Two months before state Supreme Court Justice David Prosser put his hands on Justice Ann Walsh Bradley's neck during a heated argument, Bradley and Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson devised a security plan with Capitol Police that included locking themselves in their offices when working at night and weekends, Bradley revealed in a legal memo Wednesday.
In addition to locking their doors, Bradley said she and Abrahamson were given then-Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs' cellphone number in case of emergency and were told there would be more frequent patrols of their Capitol offices.
Bradley also wrote that 16 months before the now-infamous June 13, 2011, altercation, she and Justice Patrick Crooks approached the director of state courts "asking that something be done about Justice Prosser," whom she described as having a history of "abusive temper tantrums."
Bradley made the statements in her decision to recuse herself from the disciplinary case against Prosser filed by the Wisconsin Judicial Commission. The case has stalled since three other justices, plus Prosser, have declined to participate, meaning the seven-member court does not have a quorum to consider the matter.
A message left at Prosser's office Wednesday afternoon was not returned.
Bradley's decision to recuse was expected. But she used the occasion to lash out at Prosser and at fellow Justice Pat Roggensack, whom she accused of downplaying discord on the court to boost her re-election campaign.
Roggensack faces two primary challengers on Tuesday for another 10-year term on the court. The incumbent has called charges by her opponents that the court is dysfunctional "a bunch of gossip."
"It strains credulity that a justice on our court would be perpetuating the myth that our issues of workplace safety and work environment have somehow healed themselves," Bradley wrote.
But Roggensack said her statements were intended to describe the current functioning of the court, not the earlier incident, which she called "awful, terrible and inappropriate."
"Did I think what happened in June 2011 was fine? No," Roggensack said. "But that was nearly two years ago. Nothing has happened since then."
She added that the court regularly meets to discuss cases and "nobody's edgy or yelling or doing anything inappropriately. ... On a daily basis, we're doing fine."
Prosser has successfully argued that without a quorum, the court cannot move his disciplinary case to the next step, a three-judge panel, which would hold a public hearing on the allegations.
Bradley accused Prosser of "procedural maneuvers designed to foreclose any opportunity for a public hearing" which "deprived this court of a quorum and may deprive the people of this state a full opportunity to learn what happened."
Three of the seven justices have faced discipline over the past five years. In one case, Justice Annette Ziegler acknowledged having a conflict of interest when serving as a lower-court judge. In another case, the court deadlocked 3-3 along ideological lines about whether to discipline Justice Michael Gableman over a misleading campaign ad.
Bradley called on the court to put others in charge of disciplining Supreme Court justices.
"The current system," Bradley wrote, "destroys collegiality, compromises accountability and contributes to the dysfunction of the court."