Condensed accounts of what each of the six state Supreme Court justices present during the June 13 altercation between justices David Prosser and Ann Walsh Bradley said they saw and heard. The justices were arguing about when to issue a decision on a controversial collective bargaining law, and whether to put out a press release announcing the decision was imminent. Justice Patrick Crooks was not present.
Justice Ann Walsh Bradley
Described a verbal altercation between Prosser and Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson leading up to the incident. After the words escalated, Bradley approached Prosser. “Buddy, don’t raise your voice again,” she said. Said she was pointing with her left hand toward the door that was behind him and said, “You get out of my office.” She said she remained in control and knows her hand never came between her face and Prosser’s face. Prosser grabbed her by the neck in what she described as a “choke hold.” “Get your hands off my neck,” she told him. Said Justice Patience Roggensack then pulled her away. “I didn’t touch him at all,” Bradley said. She thought Prosser’s hands were on her neck for a few seconds but didn’t feel pain or inhibited breathing. Immediately after, she sat down at her desk to type an incident report. As she was typing she became emotional and had to go home.
Justice David Prosser
Described his interaction with Abrahamson as “not hostile, just a conversation.” When Abrahamson told him she wasn’t going to speed up release of the court’s decision, he told her “with a lot of control” that he had lost confidence in her leadership. Bradley charged him. “She exploded out of that room,” he said. With her right fist six inches from the left side of his face, he put out his arms in front of him and made contact with her neck with both hands. He remembers feeling the warmth on the side of her neck as his fingers rested against it. Once his hands were on Bradley’s neck, he said she screamed, “Don’t you ever put your hands on me!” and “Get out of my office!” Her hands never touched him, he said. He and Justice Michael Gableman left immediately after. He did not apologize because he said he felt he did nothing wrong.
Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson
Said Prosser grew agitated and verbally aggressive, accusing Abrahamson of “holding things up” and questioning her leadership. Bradley got up and walked toward Prosser without either hand raised in a threatening manner. Prosser then put his hands up and on her neck. He didn’t appear to squeeze, as Abrahamson said she didn’t see Bradley’s eyes bulge or hear her gasp for air. Bradley “never, never, never touched him,” she said. Prosser could have backed away but “instead went right for the throat.” After Prosser and Gableman left, Roggensack told Abrahamson that “(Prosser) is very frustrated.” “Sometimes I am frustrated too,” Abrahamson replied, “but I don’t have outbursts like that.”
Justice Michael Gableman
Described Prosser bending forward, hands together, as if praying before telling Abrahamson in a “meek and intently sincere” voice that he’s lost confidence in her leadership. Said Bradley then rushed toward Prosser and, with right hand in a fist, made three to four punching motions back and forth, coming within an inch of Prosser’s left cheek. Prosser raised his hands and pushed Bradley near her shoulders “in a defensive move.” “You choked me,” he remembers Bradley saying. “He didn’t choke you,” Gableman responded. “He pushed you to get your fist out of his face.”
Justice Patience Roggensack
Said Abrahamson and Prosser argued over whether to issue a press release announcing a decision on the collective bargaining case was imminent when Bradley charged at Prosser “with her fist in the air.” Prosser raised his hands and put them near Bradley’s neck but “were never in a choke hold.” Roggensack stepped between the two justices and told Bradley it wasn’t like her to behave that way. If she had not intervened, Roggensack believed Bradley would “have smacked him in the face with her fist.” Said they were both out of line and would have received an “F” for the incident.
Justice Annette Ziegler
Said she was present for the incident but had an obstructed view. Described a verbal altercation between Abrahamson and Prosser that included Prosser saying he’s lost confidence in Abrahamson’s leadership. Said Bradley rose from a seated position, walked quickly toward Prosser and “got in his face.” She saw Prosser’s hands up by Bradley’s neck but didn’t know if they were touching her. Told authorities she stayed behind with Abrahamson and Bradley when other justices left and didn’t see any major reaction: Bradley sat down and typed without saying anything, and Abrahamson didn’t question her about the incident. Told authorities, “I know he didn’t choke her” because Bradley and Abrahamson showed such little reaction in the immediate aftermath.