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No charges filed in Supreme Court quarrel

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State Supreme Court Justice David Prosser said he always knew he'd be cleared of allegations that he choked fellow Justice Ann Walsh Bradley in June.

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Special prosecutor Patricia Barrett said Thursday that the facts of the case do not support the filing of criminal charges. Barrett said she reviewed 70 pages of investigative reports, photos and an interview with Prosser by Dane County sheriff's deputies.

In her response to Barrett's decision, Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson suggested that more of the Supreme Court's conferences should be open to the public as a way to restore civility among the court's seven members.

Bradley had contended that Prosser put her in a chokehold in her office June 13, the night before the Supreme Court released its contentious decision that upheld the state's virtual end to public union bargaining.

Reports said Prosser only held up his hands to push Bradley back after she raised her fists at him.

After Barrett's decision came out yesterday, Prosser said he knew he'd be cleared once the facts were reviewed and he looked forward to the details being made public.

Bradley claimed she never sought prosecution against Prosser, and she was just trying to raise an issue over what she called "workplace safety." Bradley said she tried to have law enforcement address the issue. After Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs met with all the justices following the altercation, Bradley said her efforts to address safety were "rebuffed."

Prosecutor Barrett said other justices who saw the incident gave conflicting accounts of what happened, and there was not enough evidence to support criminal charges.

There has been friction between the Supreme Court's four conservative justices and three liberal justices for some time.

Abrahamson - who commented on the altercation for the first time yesterday - said the court must be a place where disputes are resolved, not created. She said each justice owes the others civility and personal control, and the same is true in the court's dealings with people.

Abrahamson said more public conferences would achieve that end, but her statement did not indicate whether actual deliberations of cases would be made public.

Former Justice Janine Geske, who's now a law professor at Marquette, said the process of deciding cases is complicated and often takes months. She said it would be hard for people to follow, and justices often switch sides as they research various issues.

The State Supreme Court already opens its meetings on court rules and finances to the public. Geske said no court in the nation opens its deliberations to the public.

Meanwhile, this may not be the end of the matter. The investigative reports were also sent to the state's Judicial Commission, which is doing its own probe.

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