Civility a factor in Wis. Supreme Court election
MILWAUKEE (AP) — A 2011 altercation between two state Supreme Court justices drew renewed attention Thursday as a third justice and her two election challengers sparred over whether the current court is too dysfunctional to be effective.
Justice Pat Roggensack, law professor Ed Fallone and consumer lawyer Vince Megna appeared in Milwaukee together at an hourlong candidate forum sponsored by the Milwaukee Bar Association. The slate of three candidates will be whittled down to two in a Feb. 19 primary. The general election is April 2.
Fallone and Megna said Wisconsin used to have a proud tradition of judicial excellence, but that the incident last year shows just how far conditions have deteriorated.
“We’ve all seen the incivility, the personal sniping in the opinions, the inability of the justices to get along,” Fallone said. “And this dysfunction has had an effect on the quality of their work.”
Roggensack, who is seeking her second term, said any characterization of incivility on the court was “gossip at its worst.”
“If we were really after each other constantly, screaming and yelling at each other, do you really think I’d be seeking another 10-year term on this court? Come on,” she said. “There are a lot of other things I could do.”
Fallone was referring to a 2011 incident in which Justice David Prosser placed his hands around the neck of fellow Justice Ann Walsh Bradley. Prosser claims he did so as an act of self-defense, but he now faces charges that he violated the judicial ethics code.