When pro se goes bad, Part II

Remember that defendant I wrote about on Wednesday who was representing himself in his incest trial? Well, on Thursday he threatened to call the FBI on Milwaukee County Circuit Judge David Borowski.

The defendant, who is facing 42 counts of incest, sexual assault and kidnapping, was mad because the judge definitively said the defendant would not continue to represent himself in trial.

Now, Borowski made this ruling on Wednesday afternoon, following a perceived threat the defendant made to his daughter during testimony. But the attorneys revisited the issue Thursday morning as they argued on how to proceed with the trial yet not take away the right for the defendant to represent himself.

Scott Anderson, an attorney appointed to essentially wait in the wings for something to happen, argued that despite the perceived threat and the times the defendant talked out of turn, the defendant had not yet reached a point where he was acting so outlandishly that he could not continue.

(parts of the report have been redacted to protect minors)

But then the defendant spoke. And that’s when I realized how different a case is when in the hands of a lawyer.

Assistant District Attorney Sara Lewis and Anderson used case law to back up their arguments. The defendant, instead, merely pointed to the U.S. Constitution, and proceeded to accuse Borowski of taking away his Constitutional rights.

“The 14th Amendment stated that no state has the authority or right to change the Constitution of the United States, and when that’s been done that means that you’re actually changing the Constitution of the U.S., not just the Wisconsin Constitution …” the defendant told Borowski.

From there, it all went downhill.

The defendant proceeded to start yelling at the judge, admonishing him for taking away his right to represent himself. As his voice started to rise, the bailiffs took out the shackles and started to restrain him, while Anderson tried to calm him down. He was then escorted out.

“He’s belligerent, he’s demeaning to the court, to witnesses,” Borowski said after the defendant was taken away. “There’s an inherent fact that it’s unseemly, somewhat sickening to have a father cross-examining his own daughter or daughters – who he has allegedly raped and assaulted on multiple occasions – but there has been clearly intentional obstructionist conduct.”

The trial will continue Friday morning, and is expected to finish some time next week. Borowski was going to start the trial again Thursday afternoon, but he ended up heeding pleas from Anderson – who said he’s “got to pick through a God-dang corpse” – to give him more time.

“But I’m the one standing in front of the jury — who has seen me with my hand on the side of his neck trying to calm him down or get him off my back — and I’m going to argue to this jury that this man is innocent?” Anderson said.

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