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Wisconsin Wit

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Judge Tom Alisankus Speaks on Justice Prosser:

April 3, 2011

To the citizens of Evansville and Union Township:

I have had a number of people ask me my ‘official’ thoughts about Tuesday’s Supreme Court election. As your Municipal Court Judge for the past 19 years, I’ve never thought it necessary to publicly share my thoughts on a Supreme Court race before. For obvious reasons, this time it’s different; since so many have asked, I’ve decided to share these thoughts with all of you.

In short, Justice Prosser’s judicial temperament—or lack thereof—concerns me. What concerns me more, though, is attempts to justify what he did. I’m speaking of his acknowledgement in last week’s Journal Sentinel that he called the Chief Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court a “total bitch”, and that he “would destroy her”. Frankly, that’s not what I expect of a Justice; I don’t need to dwell on why.

But what Justice Prosser said when asked to explain the circumstances was even worse: He stated that the Chief Justice “goaded” him into saying that. I’m sorry; I’ve spent the last 19 years telling defendants—mostly juveniles—that verbal provocation NEVER justifies inappropriate responses. I expect more and better from a sitting Justice on the Supreme Court.

This is not the first, or only time Justice Prosser has demonstrated a complete lack of judicial temperament. This is the first time I’m aware of that he’s tried to defend—if not rationalize it.

I am also very disappointed and concerned that a sitting justice would run a re-election advertisement stating, as Justice Prosser did, that he would be a “compliment” to the newly elected governor and legislature, and that he “shared” their conservative philosophies. Judicial races are supposed to be non-partisan; Justices are supposed to be independent. Justice Prosser tried to blame a ‘new campaign manager’ for running that ad without the Justice’s permission. That is such a weak response for someone as experienced as he is in elections, I needn’t explain why.

In summary, Justice Prosser has demonstrated a complete lack of judicial temperament, respect, and independence. These are essential qualities, necessary for someone who has the capacity and authority to make life-altering decisions, as well as someone who helps supervise the entire judiciary of the State. In good conscience, I cannot support his re-election.

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