Wisconsin

Start messing with democracy and you'll find tyranny at your front door.

Earlier this week, I compared Wisconsin to a North African country. Now I think that comparison is unfair to North African countries.

The crisis in Wisconsin continues. Democratic state legislators are still on the lam from their jobs, denying the Wisconsin legislature the quorum necessary to conduct state business.

Some of our commenters think that fleeing the state to avoid a quorum call is just another procedural right given to the minority party, kind of like an ultimate filibuster. I think that’s a self-serving analysis. Quorum rules are there because reliable motorized transportation is a relatively modern innovation. Quorum rules are there because laws shouldn’t be passed by the first two guys to show up to work in the morning. Legislators don’t have a right to flee the state as a political maneuver to prevent democracy from occurring.

Of course, if Wisconsin Democrats don’t want to respect democracy, Wisconsin Republicans are more than happy to give them a big dose of tyranny. That’s just how Republicans roll…

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Is Wisconsin experiencing the worst Super Bowl hangover ever?

Is there a huge difference between living in a North African country and living in the state of Wisconsin right now? Can somebody please send in Richard Engel to conduct an interview with a bearded lumberjack making a barricade out of cheese?

In case you haven’t been following along (and I understand that it’s not as exciting as the next Charlie Sheen interview), Wisconsin no longer has a functioning government. I’m not exaggerating. The Republican Governor, Scott Walker, and the Republican legislature basically want to take away the right of unions to collectively bargain.

In response, Democrats have fled the state. Again, I’m not exaggerating here. Instead of allowing democracy, however disagreeable the outcome, to play out, 14 Democratic legislators have simply decided not to play. They’ve fled, preventing the legislature from getting together a quorum to vote on Walker’s budget.

And man, are there protests. It’s getting to the point where if Wisconsin had a functioning government, it would probably declare martial law….

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David J. Stern

* A Florida lawyer says he’s a psychic who can commune with the dead. Maybe he’ll be having a chat with his legal career soon. [WFTV Orlando]

* How can crazy cabbies avoid lawsuits from crazier passengers in New York? “Cabs shouldn’t pick up women.” Duh. [New York Daily News]

* Obamacare might be dead to Virginia and Wisconsin, but it’s still alive and kicking in their state budgets. [Bloomberg]

* Lawyers say that the drug Requip turned a man with Parkinson’s into a gay sex addict. [Healthland / Time]

* What do you get when you bet on the foreclosure boom caused by your own company’s alleged fraud? Fifty-cent stock shares. Have fun with that, David J. Stern. [New York Times]

* Scheiße! A German porn company was forced to drop a lawsuit against creepers who downloaded “The Good Uncle.” Ugh, I don’t even want to know what kind of porn that is. [Digital Media Wire]

* A personal injury firm is trying to stop people from slipping and falling. They may want to reevaluate their marketing campaign. [Proof and Hearsay / Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel]

Padma Lakshmi

* Breast implants linked to cancer, looking awesome. [Associated Press]

* A Russian man is accused of posing as an immigration lawyer and stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from fellow countrymen. Police say they knew he was lying when he began doing bizarre, and ridiculously obvious, things with Oreos. [Sun-Sentinel]

* You know how I know President Obama’s latest nominee to the S.D.N.Y, J. Paul Oetken, is gay? Because this article says so. Bonus: Lat quotes! [Poliglot / Metro Weekly]

* “Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi is treating her baby’s dad like a bottom feeder.” [New York Post]

* Allen “The Ponz” Stanford was found incompetent to stand trial. Aaaaaayyyyyy *thumbs* [Reuters]

* Before the rampage, Jared Lee Loughner performed internet searches on famous assassins, the death penalty, solitary confinement, and law firm bonuses. I think that’s right. [New York Times]

* A Wisconsin attorney was sentenced to four years in prison on his 40th birthday, which reminds me of one of my favorite Onion articles. [Minneapolis Star Tribune]

* Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler, who wants to moonlight as an attorney, isn’t saying state salaries are too low. He’s just saying. [Bloomberg]

Court approved sippy-cup for lawyers appearing before Judge Gene Gasiorkiewicz.

If you’re a fan of state officials wasting valuable time, resources, and mental energy over issues of decorum and etiquette, you’re going to love Wisconsin Judge Gene Gasiorkiewicz. The Journal Times (gavel bang: ABA Journal) reports that this new Racine County Circuit Court judge has hit the bench with all sorts of decorum rules for lawyers appearing in his courtroom.

Many of the new rules are of the dress-code nature that we’ve come to expect from judges more concerned with style than substance. Judge Gasiorkiewicz requires Reagan-esque “coat and tie” attire in his courtroom. And, of course, ladies must have a mastectomy show absolutely no cleavage. We can’t have judges being distracted by barrel-chested men wearing mock turtlenecks or women with plunging necklines.

But while everybody is aware that judges have the attention span of goldfish and can be easily distracted by attorney attire, nobody expected Judge Gasiorkiewicz to take his Orwellian need for conformity all the way down to the level of beverage holders. But that’s because nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition. Lawyers appearing before Judge Gasiorkiewicz now must use court-issued mugs.

And Wisconsin lawyers don’t seem to be pitching a fit over it. Either these attorneys are as docile as dairy cows, or they’ve decided to “let the baby have his bottle”….

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Feast your eyes on 'The Prize.'

Thanks to the internet, your memory is probably getting worse. But surely you remember our recent Lawyer of the Day honoree, District Attorney Kenneth Kratz of Calumet County, Wisconsin.

A domestic violence victim who turned to Kratz’s office for help claims that the DA sexually harassed her via numerous text messages, trying to convince her to have an affair with him. One of his texts read, in pertinent part, “I’m the atty. I have the $350,000 house. I have the 6-figure career. You may be the tall, young, hot nymph, but I am the prize!”

(Someone should put that on a t-shirt: “You may be hot, but I am the prize!”)

Alas, the recipient of Kratz’s “I am the prize” text may not be the only woman he harassed. Two other women have come forward with allegations against the district attorney — and one of them claims Kratz has some weird ideas about what constitutes a fun date….

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Does He See Dead People — On a Date?”

Everyone thinks of Midwesterners as so wholesome. Perhaps this perception is unfounded.

For example, why are Wisconsin lawyers so darn horny? First there were the Biglaw Bad Boys, accused of sexual assault. Now we’re hearing about a government lawyer — an elected district attorney, in fact — who apparently let his libido get the best of him.

Here’s the story: Calumet County District Attorney Kenneth Kratz sent a flurry of text messages to a woman, 30 texts over three days, in an effort to start up an affair with her. The woman, who described Kratz’s harassing texts as putting her through “three days of hell,” was a victim of domestic abuse. Kratz met the woman in course of prosecuting her ex-boyfriend for the violence against her.

OMG. Legal ethics FAIL.

And some of Kratz’s texts are simply 2M2H. Read on, and prepare for the LULZ….

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Back in February 2009, we named the Honorable Joseph Wall a Judge of the Day. Joe Wall, at the time a Wisconsin trial court judge, used the term “baby mama” at the sentencing of an African-American defendant. He also made additional amusing quips — e.g., suggesting that “baby mamas” congregate at “a club” to find their unemployed, wastrel boyfriends.

An appeals court, finding Judge Wall’s comments to be inappropriate, held that the defendant was entitled to a new trial. But now the Wisconsin Supreme Court has reversed the appeals court, in a unanimous decision — a rarity on that utterly dysfunctional famously fractured court.

So, what did the Wisconsin court conclude?

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The Wisconsin State Supreme Court

There’s a simple rule in Wisconsin regarding judicial elections. You can’t make a campaign ad that knowingly misrepresents your opponent. While you’d imagine that reasonable people might disagree about what constitutes misrepresentation, one expects that judges wouldn’t really get anywhere close to the line.

But not so in the election between Justice Michael Gableman and Louis Butler. Gabelman made a controversial ad and won the election, and then all hell broke loose. People argued he violated judicial codes of conduct, it went to the State Supreme Court, Gabelman had to recuse himself, and then the court split 3 -3 and issued two different decisions. So, you know, all the trappings of anarchy.

Of course race is involved. Because people don’t generally lose their minds and start acting like idiots in this country unless race is involved somehow…

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Put those condoms and bananas away, teachers. Wisconsin district attorney Scott Southworth says that sex ed showing minors how to use contraception is “sexual assault ed,” and that teachers who participate are subject to criminal liability.

State legislators want schools to teach the virile young children of the Cheese State how to safely churn the butter. From AOL News:

The state law, called the Healthy Youth Act, took effect in March. Starting this fall, it requires schools with sex-education courses to teach students medically accurate, age-appropriate information, including how to use birth control and prevent sexually transmitted diseases. It also requires the classes to include information about how to recognize signs of abuse and how alcohol can affect decision making.

Southworth sees this mandate as “troubling.” In a letter to five school districts, he said the law “promotes the sexualization — and sexual assault — of our children.”

Because if a kid discovers how to use a condom — Gasp! — he or she might just actually use it. According to Southworth, should that happen, sex ed teachers could face up to six year prison terms for enabling deviant sexual behavior…

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