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):
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.
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.