MILWAUKEE (WSAU) Justice Pat Roggensack says any talk of incivility on the State Supreme Court is quote, “gossip at its worst.” And if were true that justices are constantly yelling at each other, she said she never would have sought another 10-year term. Roggensack gave her most impassioned defense of the state’s highest court at a candidate forum in Milwaukee yesterday, put on by the Milwaukee Bar Association.
Her opponents in the February 19th primary – Ed Fallone and Vince Megna – questioned Roggensack’s presence on what they called a dysfunctional court in the wake of Justice David Prosser’s reported choke-hold on fellow Justice Ann Walsh Bradley in 2011. Fallone, a Marquette law professor, said he’s seen the justices personally sniping in their legal opinions and quote, “This dysfunction has had an effect on the quality of their work.” Both challengers also criticized Roggensack for withdrawing from a possible ruling on an ethics violation against Prosser. But Roggensack said she had no choice, saying she was a direct witness to the incident. The court’s other conservative justices also withdrew, and not enough justices are left to rule.
Fallone said there are other procedures in which the court could sit in judgment of Prosser. He also said justices should explain why they withdraw from cases – but both Roggensack and Megna disagreed. Megna, a liberal Milwaukee attorney, criticized the court’s conservative majority. He said it’s quote, “inappropriate and causing significant problems in the state.” Yesterday’s forum was the only one scheduled before the primary.