State Supreme Court Justice David Prosser said Monday that the Wisconsin Judicial Commission's investigation into his alleged ethical violations is itself a violation of his constitutional rights, according to a court filing.
Prosser, the subject of an ethics complaint filed in March with the Supreme Court, said in his response to the complaint Monday that the commission "may not investigate or prosecute protected speech, advocacy and etiquette of Wisconsin Supreme Court justices when they are deliberating in confidential closed conferences."
The three alleged ethics violations stem from a June 13 incident in which Prosser acknowledges putting his hands around the neck of Justice Ann Walsh Bradley "to protect himself" and a February 2010 incident in which he admits calling Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson "a total bitch."
"For an outside agency dominated by gubernatorial appointees to seek to breach the confidentiality of closed Supreme Court conferences in order to monitor, oversee and prosecute the speech and lawful conduct of justices would violate the separation of powers and disrupt the work of the Supreme Court," the response states.
Allowing complaints like the one filed against him also would deny justices the ability to defend themselves without violating the court's ethical rules requiring them to maintain confidentiality, Prosser said in his response.
He also charged that the complaint is "frivolous" because all of the justices either witnessed or participated in at least one of the alleged incidents and "will never be able to sit as judges in this case."