to do so.
Prosser contended that none of the other justices, including Crooks, should sit on the case. He said Crooks could be influenced by his discussions with Bradley, Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson and detectives from the Dane County Sheriff's Office who investigated the altercation.Since all the Justices except Crooks were witnesses to the choking event, Prosser believes they should not hear his case when it arrives at the Wisconsin Supreme Court. However, without justices to hear the case, it could not be heard. Therefore, the case against him would simply die.
The money quote from Prossers interview is probably this:
"The truth of the matter was, they were not interested in what my defense was or any provocation for my action," Prosser said. "They were only interested in my conduct."Yes, it's your conduct that's the problem here. Continuing to claim that Justice Bradley inserted her neck between your hands or that she had it coming because she provolked you isn't the issue. What you've done is the issue.
Update: And MORE Edition: Yowsa! 2 state public employee unions have filed unfair labor practices charges against the Walker administration.
The two unions are the State Professional Education and Information Council #1 and the Wisconsin State Attorneys Association.Walkers union stripping law allows only for negotiations of wages (not working conditions, benefits, safety concerns, etc.) within limits that the state sets, but the Walker administration won't even negotiate those.
In a statement, the education union said the state had not negotiated with the group, or provided dates for bargaining, since Walker took office in January 2011.
"After a year of repeated requests to simply come up with dates for negotiations, which resulted in a series of rebukes and dismissals by the Office of State Employment Relations, we have been put in the position of filing complaints to bring Gov. Walker and his representatives to the table with state employees, as they are required to do by law," said a statement from the education union.
John Gelhard, a spokesman for the Wisconsin State Attorneys Association, said the Walker administration had violated the provisions of Act 10 by "failing to bargain with any of the unions that recertified in November. Despite his upbeat commercials where he suggests a willingness to work with state employees, Scott Walker wants to dictate the terms of compensation rather than negotiate them."Unfortunately, public employees are not covered by the National Labor Relations Act and resolution of these issues are via a state agency which, of course, is headed by a Scott Walker appointee.
4 other unions are expected to file unfair labor practices complaints in the near future for failure to negotiate.