July 27, 2016
Patience Drake Roggensack
State Capitol, Room 16 East
PO Box 1688
Madison, WI 53701-1688
Dear Chief Justice Roggensack,
We are deeply concerned with your decision to name the Wisconsin State Law Library after Justice David Prosser.
Justice Prosser has had a few high publicity incidents in his career that have shed a negative light on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
In 2011 emails were discovered showing Justice Prosser used an expletive to describe Justice Abrahamson. Additionally, he threatened to "destroy" her while the justices debated whether to remove Justice Gableman from a criminal case.
Foremost, Justice Prosser allegedly choked Justice Ann Walsh Bradley during an argument over an opinion. His actions resulted in the state Judicial Commission recommending that the justices find him guilty of ethics violations. He only escaped those violations because Justice Ann Walsh Bradley and four other justices recused themselves, leaving the court without a quorum.
During the investigation Justice Crooks told investigators the problems of Prosser’s blow-ups (he “explodes and storms out of a room” three or four times a year) went back more than a decade.
Libraries are places where people learn and they ensure that everyone has access to information. They enrich lives and communities. Law libraries serve a special purpose. According to the Wisconsin Court System the library's mission is to “serve the legal information needs of the officers and employees of the state, and of attorneys and the public. It provides the highest quality of professional expertise in the selection, maintenance and use of materials, information and technology in order to facilitate equal access to the law.” It is place where laws are learned and respected. It should not be named after an ill-tempered justice whose career in the legislature helped bring about the culture of hyper partisanship that currently resides in our chambers and whose name is most widely associated with choking a colleague.
We urge you to reconsider your decision. Wisconsin’s Supreme Court’s reputation has been sullied by his actions and he does not deserve such an honor.
Sen. Janis Ringhand Rep. Peter Barca Rep. Chris Taylor
15th Senate District 64th Assembly District 76th Assembly District
Sen. Chris Larson Rep. Mark Spreitzer Rep. Lisa Subeck
7th Senate District 45th Assembly District 78th Assembly District
Sen. Jon Erpenbach Rep. Melissa Sargent Rep. Dave Considine
27th Senate District 48th Senate District 81st Assembly District
Sen. Nikiya Harris Dodd Rep. Christine Sinicki Rep. Sondy Pope
6th Senate District 20th Assembly District 80th Assembly District
Rep. Jill Billings Rep. Dianne Hesselbein Rep. Tod Ohnstad
95th Assembly District 79th Assembly District 65th Assembly District
Rep. Terese Berceau
77th Assembly District