As mentioned yesterday, Dane County Sheriff David Mahoney is leading an investigation into allegations that Justice David Prosser put a “chokehold” on Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, and counter-allegations that Bradley initiated physical contact.

One of the witnesses was Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, who has a long history of verbal conflict with Prosser. 

Sheriff Mahoney was a campaign supporter of Abrahamson.  According to Fairly Conservative, a Wisconsin blog, Sheriff Mahoney appeared in a campaign advertisement for her (in the initial still screen shot, and at the 0:18 mark):

Another blog confirmed in 2009 that it was Sheriff Mahoney in the campaign ad, as does someone familiar with Wisconsin politics. (Yes, just before Sheriff Mahoney in the video is Judge Maryann Sumi.)

In such a highly politicized case, does it make sense for Sheriff Mahoney to be leading the investigation, considering that Abrahamson is one of the witnesses?

Even assuming (which I do) that the Sheriff and his staff will do a completely professional investigation, doesn’t the Sheriff’s political connection to Abrahamson raise an appearance of bias problem? Shouldn’t the investigator be someone with no political connection to any of the Justices? 

I e-mailed Shefiff Mahoney last night asking for comment both to confirm his appearance in the video and as to any possible conflict.  I have not heard back, but will update this post if he responds.

(This issue was brought to my attention by commenter Dad29, and by Steve Eggleston)

Update:  Sheriff Mahoney has more political conflicts.  Per JSOnline, he endorsed Prosser’s opponent, JoAnne Kloppenburg and shares the same campaign manager as Kloppenburg.

Update No. 2. Thanks to a reader in Wisconsin for forwarding me this link from The Wisconsin Reporter of a statement issued by Sheriff Mahoney that he will play no personal role in the investigation.