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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Wisconsin Supreme Court Is "Dysfunctional" - This Does Not Bode Well

I don't know any of the personalities on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, so I am not going to speculate on how what follows will affect consideration of the budget repair bill.

It appears that the Wisconsin Justices are at war with each other based upon the tendency -- allegedly -- of one of the Justices to incite others on the court by leaking e-mails and involving outsiders in intra-court disputes. 

As reported by The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
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.

The incident, revealed in interviews as well as e-mails between justices, shows fractures on the court run even deeper than what has been revealed in public sniping in recent years. Problems got so bad that justices on both sides described the court as dysfunctional, and Prosser and others suggested bringing in a third party for help, e-mails show.

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."
Why does this not bode well?

JoAnne Kloppenberg, who is a favorite of the Wisconsin unions and has openly criticized Gov. Scott Walker, is running in an election on April 5 against Prosser, and is using the dispute as part of her campaign.

Yesterday, Wisconsin Republicans announced that they would stick to the court process to deal with the TRO issued by a Madison Circuit Court judge, rather than re-vote.

I hope they know something I don't.

Update:  Perhaps they just are highly confident on the legal merits, as this explanation by Marquette Law Prof. Rick Esenberg explains (h/t again to reader Dad29):
Having taken a closer look at the text of Judge Sumi's decision in Ozanne v. Fitzgerald, I am quite frankly astonished. The court seems to have managed to enjoin publication of the statutory changes in the budget repair bill without addressing any of the difficult issues that the case presents.
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  1. Have no idea concerning anyone else, but I'm Wisconsined Out.

    Deed the place to Canada. As mentioned elsewhere, that leaves us with 55 or 56 other states.

    Just ask Obama..

    Gosh, I forgot HE bounced Arizona. That leaves us with 54 or 55 states.

  2. I hope they know something I don't.
    This doesn't look encouraging does it?   The left really knows how to play a crowd.   And the Courts.

  3. Let me help you with Ms. Abrahamson:


    The woman is a manipulative political animal who advances only the Left's ideology. Prosser's name for her is an understatement.

  4. I too am concerned, but:

    1. Isn't it early to release this kind of thing? Maybe things weren't looking favorable for Kloppenberg.

    2. Obviously the debates will be important. I gather that the first is coming up tomorrow. Maybe the leak was intended to tilt the playing field at the debate.

    3. Hopefully the national Right has the sense to offer resources and counsel if requested, but this is the Wisconsin's battle to fight, win or lose. Maybe they're counting on WI voters to see the contrast with the Democrats' tactics.

  5. JP said... "Gosh, I forgot HE bounced Arizona. That leaves us with 54 or 55 states."

    Frankly I'd rather be in Arizona.

  6. JP said... "Gosh, I forgot HE bounced Arizona. That leaves us with 54 or 55 states."

    Sure, and give CA and TX back to Mexico, AK back to the Russians, HI back to....????

    That is why it is so hard to be a conservative. While the left kicks up their efforts when things look hopeless, too many of us give up at the first sign of difficulty. We need to drop "give up" and "compromise" out of our vocabulary.

  7. Prosser?

    Any relation to William Prosser of tort fame?

  8. Another look at the TRO decision by the Madistan circuit judge (from another LawProf):


  9. "Justice David Prosser exploded at Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson behind closed doors, calling her a "bitch" and threatening to "destroy" her."

    The only thing I know about Abrahamson is from a very well-written contracts case she authored... well, and I've heard elsewhere that she's a bit of a radical.

  10. The Wisconsin Supreme Court has been a mess for a few years, since the channeling of exorbitant amounts for campaigns to elect Justices Ziegler and Gableman -- both of whom immediately faced serious ethics charges (Ziegler for a flagrant conflict of interest, Gableman for a flagrant campaign commercial).

    Justice Prosser's famed temper only worsened matters for a court that, despite him (and some famously odd decisions used in law schools to puzzle students), was for decades managed very civilly under Abrahamson. And she hardly is radical; you really ought to research her more than 40 years on the court as well as her decades of work before than as a law prof and highly respected legal scholar. In a state that is as closely "red" and "blue" as any in the country, a radical hardly would have been re-elected repeatedly over those decades.

    The answer in Wisconsin, with this influx of funding and with U.S. Supreme Court decisions related to that, sadly may be to stop electing justices and judges and just let those revert to patronage positions. But the state media would fight that, claiming principle and tradition but really because they clean up on all of the dirty money that rolls in for ads.

  11. "Serious" ethics charges?

    Only to those who 'strain at a gnat.'

    Somehow, those "serious" charges didn't result in either Justice being disciplined by the Court.

    Another way to put it: the 'charges' were 'serious' only in the eyes of those partisan piddlefiddles who BROUGHT the 'charges,' with the objective of voiding election results unpalatable to the Left.

    And if you call Abrahamson's work "respectable," then you ignore Diane Sykes' take on her despicably biased and blatantly foolish "rulings."


    Frankly, Wisconsin voters have had enough of Abrahamson's Diktat of Positive Law-Made-by-Shirley.