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Wisconsin justices' fight leads to probe

A fight between Wisconsin's divided Supreme Court justices led Monday to a criminal investigation and calls from the governor and others to resolve long-standing differences and restore public confidence in the institution.

Liberal Justice Ann Walsh Bradley has accused conservative Justice David Prosser of trying to choke her during an argument in her State Capitol office on June 13, the day before the court handed down a decision upholding a new law that eliminates most public employees' collective bargaining rights.

Dane County Sheriff David Mahoney said his office opened an investigation into the incident at the request of the Capitol Police.

The state judicial commission, which oversees judicial conduct, also announced it had opened an investigation.

Republican Gov. Scott Walker and others expressed concern that infighting had hurt the court's reputation. Walker told a radio station that the justices must come to grips with their differences.

Wisconsin justices are officially nonpartisan, but Bradley is generally seen as a member of the court's three-justice liberal faction. Prosser, a former Republican legislator, is considered part of the four-justice conservative majority.

Strife between the court's liberal and conservative factions has been intensifying since 2007, when special-interest groups started pouring millions into judicial elections.

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