Attorney found in contempt threw up his hands, rolled his eyes, treated judge like idiot, judge says
By Gretchen Schuldt
A lawyer threw up his hands, rolled his eyes and, according to Milwaukee County Circuit Judge David Borowski, treated the judge "like some kind of idiot" before Borowski found him in contempt of court, according to a transcript of the hearing.
"Judge, this is – judge, I wasn't able to finish any one complete sentence," Assistant State Public Defender Puck Tsai said moments before being handcuffed and led away. "That's fine with Your Honor. You know I want to highlight for the court this is a person standing here in front of the court an innocent person."
"No kidding," Borowski responded. "I get that. Sit down. Counsel, if you don't knock – – deputy, take him into custody for contempt."
The judge continued: "Rolling your eyes, throwing your hands in the air, acting like I'm some kind of idiot gets you locked up for contempt. We'll discuss purge later. In the meantime he sits in custody."
Tsai was in court for a bail hearing Friday for Marcus Wilborn, who was charged with vehicular homicide. Wilborn had been released on a signature bond, but was in court because the urine he gave for a drug test was diluted. Dilution may suggest tampering but is not proof of it.
Borowski was clearly unhappy that Wilborn was out on a signature bond in the first place.
"He's out on in what I think is shocking on a PR bond...." the judge said at one point.
When the District Attorney's office asked for a $2,500 cash bond, Tsai argued that there were many reasons urine may be diluted. He also said his client was willing to be retested.
A pretrial worker testified that she did not know why the urine was diluted.
"If anything the state's request is low," Borowski said. "The bail is $2,500. He goes into custody. This is a homicide. I'm not playing games in this case. He violated the terms of his monitoring, 2,500 cash."
Tsai tried to talk about the case but Borowski cut him off. "Right, looking at the allegations where he allegedly had THC and alcohol in his system. Now he's out on what I consider to be and, I'll say this on the record, a preposterous PR bond, which, by the way, is vacated and waived, so now the county can try to collect their PR bond."
Tsai tried again. "Judge, again, if I may be heard on that. I wasn't – I want to let the court know that the criminal complaint failed to mention the reason why the collision happened was because that the deceased person was running a stop sign. ..."
Borowski: "Hang on, counsel. What the defenses are or are not has nothing to do with bail. The allegations are your client was going 65 to 75 miles an hour in a 30 mile-an-hour zone, he had THC in his system, he had a BAC that's over the legal limit. His bail is $2,500, which, again, I'm being exceedingly generous. Let's all stop talking."
The court clerk gave the next court date.
"Rolling your eyes, throwing your hands in the air, acting like I'm some kind if idiot gets you locked up for contempt." – Milwaukee County Circuit Judge David Borowski
Borowski: "Fine. We're done. Counsel, sit down. Deputy have the defendant sit down again. Counsel, is there something you want to say or do you want to go into custody?"
It was then Tsai talked about not finishing a sentence and found himself in custody moments later.
After Assistant District Attorney Michael J. Lonski notified the State Public Defender's Office that Tsai was being held, Tsai was brought back to court, in chains as is customary for criminal defendants. He was represented now by SPD attorney Paige Styler.
Borowski told Tsai, "Here's what I perceived – an awful lot of attitude. When you got up you were mumbling under your breath about not liking my decision, then when you sat down you – what I perceived as you basically tossing yourself back in your chair like 'oh my God, what the hell is the judge doing increasing Mr. Wilborn's bail.'"
Borowski, in first holding Tsai in contempt, did not mention either muttering or the manner in which Tsai resumed his seat.
Styler asked Borowski to, in the future, contact the SPD office if he "perceives any disrespect."
"We just ask in the future that no one in our office ever have to go through something like this," she said.
"That's fair," Borowski said.
Tsai apologized "for anything that I've done whether spoken or unspoken that may have offended the Court."
There was another recess while Wilborn was drug-tested again.
Borowski: "Well, what I can hopefully chalk up to a bad morning, a mulligan, not a very good morning for defense counsel, was not my best morning, certainly was not the defendant's best morning."
The pre-trial services worker reported that Wilborn's drug test was negative.
Borowski: "Great. I'm vacating my prior increase in bail. Again, it was not anybody's best morning."
Gretchen Schuldt is executive director of the Wisconsin Justice Initiative.
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