A couple of weeks ago the campaign manager for the reelection campaign of Wisconsin State Supreme Court Justice David Prosser announced Prosser would “[protect] the conservative judicial majority and [act] as a common sense compliment to both the new administration and legislature,” and as first reported last week by Mike McCabe on the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign’s Big Money Blog, Justice Prosser has allegedly made “promises” (or threats, depending on your perspective) to veer far to the right both during and after the election if attacked by the “left” during the campaign. In support of McCabe’s assertion, he cites an email he received from a “prominent outstate attorney” on the condition of anonymity:
I am writing to you anonymously to inform you of comments that were made by Justice Prosser in his stump speech to Wisconsin Association for Justice at its board meeting on December 2, 2010. In his comments, Justice Prosser indicated that he wished the trial lawyers to know that if the race led to him being attacked from the “left,” that he would move to the right and the trial lawyers would suffer for it. He stated that it would be in the best interest of the trial lawyers if he stayed in the middle. In fact, he said “don’t force me to run a campaign that is not down the middle and honorable.” When asked to explain that, he indicated that if the left demonizes him, it will push him to the right. He said he would do whatever was necessary and would side with those who were supporting him so he would not be retired as a Justice.
It was evident to those in the room that he was issuing a threat that if he was not supported by the trial lawyers, then they could expect that the decisions he renders will be against the interests that the trial lawyers espouse on behalf of injured consumers. It appears clear by his comments that he would prejudge any issue that came against him from someone who did not support him in the campaign.
It should be noted that Justice Prosser’s comments to the Wisconsin Association for Justice had been made privately to other individuals who reported that he was contacting them for support. In his contact, he would indicate that if he was not supported by those on what he considers the “left,” he would move to the right in his decision making if he were to be re-elected. He further indicated that he wished he didn’t have to do that but would do so if necessary so that he would be re-elected. These comments are not in keeping with the judicial code of ethics. These are clearly questionable campaign tactics for someone who seeks to sit on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
Justice may be blind, but I think it’s abundantly clear to most folks that Justice David Prosser isn’t.