When you think about the justices on your state supreme court, you probably picture them as grown ups who can manage their tempers at work; after all, judicial objectivity and fairness require a certain kind of temperament. But if you live in Wisconsin, you need to rethink that. One of your state justices, Justice David Prosser, apparently has quite the temper, and just recently exploded at the Chief Justice (a woman), calling her a “bitch” while threatening to destroy her, claiming it “won’t be a ground war!”
Instead of apologizing for this, he and his conservative buddies think it was warranted, and determined that she “goaded” him into being abusive and are setting him up because of his upcoming election on April 5 against assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg. So, basically, imagine the “judicial and political conservatives” on the court as blaming the victims and one of them thinking that calling his female better a “bitch” is warranted. In fact, they make it clear that they feel that they are the victims of her “bullying.”
Prosser was favored in the upcoming election until Governor Walker’s anti-union bill was stopped by a restraining order after a county Judge ruled that the Republican state Senators had violated open meeting laws. Prosser announced to a conservative TV host that he was “about 100% sure” that the union busting bill would be heard by the state Supreme Court and his opponent would rule against Walker. He was careful at the end of the interview to say that of course, he hadn’t prejudged how he would rule on the matter, as if people wouldn’t go into shock to see a conservative break from the orders on-high.
He refers to himself as the “stabilizing force” on the court. I’m not sure how threatening a colleague fits into that narrative. He claims that the things coming out against him are out there because of the anti-union bill. He also uses the metaphor of a “gun to my head” to explain that he is limited in what he can spend in his campaign by the rules. So the rules are “guns.” I feel better already.
In addition, Prosser has also been recently linked to Governor Walker by an ad put out by the progressive Greater Wisconsin Committee who claim, “In the legislature, Prosser and Walker voted the same way 95 percent of the time — both voting against the middle class.” And now, interviews and emails reveal that Prosser has a rocky temperament.
The Journal Sentinel Online reports:
As the deeply divided state Supreme Court wrestled over whether to force one member off criminal cases last year, Justice David Prosser exploded at Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson behind closed doors, calling her a “bitch” and threatening to “destroy” her….
Prosser acknowledged the incident recently and said he thought it was becoming public now in an attempt to hurt him politically. Prosser faces Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg in the April 5 election. He said the outburst came after Abrahamson took steps to undermine him politically and to embarrass him and other court conservatives.
“In the context of this, I said, ‘You are a total bitch,’ ” Prosser said. “I probably overreacted, but I think it was entirely warranted. . . . They (Abrahamson and Justice Ann Walsh Bradley) are masters at deliberately goading people into perhaps incautious statements. This is bullying and abuse of very, very long standing.”
“In a fit of temper, you were screaming at the chief; calling her a ‘bitch,‘ threatening her with ‘. . . I will destroy you’; and describing the means of destruction as a war against her ‘and it won’t be a ground war,’ ” Bradley wrote in a Feb. 18, 2010, e-mail to Prosser and others. “In my view, a necessary step to address the dysfunction is to end these abusive temper tantrums. No one brought in from the outside is going to cure this aspect of the dysfunction.”
So, Prosser, who is running again as a Supreme Justice, claims that “they” (two female Justices) are “masters at deliberately goading people” and he feels abused by both women because he called one of the a bitch and the other one repeated what he did. Yes, I can see how this is all their fault. I mean, if they would just let him abuse the Chief, no one would know that Prosser has an abusive temper. Hint: It’s when you ladies object to being abused that the trouble starts.
Later, his buddy Justice Patience Roggensackall jumped in, pointing fingers at the female Justice who sent the email about Prosser’s outburst and threats, blaming her for Prosser’s behavior in an email saying, “…You often goad other justices by pushing and pushing in conference in a way that is simply rude and completely nonproductive. That is what happened when David lost his cool. He is not a man who attacks others without provocation. Until you realize that you are an active part of the provocation, not much will change.”
Roggensackall couched this in language of “shared” responsibility, but the point of the email seems to be that Prosser’s outburst is now everyone’s fault but Prosser’s and that there is apparently a level of verbal provocation that makes threatening someone and calling them a “bitch” not only acceptable, but “justice” deserved. Whatever happened to personal responsibility? What else can Prosser be “provoked” into doing?
Prosser was appointed to the court in 1998 and by all accounts, this court doesn’t play well together. The accusations back and forth are dizzying. And maybe they all have a point. But in the end, it doesn’t matter what the issues are, it matters how they are handled. We should note that the Chief Justice is above Prosser on the food chain as well so his disrespect smells faintly of insubordination.
It’s no one’s fault but Prosser’s that he called a Supreme Court Justice a “bitch” and it’s no one’s fault but his that he is blaming her for it. It doesn’t bring me much comfort that Prosser’s friends are blaming other Justices for Prosser’s behavior, either. I wonder what they would think if a defendant came into their court and said that they only did the crime because so and so provoked them into doing it. I mean, seriously, how old are these people? Conservative family values hard at work again.
When our children blame the other kid for their own behavior, we put them in a time out. When our justices do it, we take to the ballot box.