July 31, 2007

What the divorce court transcripts tell us about the state legislator who's trying to cut funding for UW Law School.

Rep. Frank Lasee has argued that we have too many lawyers, but why is he so antagonistic toward lawyers? The Wisconsin State Journal thinks it's found a clue in the court transcripts for his 2003 divorce:
Lasee first acted as his own lawyer, then hired a lawyer whom he fired in court the day the judge was about to render her decision.

The judge noted court officials witnessed Lasee punching his lawyer while in court.

"I didn't punch him, " Lasee said last week. "I poked him in the arm to get his attention. "

Lasee twice asked for a new judge in the case, including on the day the second judge began issuing her decision.

Brown County Circuit Judge Sue Bischel sounded exasperated when she addressed Lasee on June 27, 2003:

"Mr. Lasee, if you laugh at me one more time, I am really going to get ornery. I have tried very hard to treat you with respect. I see you smirking. I see you grinning. I can hear it. I am so disappointed. ... I have found over the years that it is getting increasingly difficult to get people to respect the court system and the judicial system.

"And I think you have probably learned in the Legislature some similar things. Politicians are getting a bad rap and a bad name these days. And frankly, I think it is often undeserved. But behavior like that disappoints me more than I can tell you. I don 't like it. I am disappointed. I am sad. I am sometimes angry when I get it from people who are uneducated, who have been treated badly by the system. And I am, I am on the verge of tears about it when it comes from someone in your position. ' '

Lasee acknowledged he had been smirking and said it was because the judge supported his wife 's attorney when that attorney made an unsuccessful run for judge. He said the judge was prejudiced. Bischel countered that Lasee didn 't raise the issue until she had begun explaining her decision.

Later in the hearing, Lasee fired his attorney, then asked to make "a brief statement. " Bischel allowed this, although she said it challenged her authority to control the timing of the trial.

Lasee told her, "You lied from bench. "

After he repeatedly interrupted the judge, she warned Lasee he would be held in contempt of court.

"I do not recognize the legitimacy of this court because you are not ... unbiased. I have proof to that effect, " Lasee said, then walked out of the courtroom.

Judge Bischel: "Call the court officer. Mr. Lasee, you are in contempt. Reluctantly, I am reluctantly finding this gentleman in contempt. I have tolerated more from him today than I probably have from anyone else who has come into the court. His behavior was way over the top. "

Later, she noted Lasee answered and made cell-phone calls while his wife was on the witness stand, and left to use the phone and rest room during proceedings, adding, "I have never had that happen in 11 years."
This is, of course, very bad behavior, but it doesn't tell us where his antagonism had its start. He chose to go it alone, without a lawyer, at first. Why did he think that was a good idea? I think it's safe to say he's got poor judgment. But we already knew that from the fact that he thought the problem of too many lawyers -- assuming that's a problem -- is curable by cutting funding to the Law School.

The Law School will continue, relying more heavily on tuition. It will only impose greater debt burdens on the young people who work hard to establish professional careers and affect who feels free to choose to pursue this professional career and what job choices they make. It really is quite sad that this man's crude thinking has influenced the legislature in our state which has long demonstrated its dedication to its public university system.

The notion that Wisconsin is turning out too many lawyers is absurd. There are only 2 law schools in the state. Minnesota -- with the same population -- has 4. Iowa -- with 60% of our population -- has 2.

18 comments:

John Kindley said...

"It will only impose greater debt burdens on the young people who work hard to establish professional careers and affect who feels free to choose to pursue this professional career and what job choices they make."

The legislature should have went straight to the source of the problem and repealed the protectionist laws prohibiting the "unauthorized practice of law."

Sarah said...

That is absolutely tragic. For a state legislator to tell any judge that he doesn't recognize the legitimacy of their court is absolutely unacceptable. What does that tell the rest of the state not only about how we should respond to our judicial system, but also about how we should feel about it as a safeguard to our liberties? Frank Lasee has always been a nutjob (see: allowing teachers to carry weapons in classrooms) but now he's put himself out there as just a total ahole as well. Thank God his wife divorced him.

Meade said...

At the risk of repeating myself: it isn't fewer lawyers we need; it's better lawyers.

vet66 said...

Treating Lasee as if he were an anomaly or anachronism misses the point entirely. He is a microcosm of like-minded anarchists who are challenging the legitimacy of our government.

It is not a stretch to liken Lasee to several of the trolls that populate this site who make a religion out of questioning any authority that disagrees with them.

The democrats are already beginning to distance themselves from the proposition that no cost is to great to endure in the pursuit of power.

I can imagine many the night when Lasee's wife woke up in a silent scream that characterized her marriage to this moonbat.

She is free of him, thank goodness!

MadisonMan said...

Does it surprise me that Lassee is a Republican Representative in the Wisconsin House? No. Would it surprise me if he were a Democrat? No.

It is fascinating to view his funding proposals in terms of his past history, however.

PC said...

I wonder if Mr. Lasee had a position on the recent renegotiation of Wisconsin and Minnesota's tuition reciprocity agreement... Sue Bischel is a grad of the University of Minnesota Law School.

Yachira said...

Sarah, what's wrong with allowing teachers to carry guns in classrooms?

John Kindley said...

"Treating Lasee as if he were an anomaly or anachronism misses the point entirely. He is a microcosm of like-minded anarchists who are challenging the legitimacy of our government."

Lasee doesn't strike me as an anarchist. But I'm glad to hear that I'm not an anomaly.

JP said...

There's no way people like Frank Lasee should be making policy for anyone. Obviously the man has no idea how to operate within a society.

So, between now and Nov. 2008, take a few minutes out of your time and keep this guy from getting a seat in Congress. Rumor has it he'll try to run, and it's already bad enough that he embarrasses Wisconsin in Wisconsin.

MadisonMan said...

JP: Runs for Congress are a nice way to remove those fools from the Wisconsin legislature.

Prime example: John Gard.

JP said...

Point taken MadisonMan. Imagine me sitting in my ivory tower hoping that the Peter Principle doesn't apply to politicians. There are plenty of jobs Lasee is plenty qualified for, although none of them involve him opening his mouth; Maybe he should pass a relative efficiency amendment and relegate himself back to the service station.

Revenant said...

The notion that Wisconsin is turning out too many lawyers is absurd. There are only 2 law schools in the state. Minnesota -- with the same population -- has 4. Iowa -- with 60% of our population -- has 2.

The number of law schools in Minnesota and Iowa is only relevant if you assume that "too many lawyers" means "too many compared to nearby states". I think it is pretty clear that he meant "too many, period".

Anyway, Lasee behaved foolishly -- but if it is true that the judge had been a political supporter of the wife's lawyer then it was also disgraceful that she didn't recuse herself from the case.

Eli Blake said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eli Blake said...

Madison Man:

Not to deny that there are some idiots who happen to be Democrats (because there are) but let's be honest here-- when someone is talking about giving budget cuts to a school, 95% of the time it's a Republican.

downtownlad said...

This is a complete waste of the government's money.

Supply and demand will figure this out. If you didn't have publicly funded law schools, private ones would pop up to take their place.

In fact, the University of Wisconsin is perfectly capable of being entirely funded via private means. This legislator is spot on.

rightwingprof said...

I'm curious. Why would a law school anywhere rely primarily on public funds? Business schools rely as much if not more on private endowments and contributions from MBA alumni, and a law degree, like an MBA, is a highly lucrative degree. Don't lawyers contribute big bucks to their alma maters?

Ann Althouse said...

"Why would a law school anywhere rely primarily on public funds?"

We don't. That's why it won't hurt us that much if they do it. I think most of the public money goes toward subsidizing tuition.

Wade Garrett said...

The primary goal of a state law school is to train lawyers to serve the citizens of the state. To achieve that goal, they favor in-state applicants over out-of-state applicants, although, at most first-tier state schools, doing so means admitting students with lesser LSAT scores and GPAs than they would if all students were treated equally.

If the University of Wisconsin law school is no longer receiving funding from the state of Wisconsin, it should no longer feel an obligation to favor students from the state of Wisconsin.

Do you know if the school is changing its admissions policy in this regard?