Thursday, June 30, 2011

Strangling Justice

I'll bet you thought that today's Wisconsin was all about high-tension politics and politicians, unions, and Democrats running to other states. But you would be wrong. The inner sanctum of the state's Supreme Court rivals the union occupation of the capitol. And the election fight over who would be the new or re-elected Justice was only the first round. There's a really fun donnybrook going on inside those hallowed chambers.

Wisconsin Justice Ann Walsh Bradley says that Justice David Prosser choked her in the court's back rooms. Prosser denies he did anything of the kind, and further that Bradley launched a physical attack on him that resulted in him having to push her away. I'm not quite sure where the phrase "judicial temperament" fits in here, so I'll leave the conclusion to you. If you'll remember correctly, conservative Justice Prosser was the jurist who was supposed to have been defeated by JoAnne Kloppenberg only to be re-elected handily when it was revealed that an entire voting district had not been counted.

The hot issue of the time was (and is) the public sector union collective bargaining agreements. The legislature and the governor finally passed legislation removing all public employee bargaining privileges except for wages, and those are tied to the cost-of-living. Rather than wait for the legislature to re-pass the legislation after legal challenges over the procedures used in the original vote, three of the four conservative justices were ready to issue a ruling upholding the procedure used. Prosser held out, wanting to withhold the opinion so there was no appearance of a "rush to judgment." He convinced the other three to wait.

Prosser thought he and his fellow conservatives had an agreement with the liberal Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, but could not get her to commit formally. She was being pushed by the other liberal justices, including Bradley, to issue the ruling right away. Seeking a firm determination, Prosser and the other three justices literally went searching for the chief justice. They found her, in Bradley's chambers. Prosser told the chief justice that he was quickly losing faith in her ability to make a decision and lead the court.

That did it. Bradley, who has a reputation for leading the chief justice around by the nose, got up from her chair, rounded the desk, and charged Prosser. Several witnesses describe Bradley as "getting right up to Prosser, then shaking her fist within inches of his nose." In such a situation, a man who didn't wish to accelerate the situation might push the other man away by pushing him on the chest. Needless to say, that wouldn't work with a woman. So Prosser pushed her away at the shoulders. Whether he even touched her neck or not remains to be seen.

Let the drama begin! Bradley was shouting "I was choked." Those in the room describe her as at least semi-hysterical. One justice pulled Bradley away, and said "Stop it, Ann, this isn't like you." Another justice said "Aw, c'mon, you weren't choked." But Bradley kept insisting "he put his hands around my neck in anger in a chokehold." Bradley may not be familiar with chokeholds, but if it were true, she would have been unlikely to make any such charges for at least a few minutes. The chokehold was long ago banned for use by the Los Angeles police because it can not only cause unconsciousness, but in certain sensitive people, it can even bring about death. But nothing's going to stop an hysteric.

And the drama continues. That Monday night, Bradley called Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs to report the incident. The next Wednesday, Tubbs conducted a closed-door lecture on "issues relating to workplace violence." Ah, nothing calms the waters like a good anger management, violence in the workplace seminar. Bradley was probably not a very good lawyer, because during the seminar she accidentally admitted that Prosser had not used excessive force.

The justice who had separated the two stated categorically that Prosser had applied no pressure whatsoever, let alone to her neck. She retorted: "That's only because you broke us apart." So, he might have choked her, given the chance, but didn't? It's beginning to sound like the Al Sharpton defense: "So it's not true--but it could have been."

But Bradley wasn't going to let logic get in the way of her anger. She demanded that the justices force Prosser into anger management counseling. I guess she was really, really angry when she made that outrageous demand. She made a very clear threat. If they didn't do what she wanted, she would take the next step and file a restraining order against Prosser. And what would that order say? "Justice Prosser is hereby restrained from defending himself with minimal force against an approaching harpy?" Or "Justice Prosser shall not choke Justice Bradley, even if he never has in the past and there is no credible evidence that he would in the future?"

The justices decided not to cave in to the threat, and as of this writing, no restraining order has been requested by Bradley. Chief Justice Abrahamson takes no stand on what occurred, Prosser and the other justices deny there was any choking or even anything like choking. That leaves only two witnesses who claim there was a choking--Bradley herself, and her law clerk who was not present in the room but only heard Bradley saying "I was choked."

At this point, it may seem like a tempest in a teapot, but it ain't over 'til it's over. The Capitol Police did a cursory investigation, then tossed the matter to the County Sheriff's office like a hot potato. This could stir the pot again. The sheriff is one David Mahoney. Mahoney is politically-active for Democrats and liberal candidates, and appeared in a TV ad supporting the reelection of Chief Justice Abrahamson. And guess who else was in that ad. Maryann Sumi, the judge who ruled that the legislature and the governor had acted improperly in the collective bargaining legislation. That is the ruling that Prosser and the conservative justices overruled. And finally, Mahoney supported Kloppenberg against Prosser in the recent election. Enough intrigue for you for the Independence Day weekend?

50 comments:

T-Rav said...

Oh my head hurts...I had heard about this a few days ago, but reading the sordid details and the possibility that these leftist henchmen might yet tear Prosser down is infuriating. How did this harpy get put on the bench?

Oh wait, I forgot. It's Wisconsin.

AndrewPrice said...

This sounds very much like Democratic dirty politics -- make a false accusation, get some other Democrats to pretend it's very serious, use that to smear someone and then whether the whole thing falls apart or not doesn't matter because you've ruined the guy's reputation.

LawHawkRFD said...

T-Rav: They didn't succeed with their "keep counting until the Democrat wins" strategy, so they went to Plan B. If you can't use the law, abuse it. Disgusting.

LawHawkRFD said...

Andrew: In some ways, it's similar to the set-up they're doing on Justice Thomas. I haven't seen this kind of childish behavior from jurists since we had to remove our own Chief Justice and two of her fellow-travelers from the California Supreme Court the last time Jerry Brown was governor.

Anonymous said...

This is like a cheesy soap opera, only worse because it's really happening.

Democrats are despicable!

TJ

StanH said...

I’d like to choke her, can’t you see the evil leftist witch shaking her fist in your face. This will go nowhere in my opinion, just a hassle. Great inside look Lawhawk. When you were a judge did you choke any of your colleagues in the cloak room? Ha…

BevfromNYC said...

So who exactly has to adhere to "Conflict of Interest" rules these days? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? AAAAHHHHHHH! Phew...Okay I'm better now...

T-Rav said...

LawHawk, a few days ago I was with my mom in the car and she was talking about how the country wouldn't survive with so many people spending their entire lives on welfare and so on. Anyway, I said to her something like, "Well, if it does collapse, the last stage will be when someone tries to pull the plug on those people getting fat on welfare, and then they'll try to take it by force." Exhibit A: Wisconsin.

LawHawkRFD said...

TJ: I had always held out the judiciary to be the last bastion of public political decorum. That theory is now out the window. I think we might as well put to bed the expression "sober as a judge" as well.

LawHawkRFD said...

Stan: At the risk of sounding sexist, it's one of those things an enraged female can do to a male, and no matter what the male does next, he's in trouble.

No, the worst I ever did was to occasionally threaten to shoot some attorneys if they didn't behave. I do admit I once brought down the gavel on a loudmouth attorney from L.A. who put his hand on the bench without asking permission. I've mellowed considerably since then. LOL

LawHawkRFD said...

Bev: That's easy. Only conservatives are required to mind the rules of conflict and incompatibility of office. And even if they do, someone will make something up. While you weren't looking, Obamaholder granted blanket exemptions for liberals.

LawHawkRFD said...

T-Rav: It's already in full bloom in Greece, and it has started here. Let's hope we stop it before it can go any farther. Wisconsin is a good example of both government handouts and government responsibility, but we haven't seen it play out long enough to know which view is going to triumph in the end.

Joel Farnham said...

LawHawk,

It seems that the fairer sex, ain't.

It is situations like this that I regret that dueling has been outlawed.

Could Justice Prosser sue Justice Bradley for defamation of character as well as assault? I mean there were witnesses.

StanH said...

Judge Roy Bean is that you…Ha! Don’t make me get my gun counselor.

LawHawkRFD said...

Joel: I'd have to know Wisconsin's defamation statutes, but odds are pretty good that he neither could nor would. Unlike Bradley, Prosser actually understands civilized restrained. As for the assault, it would be a very similar kind of reasoning, which is why in a "he said, she said" mutual affray, odds are there would be no criminal charges, unlikely there would be civil charges, and no result that would not be detrimental to both parties and the preservation of what's left of judicial temperament.

LawHawkRFD said...

Stan: Yep, that's me, the law west of the Kern River.

Writer X said...

Old ladies in wheelchairs going through TSA airport checkpoints are touched more than Bradley has been. And are less hysterical about it.

Tennessee Jed said...

Libs have absolutely no shame. I think Bradley should resign. I have a name for her, but political correctness prevents my using it. I saw this over at National Review and was shocked and appalled.

LawHawkRFD said...

WriterX: That's the best way of looking at it that I've seen so far. Genuine perspective!

LawHawkRFD said...

Tennessee: I first picked the story up from a few legal publications. Even the liberal lawyers weren't cutting Bradley a lot of slack. She should resign, but she won't.

Tehachapi Tom said...

Hawk
Out there on the edge of the civilized world how do you get all these nity grity details?

Any one checking a map can see that Caliente is remote. Do you have telephone or is it still telegraph out there on the edge of the wilderness?

BevfromNYC said...

Writer X: That poor woman probably had her ticket and the proper id too. Unlike the Nigerian guy who boarded a plane at Kennedy Airport with an old boarding pass with another name and a some college id. HE gets a free pass, but some elderly cancer patient gets a strip search. How can we take any of this seriously anymore?

rlaWTX said...

how do lefties take themselves seriously? and SOOOOO seriously, at that??? < sigh >

Writer X said...

Bev, to say that I've been angry about TSA and the Obama administration this week would be an understatement. But what makes me even angrier is the lack of outrage about it from politicians, this administration, even political candidates. I realize it's one situation in lots of situations but it's part of a bigger problem. On the one hand, we have Hilary Clinton taking time out from being Secretary of State to help pimp Lady Gaga in Italy but we have no one--no one except people like you and me--to stand up in defense of this dying woman and her family and say, "What's wrong with this goddamn picture?!"

StanH said...

It’s the land of the liberal, WriterX.

LawHawkRFD said...

Tehachapi Tom: I have two tin cans and a VERY long string. And carrier pigeons.

LawHawkRFD said...

Bev: We have to take it seriously, just not the way the TSA thinks it is serious.

LawHawkRFD said...

rlaWTX: Have you noticed how intellekshal and akademmic they are, right up until someone challenges them? Then they become shrill and combative. They don't like their insular and self-congratulatory world being attacked.

LawHawkRFD said...

WriterX: It's the understory that is truly scary. The rules, the rules. This is the kind of bureaucratic fascism that leads ultimately to the Nuremberg defense: "I was only following orders."

LawHawkRFD said...

WriterX: But Lady Gaga is supporting the true cause, the most important thing in all our lives today--gay rights. So some poor, innocent and dying old lady got caught up in the rules, so what? We have a limited supply of resources, and they must be spent carefully on the big things, like stopping discrimination against lesbians, gays, transgenders and transvestites. In fact, Hillary Clinton knows that if it weren't for gender/sex/species discrimination we wouldn't be involved in so many undeclared and undefined foreign wars. It's the job of the Secretary of State, after all, to recognize these priorities.

LawHawkRFD said...

Stan: Is that anything like Land O' Lakes, which is next door to Wisconsin?

Joel Farnham said...

LawHawk, WriterX,and Bev,

TSA isn't just for the airports. Airports are just the most visible. TSA has spread out and now can operate on bus terminals, train terminals and virtually any place terrorists can possibly be.

They are also unaccountable. So far, the people involved with the brutalizing of passengers have been getting slaps on the wrist if they are punished at all. If a passenger makes any kind of waves, like that mother who legally wanted her breast-milk to be passed through and had the temerity to have the requisite law handy in a readable format, they target the passenger.

The Obama Administration has threatened various states, notably Texas, with sanctions if they pass any anti-fondling laws specific to regulating TSA.

To date, TSA has never caught a terrorist. Not one. It does hire felons and persons of questionable character. I am wondering if they will hire Muslims? TSA could easily be considered racist if it excludes them.

BevfromNYC said...

LawHawk, you left out Bisexuals. What's wrong with you????

Oh, by the way, did you hear the one about Obama bombing another country yesterday? Now we're having a "Non-War" with Somalia now. Who knew that those drones would be so handy at "Non-Warfare".

Okay, I'm gonna say it...If Bush had decided to authorize drone attacks whenever and wherever all over the world, wouldn't we have impeached him?

LawHawkRFD said...

Joel: The TSA is becoming a real octopus, with tentacles everywhere. So far the most egregious examples of bureaucratic perversity have taken place at airports. But give them time, particularly if they unionize.

BevfromNYC said...

OMG - Just read that Thaddeus McCotter has put together an "exploratory committee" to run for Pres. 2012!!! I loves me some McCotter....Of course take this with a grain of salt. It was reported on HuffPo.

You may go back to your regular commenting...

LawHawkRFD said...

Bev: Damn, I knew I left some poor oppressed minority out. Of course I come from the old school that says "you can't have it both ways." Or, as H. L. Mencken is reputed to have said, "a bisexual is a homosexual without the courage of his convictions." Nevertheless, I will be sure to include them in any future discussions.

As for Bush, if he had ordered firecrackers shot from air cannons they'd already have him up on war crimes and genocide charges, not to mention impeachment.

Apparently, Obama has convinced himself that if you don't have boots on the ground, you're not at war. Guess he never heard of global thermonuclear war. Maybe we should send him a video of War Games. I'm sure Matthew Broderick would be delighted to present it to him.

LawHawkRFD said...

Bev: I hadn't heard that, and I have no idea how much support he would get, but I would vote for Thad in a hot Caliente minute (and we have plenty of those). Can you imagine that dry, rapier wit in a debate with TelePrompter Obama and his dried-up witlessness?

BevfromNYC said...

If not Pres., then McCotter as VP. Wouldn't you love to see McCotter v. Biden in a debate almost as much...

LawHawkRFD said...

T-Rav: They said the same thing about Carter and Clinton in the early stages. Anything's possible, particularly in a party that is looking for someone to excite the entire party. I agree that it's very unlikely, but I won't count him out if this turns out to be a real effort.

LawHawkRFD said...

Bev: What would be the most fun in that situation would be watching the puzzled look on Biden's face because he doesn't get it.

Joel Farnham said...

LawHawk,

What do you know about California Tax and Amazon?

LawHawkRFD said...

Joel: Not much, but what is the question? I did only very specialized work in the tax court, largely related to divorce settlements and distribution. There is a legal "residence" for Amazon in California, so sales tax can be charged to purchasers in California, and several other states where Amazon has physical locations or specific tax statutes. Beyond that, I don't know how to answer your question without more detail. Other "taxing" states include Washington, Kentucky, Kansas and North Dakota. Items shipped to states other than those, from states which do not have Amazon "connections," are usually not taxed. I do know that the rules of buying, selling, shipping and taxing via the internet are in serious flux at the moment.

Joel Farnham said...

Well, I read that Amazon has gone John Galt on California. This is the LINK.

California has told Amazon and others to start charging their customers tax. Amazon has decided to terminate deals with 25,000 websites in California. Amazon might cut California totally off. I don't know. I was just wondering if you knew anything new.

LawHawkRFD said...

Joel: Actually, you knew more than I did. And thanks for the info. It's worth a detailed followup and perhaps and article.

I may have gotten sidetracked (or put into shock) when Jerry Brown vetoed card check for farm workers. I can never predict what he's going to do. He's the one who got Cezar Chavez into the farm-destroying union business back in the 70s, and now he's turned his back on their demands. I don't know whether it's conscience or just a political move, but I'll take it either way.

Koshcat said...

WOW! I heard some rumor about this story but...I'm sort of speechless.

Reminds me of a saying my dad used to use that stress is defined as restraining from chocking the shit out of some asshole who deserves it. Prosser should be given a medal and she needs a vacation.

LawHawkRFD said...

Koshcat: As my mom would say, "he showed admirable restraint." My dad probably would have said "what a wuss," but that's another story entirely.

Joel Farnham said...

This is really a philosophical battle as well as a court battle. I don't know if this will actually accomplish something. I do know that tomorrow 25,000 websites won't be shipping products from Amazon. Which if I am correct, people who used Amazon to increase their traffic or whatever no longer get money through Amazon.

Another way of putting it, Amazon sometimes has secondary shippers who send their product at Amazon's request. Let us say you want a fairly rare book. Amazon itself doesn't have it, but in Bakersfield a small store which is attached to Amazon has that book. This one transaction may not make or break the store, but then the money that would travel to California won't be going there.

If you multiply $5 times 25,000 times, let us say once a week, then it starts to add up.(5 x 25,000 x 52) That comes out to 6.5 million dollars NOT coming to California each year from now on. That is probably nothing in terms of making or breaking the economy of California. But California is bleeding businesses now. If there are actually more transactions per day then that amount, 6.5 goes up. It could get really ugly if some of these businesses are the difference between solvency and bankruptcy. Plus it also cuts down how many things are shipped by these stores. Shipping revenue will go down, and the taxes that are applied to them as well.

LawHawkRFD said...

Joel: As the narrative goes, Brown signed the internet affiliate bill to "get back" the millions of dollars it's losing by not taxing affiliates who advertise with Amazon. That's a pretty crappy "nexus" for taxing, but in reality, it's likely that it won't raise a dime since the retailers who are non-California residents won't be doing affiliate advertising with Amazon anymore. I think Amazon might have handled it differently, but it was certainly a major and obvious option which they exercised. What this is more likely to do is to damage small businesses who depended on Amazon for most of their business without raising any appreciable revenue in California. Brown giveth, and Brown taketh away, all within a couple of days.

LawHawkRFD said...

Joel: You were apparently writing your comment while I was preparing mine. And I agree. Some mom and pop store that produces copper-bottom pans in South Carolina might have as much as 75% of its business on Amazon making a product that Amazon users search for. This legislation could kill small businesses all over America.

LawHawkRFD said...

Bev et al: McCotter's plans to enter the race are now confirmed by multiple sources. Go Thad! Even if he doesn't win, or it turns out there's something we don't know about him, he will certainly make the race more interesting and a lot funnier.

If my history serves me correctly, the only House Member to go directly to being elected President was James A. Garfield (and he had just become Senator-elect from Ohio when the states legislatures still elected their Senators). Many other Presidents served in the House, but were elected to the Senate, the governorship of their home state, or Vice President in-between.

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