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WI Justice Ann Walsh Bradley’s abusive claim of abuse

WI Justice Ann Walsh Bradley’s abusive claim of abuse

Wisconsin Justice Ann Walsh Bradley publicly accused Justice David Prosser of using a “chokehold” on her during an incident on June 13, 2011.

As discussed on Thursday, the investigative file shows that the accusation was false and misleading.  Read my post, Turns out WI Justice Ann Walsh Bradley was the one with the anger management problem, for the details.

Prosser never choked Bradley, much less used a chokehold, even though Bradley told the public otherwise and sat by as Prosser was widely vilified for having choked Bradley.

There is another aspect of this case, however, which is just as troubling as the false accusation of a chokehold.  Bradley has cynically use of the very real problem of workplace safety as both a sword with which to attack Prosser and a shield to deflect from her own aggressive conduct which precipitated the incident.

Whatever was the past history of acrimony on the Court, there was only one person on the Wisconsin Supreme Court who initiated a physical confrontation with another Justice, and that person was Bradley.

I quote extensively from the investigative file below, and include even longer excerpts in a companion post.  (Note:  Emphasis in the quoted sections is mine.)  It is important that the record be quoted, because Bradley has been so vociferous and public in her claim that she is the victim of workplace violence while the facts show otherwise.

There are some differences in observation and memory among the Justices present, which is not suprising in an event that lasted seconds.  But there also is a surprising commonality to their observations.

The investigative file shows that multiple Justices informed investigators that Prosser was standing just outside Bradley’s office in the room where Bradley’s secretary sat, when Prosser made a comment to Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson that he did not have confidence in her leadership.

While Bradley says Prosser used a loud voice, others say he did not.  But no one, including Bradley, claims that Prosser moved towards either Abrahamson or Bradley, or undertook any other physically hostile actions.

At that point, after Prosser’s comment to Abrahamson, Bradley left her chair behind her desk, moved quickly towards Prosser (some describe it as walking quickly, some as charging):

From Ziegler Interview:  “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.””

From Gableman Interview:  “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.”

Bradley told investigators that she approached Prosser in an aggressive manner deliberately:

From Bradley Interview: “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 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.

According to two Justices present (Roggensack and Ganbleman) Bradley raised her fist in Prosser’s face such that one Justice pulled her away for fear Bradley would strike Prosser in the face:

From Roggensack interview:  “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 .””

From Gableman interview:  “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.”

Bradley told investigators that she did not have a closed fist, but was pointing with her index finger, with the other fingers clenched:

From Bradley Interview:  “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….”

So  by multiple accounts, Bradley either had a fully or almost fully clenched raised fist as she approached Prosser.

Bradley’s approach was so aggressive that Justice Roggensack jumped in to pull Bradley away from Prosser, and scolded Bradley that such conduct was not like her.  Bradley did not deny this had happened:

From Bradley Interview:  “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.””

In this incident, which lasted just a few seconds, Prosser raised his hands to push Bradley away. Everyone, from Bradley to Prosser to every other Justice present who was able to observe, told investigators that Prosser raised his hands only in response to Bradley’s approach.

Everyone, including Bradley, also told investigators that Prosser’s hands came in contact with Bradley’s neck area only momentarily, with no pressure being applied.

From Bradley Interview: “Justice Bradley did not recall Justice Prosser squeezing or applying pressure around her neck.”

From Roggensack Interview:  “Justice Roggensack said Justice Bradley mentioned [at a meeting two days later] 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.””

This is consistent with Prosser’s statement that he reacted to Bradley’s approach reflexively, sought to push her away from him, and pulled back when he realized his hands had touched her neck, not just her shoulders.

Yet Bradley immediately and repeatedly claimed a chokehold was used on her.

An incident in which Bradley charged or quickly moved at Prosser, did so deliberately to intimidate him and get in his face, in which Bradley’s fully or almost fully raised fist was near Prosser’s face, was turned by Bradley into a choking incident even though she admitted to investigators and her colleagues that there was no choking.

From the moment of the incident, Bradley began a campaign to paint the issue as not about her own aggressive conduct, but workplace safety and Prosser’s alleged past history of verbal conflict with other Justices.

Soon after the incident Bradley called the Capitol Police to demand a meeting about workplace safety, and then gave a planned presentation to the other Justices at a conference two days later using the following script (the full script is printed in the companion post):

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.

What’s next.

I have the right as a state employee to enter my workplace without any fear of verbal or physical abuse

Bradley’s script also emphasized violence against women:

Monday night [my husband] 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.

Bradley has continued to use the theme of workplace safety even after the charges were dropped against Prosser, in this statement she released:

This is and remains an issue of workplace safety.

My focus from the outset has not been one of criminal prosecution, but rather addressing workplace safety….

I well understand the difficulty of gaining any criminal conviction.  The prosecution’s burden of proof is very heavy, as it should be….

With the potential for prosecution now eliminated, I will renew my efforts to seek the cooperation of my colleagues on the court to resolve this progressive workplace safety issue.  With the continued cooperation of others both on court staff and outside the court, I remain committed to the goal that we can achieve the safe workplace that all employees—private and public—are entitled to have under the law.

Yet absent from any of Bradley’s statements and demands for workplace safety is an acknowledgement that she precipitated this confrontation by aggressively moving at Prosser in a manner which a reasonable person could view as threatening, or at least react to by pushing back.

Bradley’s actions forced Prosser, in a fraction of a second, either to push her away or risk what Justice Roggensack feared for Prosser, a punch in the face.  It is not surprising that in these circumstances no charges were brought against Prosser.

The issue was not, as Bradley suggested in her statement, that the prosecution would have had a “very heavy burden of proof.”  By suggesting that Prosser committed a crime but it could not be proven, Bradley once again demonstrated an inability to consider the significance of her own actions.

Bradley and Bradley alone was the person who turned an argument in which she was not even involved into a face-to-face physical confrontation.

It was bad enough that Bradley made a false public accusation that a chokehold was used on her.  That accusation has forever damaged David Prosser.

Bradley compounded that error by invoking workplace safety as a rhetorical sword and shield to direct attention away from her own aggressive conduct.  By falsely crying workplace safety, Bradley damaged the fight against real workplace violence.

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Safety is as Safety does.

[…] William Jacobson explains just how much more toxic Bradley has made the Wisconsin Supreme Court. […]

… Bradley once again demonstrated an inability to consider the significance of her own actions.

… and this comes from a state supreme court justice.
This seems to be one of those “sane person in an insane world” scenarios. Exactly what are “‘sane persons’ like ourselves to do ?

DINORightMarie | August 29, 2011 at 9:49 am

“‘I will renew my efforts to seek the cooperation of my colleagues on the court to resolve this progressive workplace safety issue.'” – Justice Bradley

Just what do the words “progressive workplace safety” mean? Does that me that workplace safety is an issue that progressives use as a tool to control social behavior – similar to “political correctness” but using the law to formalize it? Or does it mean that it will become “progressively” – i.e. more and more – oppressive, and that the burden of proof will no longer be “…very heavy, as it should be….” (per her presentation). Or…..what?

I would say it means “making all minority and/or non-white-males ‘victims’ and that all perps are ‘angry-white-males'”. Similar to the term racism; progressives have redefined “racism” to mean “whites against everyone not white” so that white people can’t bring “reverse racism” charges against a minority. (Note: I have other links, if necessary, but Univ. of Delaware is enough, I would hope, to support my point.)

I would say that this presentation, and her contradictory “interview” later, not only shows she is grossly incapable of doing her job as Justice, but also reveals her agenda in making the public false accusations.

She needs to resign, or be removed from the bench.

Perhaps the only solution to these situations is the same that Progressives came up with when dealing with persons who might otherwise be added to the prison population of Gitmo … take no prisoners.

One important thing to remember before we get all judgmental about Bradley, which also should affect the way we look at everybody: Judge Bradley may actually remember the events in her mind differently than the way they actually happened.

It is fairly well-known that memory is a malleable thing, it tends to warp and distort according to the pressures put on it. The crook who says “I wasn’t there”, the man who says “I didn’t hit her that hard”, the judge who says “He choked me” may all be relating events that to their own recollections are perfectly correct. There is a strong tendency in memory to place ones own self in the best possible light no matter what, like the Mary Sue trope .

If you live long enough, everybody will eventually experience someone with their own “special” view of an event they witnessed, and not all the videotape or other eyewitness testimony will shake them from “their” point of view, right up to claiming all the video was forged and the witnesses part of a conspiracy (in extreme cases).

(paraphrased) Do not always attribute to malice, what can be explained by wishful thinking.

    scooby509 in reply to georgfelis. | August 29, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    georg: Whether she is dishonestly presenting her recollection of the events or, alternately, doesn’t have the capacity to recall details objectively, the bottom line is the same: she is not qualified to be a lawyer, let alone a judge.

The most problematic part of this farce is the lack of any action by Chief Justice Abrahamson. It defies the imagination. She clearly has no control over her court and I have seen little criticism of her action (or better said, lack of action) in this matter. I can’t believe she got a pass.

The statement she released on the 26th was pablum. We all know that Bradley is her BFF, but wouldn’t you think that Abrahamson would have been able to rise above that? After all, it’s her court.

Her lack of leadership makes a mockery of Wisconsin’s Judicial branch. Chief Justice Abrahamson, have you no shame? Apparently not.

    gmcgrann in reply to tiger66. | August 30, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    I think you are wrong. I think Justice Abrahamson is very much in control of the court.

    I have followed this from afar, and don’t know the personalities. But there have been enough hints of Justice Abrahamson’s corrosive behavior that I cannot help but think of the situation I found myself in when a new law firm was formed by about twenty of us years ago. We had one fellow whose specialty was turning each of us against the other. The confrontations, managed by him, were always engineered so proxies faced off. To the outside world, it looked as if we just hated each other; but those on the inside could see what was happening. We just could not stop it.

    When the fellow left the firm, we all found out that we liked each other again.

    This is what seems to me is happening on the Wisconsin court. Note that Prosser’s words were with Abrahamson, but the proxy Bradley responded. Notice also how silent (or relatively so) Abrahamson has been since the incident. I’m no psychologist, but I think this gives a good explanation. I think Abrahamson is engineering the confrontation.

Bradley is safe in her seat until the voters turn her out and even that’s not a given. There have been rumors around Wisconsin for years about the behind closed doors behavior of the court under Abrahamson’s tenure. Bradley chose to take this flap public knowing that there would be no serious repercussions for her. She’s Abrahamson’s right hand. The Wisconsin Supreme Court is just as politically polarized as the rest of Wisconsin and that’s not likely to change in the near future.

I was reading more about this incident where it was suggested that Bradley should step down because she in essence accusing Prosser of a felony (attacking a judge) if no charges are filed against Prosser. Since no charges were filed, does this mean that Prosser has an ability to bring a defamation suit against Bradley for the accusations since they are not filing charges against Bradley for making the accusation?

It is my opinion that Bradley used Prosser’s statement to lure him into touching her (as he did briefly) but he did not co-operate enough to make it a crime. But, being a dim, she was not going to let this opportunity go to waste. She did not dare lie to prosecutors but she did lie to the public with the willing media aiding her. She is now in the position of covering her own butt. The prosecutor’s report has just been made public and the backlash has not started for Bradley. Her public tale and the depositions of witnesses refutes her words. She is now changing the subject, more or less, and without saying she was a victim still is giving the impression that Prosser did, in fact choke her. Apperances and suppossitions are everything to dims… facts not so much.

OTOH, she could have just lost her temper and decided to use the incident to bring down Porsser without thinking about the non co-operation of witnesses. She could be doggedly sticking to her story because the truth makes her look like the thug that she is. Like I said…covering her butt.

“Judge Bradley may actually remember the events in her mind differently than the way they actually happened.”

So?

I’ll bet you that when she charged him and started waving her fist in his face that he also reflexively blinked.

Couldn’t that blink be construed as a sexist wink?

She talks about workplace safety? Is one helping to create a safe workplace atmosphere by charging towards a coworker and waving one’s fist in that coworker’s face? Isn’t that increasing the likelihood of a physical altercation?

If she truly felt Justice Prosser was being disruptive, why couldn’t she have remained calmly seated behind her desk and asked Justice Prosser to leave? If he had refused to leave, why couldn’t she have said that they would continue the conversation at a later time?

Surely in her career as a judge she’s heard witnesses, defendants, defense lawyers, prosecutors, etc., give testimony, pursue lines of questioning/reasoning etc., that she’s found to be offensively wrong or misleading, etc. But I’ll bet she never left her chair in such instances to get in the offending party’s face. Certainly she’s capable of self-control … something we should certainly expect of our judges.

Was she perhaps on a fishing expedition with her aggresive approach to Judge Prosser? Perhaps hoping to startle him into reflexively reacting in a way that could be used against him? It certainly seems possible that either consciously or subconsciously, this was her intent.

LukeHandCool (who thinks it’s a sorry state of affairs when his kids have much more self-control than a state supreme court judge … but not all that surprising when said judge is a liberal).

[…] enough outrage has been expressed about WI Justice Ann Walsh Bradley’s abusive claim of abuse. Prof. Jacobson hopes to rectify that. As discussed on Thursday, the investigative file shows that […]

What is really sad is that had this happened in a private business Justice Bradley would be looking at harsh displinary action or out right dismissal. But because she is in the government no such mechanism is set up to occur.

I am very frustrated with the events but even more so am tired of elected liberal officials and liberal government employees of WI making us looking like a bunch of idiots.

The only good thing I have heard come out of her mouth recently is her intention to retire. This leaves a problem because she has nothing to lose now.

BannedbytheGuardian | August 29, 2011 at 9:09 pm

I read the local newspapers after this event. A Law Professor from Marquise University was quoted . In short he directly accused Prosser of terrorizing bradley & ALL female staff by the chokehold . What sort of Prof states this on no evidence ?

There is something truly weird in Wisconsin. Is thee no objectivity , no logic even amongst Law Professors. (Yeah Yeah i know it is a Catholic University – but that guy is no Jesuit – this place must be the Irish Union dominium. Whatever – it made the University look stupid-which it probably was anyhow.

[…] pressed charges, but rather took the case public and accused him in the court of public opinion. She, and quite a few progressive activists and bloggers, now owe him a very large apology.Call me crazy, but if the Postal Service really wants to cut costs, it can stop paying tens of […]

[…] Jacobson at Legal Insurrection, who has been closely following the case, summarizes the fallout from the official […]

[…] Legal Insurrection has taken a look at the case file generated after WI Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley accused Chief Justice David Prosser of putting her in a chokehold. He was cleared, and is innocent of the charge, but that hasn’t stopped Bradley’s public relations campaign against him. The case file makes it abundantly clear that he never did anything more than raise his hands to defend himself when Walsh ran up toward him and shook her fist within an inch of his face more than once. So yes, TPM Muckraker readers, Prosser was the victim, both of an attempt to intimidate him and of an attempt to smear him. […]

[…] Gabe Malor, Professor Jacobson has some views on who exactly it was that made the Wisconsin State Supreme Court … Rumor has it that Justice Patrick Crooks (liberal) may resign […]

[…] We all know the story by now – Wisconsin Justice Ann Walsh Bradley publicly accused Justice David Prosser of using a “chokehold” on her during an incident on June 13 of this year. […]

[…] We all know the story by now – Wisconsin Justice Ann Walsh Bradley publicly accused Justice David Prosser of using a “chokehold” on her during an incident on June 13 of this year. […]

Excellent summary of the testimonial record, Professor. She should resign.

On a personal and professional level, it certainly seems clear that Justice Bradley also owes Justice Prosser a huge apology for having falsely and very publicly accused him of an act that would amount to the commission of at least one felony under Wisconsin law, (940.203 Battery or threat to judge) and then subsequently, for attempting to invoke what amounted to an abuse of process by de facto retreating from her initial “chokehold” claim, by specifically demanding that he be subjected to “workplace violence” rules.

Both were obviously highly personal, emotional, and revengeful outbursts on her part. They are the kinds of initial rantings that police everywhere deal with all the time, though certainly not in situations that typically involve high level public officials!

In some ways, the latter offense – the attempted abuse of process — is the more serious one for the very basic reason that Wisconsin Supreme Court justices are (within the confines of their state’s constitutional structure) the final arbiters when it comes to 1) both the ultimate scope and meaning of many executive branch processes, 2) to some extent the legislative processes, and 3) the exclusive arbiters of the judicial processes.

Those processes are specifically formulated to help maintain a somewhat predictable and reasonable institutional framework for dispute resolution, the basis of which relies on participants being able to separate the factual wheat from the emotional chaff. She obviously failed miserably on that score!

In addition, she personally owes the public an apology for intentionally misstating what happened during an incident on public property involving the highest level state officials, and for precipitously invoking the legal process, including the criminal process, for patently personal reasons.

But of course, none of those things are ever going to happen. And the Court is, in consequence, caught in a conundrum.

Who, or what institution, will take up the cause of pursuing a way of straightening this all out? What institution or officials will volunteer to oversee that process? What institutional framework exists to provide an orderly avenue for review of any decision(s) reached? The majority of the members of the Supreme Court are witnesses, and as a result all have an inherent conflict of interest in this case. But the failure to deal with this in some institutional fashion will leave a huge stain on entire process of Wisconsin state government.

Therefore, the State may be left with a stain . . . pubic proof of the glaring inability of the highest constitutional court in the State of Wisconsin to resolve a highly petty and personal dispute, precipitated by one justice publicly having launched patently false charges against another justice.

It simply fails the “straight face test” of expectations of proper judicial demeanor, and risks making the Wisconsin court system the laughingstock of the nation.

Hey, crock-troch, the special prosecutor (a Republican) in this case found NOTHING, NADA, ZIPPO. Therefore, there is NO reason to continue with your insistence that Bradley and Abrahamson should be punished for their allegedly false statements. And apologies? Get real! Chew on this…the personal and petty disputes are the result of the actions from EVERYONE involved, in some way, shape, or form. It is your post that fails the “straight face test”, so quit playing the blame game.

Prosser admitted he put his hands around her neck. That is fact. The dispute centers around how to characterize that action. To me, it’s a great lawyer trick for one person to say “chokehold” and another person to dispute that definition. Both sides are engaging in one upsmanship.

Get rid of EVERY single one of them and start fresh! Let the VOTERS decide.

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