Dane Co. DA requests special prosecutor in Supreme Court fight - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Dane Co. DA requests special prosecutor in Supreme Court fight

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MADISON (WKOW) -- The Dane County District Attorney announced Monday he's received the Dane County Sheriff's investigation into the July 13, 2011 incident at the Capitol involving two state Supreme Court justices.

Dane County D.A. Ismael Ozanne says he'll be requesting Dane County's Chief Judge to appoint a special prosecutor to review the case, due to "his office's prominent role in the litigations connected to this incident."

Newly re-elected Supreme Court Justice David Prosser is under investigation after fellow justice Ann Walsh Bradley stated Prosser placed her in a choke-hold.   Sources connected to Prosser have said he acted in self-defense.   Four other justices were apparently witnesses to the confrontation.

The physical encounter took place as justices discussed the controversial collective bargaining bill in private offices.    Ozanne had argued before the court the bill should be struck down,  but a court majority including Prosser upheld it.

Former Wisconsin district attorneys association president Dick Dufour says the case will be challenging for a special prosecutor.

"It's going to be a case that's probably going to be difficult for just about anybody in the state to handle because of the people involved,"   said Dufour,  Marquette County's district attorney.

Prosser and Walsh Bradley have both won elections for their seats on the court and their campaign committees have received thousands in donations.   But Dufour says a district attorney's donation to support either one of the justices should not be enough alone to effectively disqualify a D.A. from taking on the case.

"(Not)  Just a campaign contribution,   I would ask to look at the amount,  how significant that contribution was."

If Foust is not able to find a district attorney to accept the case,  he could turn to the state justice department.   But like Ozanne,  justice department attorneys argued before the high court on the collective bargaining bill.

As a last resort,  Foust could appoint a private attorney to serve in the capacity of special prosecutor.   A private attorney would require state payment to take the case,  while the retention of a district attorney or assistant attorney general would involve no additional public expense.

The special prosecutor would examine the investigation to determine if a crime was a committed,  and if so,  who should face a charge or charges.   A special prosecutor could also determine a civil infraction happened,  as opposed to a more serious criminal act.   The prosecutor could also drop the case entirely,  if evidence was deemed insufficient to prove any wrongdoing.

 

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