A third Wisconsin Supreme Court justice has recused himself from the ethics case against fellow Justice David Prosser, casting doubt on whether the high court will ever hear the case.
Justice Michael Gableman’s recusal today leaves the court without a quorum to hear the disciplinary case against Prosser.
He joins justices Annette Ziegler and Pat Roggensack in saying he would not take part in considering a March complaint against Prosser by the Wisconsin Judicial Commission.
The commission has accused Prosser of violating judicial ethics when he put his hands on the neck of Justice Ann Walsh Bradley during an argument in front of four other justices last year.
Prosser said the contact happened by reflex as Bradley charged at him.
With the three recusals, plus Prosser, only three justices of the seven-member court — not enough for a quorum — are left to hear the commission’s complaint.
Normally, such a panel hears judicial ethics cases to determine the facts and makes recommendations on any discipline to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court then makes the final ruling and issues any punishment.
Prosser has contended none of his fellow justices can hear the case because they are witnesses or biased against him.
Milwaukee lawyer Franklyn Gimbel, the special prosecutor in the case, contends that Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson has the authority to send the case to be heard by a special panel of three appeals court judges.