Wisconsin Prosecutor Probes Alleged Pre-Labor Ruling Judge Assault

Monday, 15 Aug 2011 02:41 PM

The district attorney of Wisconsin’s Sauk County will probe the alleged assault of one state Supreme Court justice by another on the day before the panel upheld a law restricting collective bargaining.

The incident allegedly took place June 13 at the court in Madison, the seat of Dane County. The next day, the court reinstated the legislation, which applies to state employees.

Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne, who filed the suit that led to the ruling, had sought the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the incident involving Justices David Prosser and Ann Walsh Bradley. Bradley accused Prosser of putting her in a chokehold, a claim Prosser denied, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Ozanne cited a report from the office of Sheriff David Mahoney in making his request to Dane County Chief Judge C. William Foust, who announced the appointment today.

Barrett, a Republican, declined to comment on her appointment. Prosser and Bradley couldn’t be immediately reached. Tom Sheehan, a spokesman for the state supreme court, couldn’t be immediately reached for comment and clerks for justices didn’t immediately respond to e-mails.

Ozanne, a Democrat, challenged Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s collective-bargaining legislation in a suit filed in March asserting Republican legislators violated the open meetings law, invalidating the adoption by the state Senate.

In its ruling, a majority of the Supreme Court agreed that the open meetings law doesn’t apply to the Legislature. Prosser concurred with the majority decision, while Bradley dissented in part.

Mahoney’s report on the alleged incident between the justices, delivered to Ozanne July 28, makes no recommendations on charges, a police spokeswoman said. Ozanne didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment on Barrett’s appointment.

Barrett, who has served as district attorney since 1995, announced in January that she wouldn’t be seeking re- election when her term expires in 2013, according to Tom Silberg of the Wisconsin State Bar Association.

A native of Pennsylvania, Barrett graduated from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1986. She made an unsuccessful run in 2000 for circuit judge in Sauk County, whose seat is Baraboo, about 30 miles northwest of Madison.

“The main concern for us was that we would not be involved in the decision in this case because of our involvement,” Ozanne said in an interview about why he sought a special prosecutor. ‘I thought this office could be fair in handling it but we needed to avoid any false perception.”

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