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.

Sincerely,

 

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