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.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 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."
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.