ON-Lion Letter
In an exclusive interview with editor Charles J. Sykes in the November Wisconsin Interest magazine, Justice David Prosser talks frankly of the "somewhat surreal" world of the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Last April, Prosser was re-elected to a 10-year term on the court after a campaign in which he found himself at the center of Wisconsin's tumultuous political divide.  His victory, after a lengthy and expensive recount, however, has not quelled the increasingly heated and personal controversies on the court.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson "has been a divisive force on the court for many years," according to Prosser.  "But she became more arbitrary when she gained a working majority on the court during the 2004-'05 term.

"There are ways that justices can vigorously disagree with each other without becoming personal and petty in the way they discuss judicial matters or the way they write opinions," he told Sykes.  "On almost all occasions, opinions can be written without questioning the intelligence or integrity of colleagues on the court.  It is very rare that an issue is so critical that it justifies a public attack on a colleague’s integrity.  Attacks of this nature damage the reputation of the whole court.

"Today there are people who believe the problems of the court should be addressed primarily by changing procedures or rules," Prosser also said.  "Some changes would be useful.  But it is hard to achieve a smooth operation when some members of the court have no respect for their colleagues and are prepared to do almost anything to prevail over them and discredit them.  This is not an atmosphere in which it is easy to work together."

Sykes is host of "Midday with Charlie Sykes" on WTMJ radio in Milwaukee.  Wisconsin Interest is published by the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, which is substantially supported by The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee.
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