Here are excerpts from the respective interviews of the Wisconsin Supreme Court Justices present on June 13, 2011, during an incident between Justice Ann Walsh Bradley and Justice David Prosser. All emphasis is mine. The full reports are available at the links.
An analysis of this indicent is contained in the companion post.
Justice Bradley said at this point Justice Prosser began directing his loud voice at the Chief Justice Abrahamson. Justice Prosser said something to the effect of, “Chief, I have lost confidence in your leadership.
Justice Bradley said she began to walk over towards where Justice Prosser was standing, which was just outside of her office doorway. As she got closer to him Justice Bradley told Justice Prosser “Buddy don’t raise your voice again. I’m no longer willing to put up with this.”
Justice Bradley described how she was now standing close to Justice Prosser and was “face to face to confront him.” Justice Bradley stated she was pointing with her left hand towards the door that was behind him and said, “You get out of my office. ”
Justice Bradley stated her intention was to get close to him to make sure he knew that she meant it. Justice Bradley said she wanted to look him in the eyes and recalled that she did not point at his face, but was pointing over his right shoulder towards the door that was behind him.
Justice Bradley said it was at this point Justice Prosser grabbed her by the neck in what she described as a “choke hold. ” Justice Bradley did not recall Justice Prosser squeezing or applying pressure around her neck. Justice Bradley could not describe how many seconds Justice Prosser’s hands were around her neck, but she did recall being able to yell something to the eftect of “Get your hands off my neck .”
Justice Bradley stated Justice Roggensack pulled her back and away from Justice Prosser. Justice Bradley recalled moving towards her doorway and being pulled back towards her office door. Justice Bradley did not know if anyone had pulled Justice Prosser off of her, but did recall that Justice Gableman and Justice Prosser left her assistant’s office immediately.
Justice Bradley recalled right after or as she was pulled away by Justice Roggensack, Justice Roggensack said, “Anne, this isn’t like you, you charged at him.” Justice Bradley stated she responded by saying, “I didn’t touch him at all.”
[Second Interview with Justice Bradley]
We then discussed again how she had approached Justice Prosser on June 13. Justice Bradley said as she was walking towards Justice Prosser, her left hand was up with her index finger pointing towards the outer door of her chambers and he other three fingers were curled up….
Justice Bradley said as she was approaching Justice Prosser on June 13, “I was in control, I knew exactly what I was doing.” Justice Bradley said when she approached Justice Prosser, she said this to him, “Buddy, get out of my office.” Justice Bradley said she remembers specifically saying the word “buddy” to him as she was telling him to leave her office. Justice Bradley recalled this because as she was talking to her daughter about this incident after the fact, her daughter had mentioned how the only other time she heard her use the term “buddy” was three years ago when her daughter and her were in Bangkok, Thailand, in a taxicab. Justice Bradley said the taxicab driver was not taking them where they needed to go so she felt she needed to take control and she remembers saying, “Buddy, you take us back where you picked us up.” Justice Bradley said that was the only other time she could remember using the term “buddy.” Justice Bradley said, “Buddy puts me in control and them in the diminutive.” Justice Bradley again said she knew exactly what she was doing and saying to Justice Prosser on the evening of June 13, and added, “I intended to do it just the way I did it.” Justice Bradley repeated several different times during our conversation with her that she was in control on June 13, 2011 and she knew exactly what she was doing the whole time.
[Final call with Justice Bradley]
On this same date, at approximately 10:25 a.m. I received a phone call from Justice Bradley. She said she thought about whether or not she had her glasses in her hand and concluded, “I just don’t know if I had my glasses in my hand. I just don’t recall.” She also said she could not tell me exactly where her right hand was during this incident, and added, “I just know what it wasn’t doing, it wasn’t in his face.”
Justice Roggensack said the Chief Justice and Justice Prosser were arguing about whether or not a press release was going to be issued, and it was during this argument that Justice Bradley “charged at him (Justice Prosser) with her fist in the air”. Justice Roggensack said when Justice Bradley approached Justice Prosser, Justice Prosser raised his hands and put his hands up near Justice Bradley’s neck, but his hands were “never in a choke hold.” Justice Roggensack said she recalled Justice Bradley saying something to the effect of “don’t put your hands on me.” Justice Roggensack again stated Justice Bradley had a fist up at this time. Justice Roggensack then said she wanted to make it clear that at no point did Justice Prosser have Justice Bradley in a chokehold, and Justice Prosser never applied pressure with his hands on Justice Bradley. Justice Roggensack said as soon as Justice Prosser’s hands were placed on Justice Bradley, she got in between the two of them and she immediately told Justice Bradley that this was not like her.
Justice Roggensack said Justice Bradley had always been a sort of protector for the Chief Justice because they go back a long way and they are friends. Justice Roggensack said if she had not got in between the two of them, she believes Justice Bradley would have “smacked him in the face with her fist .” Justice Roggensack said everything happened really fast during this incident. Justice Roggensack said Justice Prosser should have walked away from the incident and Justice Bradley should not have come at him t he way she did. Justice Roggensack said in her opinion, “they were both out of line and they were both very angry.”
Justice Roggensack again said Justice Bradley was trying to get at him with her fists.” Justice Roggensack said she did not recall what was said between Justices Bradley and Prosser as Justice Bradley was approaching him during the incident.
* * *
Justice Roggensack said on Wednesday, June 15, 2011, all of the justices met with Margaret Brady and Chief Tubbs. Justice Roggensack said during the meeting Justice Bradley stated that she wanted a safe work environment for everyone and Justices Roggensack and Crooks had stated their agreement with that. Justice Roggensack said Justice Bradley mentioned how Justice Prosser had her in a chokehold, and Justice Roggensack responded by saying he did not have her in a chokehold at any point. Justice Bradley responded to her by saying “that’s because you stopped him.” Justice Roggensack told Justice Bradley that she did not stop him from anything, and added, “I stopped you from hitting him.”
Justice Roggensack said Justice Bradley did not react or respond to her making this statement. Justice Roggensack said the meeting was left with the idea that tney would work on the hostility amongst them.
Justice Gableman said after the chief justice told them that she might not be ready with her decision until the end of the month, Justice Prosse then, while hunched forward and hands together as if he was praying, said in a “meek and intently sincere” voice, “Chief I have lost total confidence in your leadership.” Justice Gableman said he was not shouting, there was no volume to his voice, there was no swearing, it was not said in a hostile way, and added that
it was “a fairly unremarkable comment”.
Justice Gableman said it was this comment that he believes prompted Justice Bradley to rush over to Justice Prosser. Justice Gableman said he had not seen Justice Bradley in her office from where he was standing, until she was “rushing towards Justice Prosser” out of her office. Justice Gableman said Justice Bradley got within approximately one foot of Justice Prosser and had what he believed was her right fist in his face. Justice Gableman said he recalled Justice Bradley’s blue glasses in her right fist at this time because he remembered thinking that her glasses were about to break. Justice Gableman said Justice Bradley’s fist was going towards and away from Justice Prosser’s face in almost a punching motion. Justice Gableman said he wanted to make clear that Justice Bradley’s fist was not going up and down, but rather in and out towards and away from Justice Prosser during this incident. Justice Gableman said Justice Bradley’s fist was in Justice Prosser’s face and came within about an inch every time she would extend her fist while speaking to Justice Prosser. Justice Gableman said Justice Bradley was telling Justice Prosser, “You have no right to talk to the chief justice that way. ” Justice Gableman said Justice Prosser had “a look of shock and surprise” and described him as “looking up” at Justice Bradley. Justice Gableman believes Justice Bradley is a little bit taller than Justice Prosser . [WAJ note: Apparently Prosser is taller than Bradley] Justice Gableman then used the analogy of a photograph r egarding President Johnson where he is talking to and leaning over a senator. Justice Gableman said President Johnson was a tall roan and was hovering over the senator. Justice Gableman said it was a famous photograph, and used the description of this photograph to describe how he believed Justice Bradley was leaning over Justice Prosser.
Justice Gableman said he recalled Justice Roggensack saying, “Ann this isn’t the person you are. This isn’t you.” Justice Gableman believed Justice Roggensack was pulling on Justice Bradley’s left arm at this time. Justice Gableman said Justice Prosser raised his hands and “pushed” Justice Bradley in “a defensive move”. Justice Gableman said he believed Justice Prosser’s hands were on the area where the shoulders meet the neck on Justice Bradley at this time. Justice Gableman said it was not a violent push, and after a brief pause he recalled Justict Bradley saying, “you choked me, you choked me.” Justice Gableman said he immediately responded to Justice Bradley by saying “he didn’t choke you, he pushed you to get your fist out of his face.”
* * *
Justice Gableman again was describing Justice Bradley’s fist as moving toward and away from Justice Prosser’ s face, and she was “maintaining control within an inch from his face. ” Justice Gableman believed Justice Bradley’s fist was in the region of his nose, but more towards his (Justice Prosser’s ) left cheek .
* * *
Justice Gableman again said Justice Bradley’ s fist was going toward and away from Justice Prosser’s face versus an up and down chopping manner. Justice Gableman said he believes Justice Bradley had put her fist in his face approximately three times. Restated he could not recall exactly how many times, but said it was at least three, maybe four times. Justice Gableman did not believe J ustice Prosser said anything while Justice Bradley was in his face .
We a sked Justice Gableman t o describe Justice Prosser’s hands as they made physical contact with Justice Bradley. Justice Gableman said his hands were “on an area of the shoulders whereyou would push someone if you were trying to get that person away f rom you.” Justice Gableman believed Justice Prosser’s palms were open at this time and were never over her shoulder or around her neck at any point . Justice Gableman believed his fingers were pointing up at the time.
Justice Gableman did not believe Justice Prosser made contact with Justice Bradley’s neck at any point, and again said he believed that Justice Prosser was trying to get Justice Bradley away from him. Justice Gableman said it seemed like a “vast predominance of hands on her shoulders . ” Justice Gableman also said “it did not appear that he choked her.” Justice Gableman said nothing was obstructing his view during this time and nobody had stepped in front of him to prevent him from seeing this incident completely. We asked Justice Gableman if Justice Roggensack had stepped in his view at any point and he said she did not. He said she was standing behind Justice Bradley at this time and pulling back on her left arm, but she had never obstructed his view of this incident.
Justice Gableman s aid there was a brief pause, Justice Bradley then said, “you choked me, you choked me”. Justice Gableman responded to Justice Bradley telling her he did not choke her but rather pushed hee away because her fist was in his face.
Justice Ziegler said she was still engaged in the conversation with the Chief Justice when she heard Justice Prosser say something to the effect of “I’ve lost confidence in your leadership.” Justice
Ziegler described Justice Prosser’s voice as being a firm tone, but did not believe that he was screaming or yelling at this point. Justice Ziegler said the voice was not quiet and he was standing still when he made the statement. Justice Ziegler stated this statement prompted Justice Bradley to stand up from her desk and “walk quickly” towards Justice Prosser. Justice Ziegler said Justice Bradley walked past her and walked in front of Justice Prosser and “got in David’s face.”
* * *
Justice Ziegler said she did not see what had happened between Justice Bradley and Justice Prosser, but heard Justice Roggensack say “Ann stop it, this is not like you.” Justice Ziegler said after she heard this comment, she did turn her head back to the r ight because this statement by Justice Roggensack drew her attention behind her. Justice Ziegler said when she turned her head, she saw Justice Prosser ‘s hands up by Justice Bradley’s neck area. Justice Ziegler could not see the f ront of Justice Bradley and could not see if Justice Prosser’s hands were in fact touching Just ice Bradley’s neck area at all.
* * *
Justice Ziegler said she stayed in the office with the Chief Justice and Justice Bradley after the others had left. Justice Ziegler said she continued asking the Chief about the timeline for the opinion being ccmpleted. Justice Ziegler said after Justice Prosser left , the first thing Justice Bradley did was sit down
at her desk and start typing. Justice Ziegler thought that it was odd that Justice Bradley did not have a reaction if someone had just “choked her.” Justice Ziegler thought that the Chief Justice would have asked Justice Bradley if she was okay or there would have been some sort of conversation about what had just happened. Justice Ziegler said “the whole thing was just bizarre.”
Justice Ziegler made t he comment “I know he didn’t choke her . ” We asked asked Justice Ziegler
how she knew that Justice Prosser did not choke Justice Bradley. Justice Ziegler said it seemed as though if he did ”choke” Justice Bradley that there would have been a different conversation after the incident . Justice Ziegler thought it was odd that Justice Bradley and the Chief Justice didn’t talk about
it. Justice Ziegler also said Justice Bradley did not look at her neck to see if she was okay so it would seem as though she wasn’ t “choked”. Justice Ziegler again repeated that “the whol e thing was just bizarre . “
The Chief Justice said Justice Prosser made a statement about “me not being a good leader and that he’s lost confidence in me.” The Chief Justice stated this comment prompted Justice Bradley to get up from her chair and walk towards Justice Prosser, who was still standing in the assistant’s office. The Chief Justice did not recall seeing Justice Bradley’s hands raised as she walked by her. Chief Justice stated if there was some sort of gesture, it was non- threatening and it wasn’t one that stood out to her. She recalled Justice Bradley might have been motioning towards the door, telling Justice Prosser he needed to “get out of the office.” The Chief didn’t know if Justice Bradley was pointing
at the door or motioning toward the door with her hand. The Chief Justice stated she did not see Justice Bradley’s fist being raised at any time.
* * *
The Chief Justice said when Justice Bradley approached Justice Prosser, she observed Justice Prosser put both his hands up and put them on the neck area of Justice Bradley. From the Chief’ Justice’s vantage point, it did not appear as though Justice Prosser exerted any pressure. She stated “I got the impression there wasn’t any pressure because I didn’t see her eyes bulge or hear her gasp for a breath “. T’he Chiet Justice also said “I did not see her turn color.”
Justice Prosser said he told the Chief Justice “with a lot of control” that, “Chief Justice, I have lost confidence in your ability to lead this court.” Justice Prosser mentioned several times that he was saying this in a controlled voice. Justice Prosser said “there was a little elevated voice when they were accusing me of deceiving them by not letting them know I was writing a concurrence.” Justice Prosser said the Chief Justice rarely raises her voice, but she told him that she was absolutely not going to release any notice. Justice Prosser said he was looking at the Chief Justice as he was saying he lost confidence in her leadership. Justice Prosser said immediately after he made this comment to the Chief Justice that Justice Bradley “charged me.” Justice Prosser also described it as, “she exploded out of that room. ” Justice Prosser said prior to charging him, he said he believes that she was approximately two feet from the threshold of the doorway, inside of her office. Justice Prosser said she had gone approximately five feet total to get from where she was to him. Justice Prosser said he did not believe he moved an inch, he knew he never moved towards her, but he does not recall if he moved back at all. Justice Prosser said he could not initially exit because of the credenza behind him .
Justice Prosser said as he was telling the Chief Justice that he has lost confidence
in her leadership his f orearms were parallel to the ground with his hands and fingers extended out. Justice Prosser said he talks with his hands generally. Justice Prosser said again that Justice Bradley had “charged at me, it’s simple as that” and she came out of her office towards him. Justice Prosser said he has heard some stories that she walked towards him and he said, “No, she charged at me “. When
she got near him, he said her right fist was in his face. Justice Prosser said as he was approached by Justice Bradley he believes that his hands came up slightly as he leaned backward, “it ‘s as simple as that” . Justice Prosser then said, “Did my hands touch her neck, yes, I admit that. Did I try to touch her neck, no, absolutely not , it was a total reflex”.
We then began to describe the location of Justice Bradley and her hands as she approached Justice Prosser. Justice Prosser estimated Justice Bradley’s right fist was less than six inches from the left side of his face, and it was agreed upon based on hi s description, that her right fist was at approximately a 45-degree angle from the front of his face. Justice Prosser said she did not have an open palm, it was definitely a fist. Justice Prosser did not recall anything to his right and said he did not remember where her left hand was. Justice Prosser said he had no recollection as to where her left hand was at this time. Justice Prosser said Justice Bradley’s face was approximately one foot from his f ace. He added that he saw her expression, which was “pure fury on her face.”
Statement read by Justice Bradley at meeting two days after incident:
I have brought this to the attention to all of you as my colleagues to see if we can deal with this internally.
In some ways this is simple. It is about workplace safety.
I have the right to go to my workplace without fear of verbal abuse or physical abuse.
Dave, at times you are a wonderful person. But there is another side. I have seen Dave engage in verbal abuse, threats
and two days ago in anger he put his hands around my neck in a choke hold.
I have the right as a state employee to enter my workplace without any fear of verbal or physical abuse
That is what the law says.
If I cannot get any assurances from you, the court, that this problem is going to be addressed) then I will go to the
outside and take other means.
Mark was at our condo on Monday night when I finally returned after 8. I told him what had happened.
He wants me to go into court and get a restraining order against Dave.
Monday night he said to me, if one of our daughters called and said a co-worker had just in anger put his hands around her neck in a choke hold) that I would be on her to do everything possible that it did not happen again … And he is right.
He said, I cannot care for myself any less in response than I would care for my daughters.
I told him that I want to try to address it internally first.
He thinks this meeting this morning is going to be useless. That you will be in denial
Circle the wagons to protect Dave
And say it is all my fault for goading him.
The law does not talk about what provokes the abuser.
The law talks about the behavior of the abuser
Mark was asking me: what do you need? What’s the next step in this progression.?
That he puts pressure on your throat and keeps you from breathing?
Mark said if I went to an employment law attorney: If I told the attorney of episodes of shouting and out of control behavior including threats, and then if I told my employment law attorney that then he put his hands around my throat. There is not an employment attorney who would think it is ok …
This is pretty simple.
Verbal abuse and physical abuse is what it is all about.
Safety in the workplace
My goal today is to get a commitment from the court that this behavior is not acceptable. That I will not be subject to verbal or physical abuse from Dave
And I want Dave to get meaningful counseling to address this problem
If I cannot get that internally, then I am prepared to try a different avenue and to get help externally