"Evers' judges" is our effort to present information about Gov. Tony Evers' appointees to the bench. The information is taken from the appointees' own judgeship applications.
Italics indicate direct quotes from the application. Typos, including punctuation errors, come from the original application even though we have not inserted “(sic)” after each one. WJI has left them as is.
Name: LaKeisha D. Haase
Appointed to: Winnebago County Circuit Court
Appointment date: Dec. 7, 2020 (defeated in April 2022 election)
Law School – Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Undergraduate – University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Oshkosh
High School – Franklin High, Franklin, Wisconsin
Recent legal employment:
February 2019-present – Associate attorney, paralegal supervisor, Hogan Eickhoff, S.C., Appleton, Wisconsin
September 2011-January 2019 – Assistant state public defender, Office of State Public Defender, Appleton, Wisconsin
Bar and Administrative Memberships:
State Bar of Wisconsin
U.S. District Court
General character of practice:
The general character of my current practice consists of Family Law - pre and post-disposition; criminal defense to include minor traffic offenses through Class A felonies, revocation proceedings before Administrative Law Judges; CHIPs proceedings where I represent both parents and children; Termination of Parental Rights proceedings representing both children and parents; Civil Litigation limited to Injunction Proceedings; Chapter 51 Commitments; and Chapter 54 and 55 proceedings.
Number of cases tried to verdict: 4
List up to three significant trials, appeals, or other legal matters in which you participated as a judge or lawyer in the past seven years:
Injunction proceeding in Manitowoc County before Court Commissioner Charles Wingrove - the petitioner - wife alleged that my client, the respondent - spouse, sexually assaulted her throughout the court of the relationship and petitioned the court for an injunction. My client had a prior sexual assault conviction and was a registered sex offender. I obtained text messages between the parties. I was able to illicit testimony at the proceeding proving that the petitioner created the allegations due to infidelity and my client choosing to leave the marriage. My client was afraid that the injunction would jeopardize his placement with his children in the subsequent divorce proceedings. My client was fearful of testifying due to his past convictions. I spent a significant amount of time preparing my client for testimony. The petition for injunction was denied. Following the hearing, the clerk ran after me to not only congratulate me but inform me that throughout the proceeding she was messaging other clerks about the hearing because she was impressed with my preparation and professionalism. She also informed me that the court commissioner is rarely impressed by any counsel and responded positively to my representation of counsel, my professionalism, and preparedness. She then urged me to take more cases in Manitowoc County.
2nd degree and 3rd degree sexual assault in Brown County before the Honorable Donald Zuidmuilder …. The state alleged that my client sexually assaulted his family friend after a night out of drinking at a concert. The state moved to admit other acts. Specifically, the state wanted to admit evidence of the client grabbing another individual's breast years earlier in Michigan. As co-counsel for the client, a police officer, I drafted the objection for other acts. My primary role as co-counsel was to cross-examine the alleged victim at trial. My objection to the state's motion for other acts was successful and the court denied the state's motion. In preparation for trial, I reviewed the text message exchanges between the alleged victim and her husband which led to defense preparing to present additional motions to include the exchanges at trial. The state eventually dismissed the case, I believe, in part on the strong defense presented during pretrial hearings and telephone conferences with the state. Unfortunately, the state did refile the case later.
I am co-counsel to a client on a 1st Degree Intentional Homicide charge in Outagamie County before the Honorable Gregory B. Gill, Jr. … I am the eighth attorney that has been appointed and the only attorney that has not been fired by the client. This case has been scheduled for trial on three separate occasions and the adjournments have not been due to defense counsel. My involvement in this case is significant because of my commitment to representing people of color, specifically, black men that are incarcerated in smaller counties in Wisconsin on higher level offenses. I am aware of the lack of legal representation from attorney's of color in the State of Wisconsin and I am all to familiar with the desire of clients to trust the judicial system even if it is a small fraction by way of their counsel. This client has expressed his appreciation of having an attorney of color represent him, an attorney that understands the cultural differences and dynamics that are important for him. My representation of this client has been nothing short of zealous advocacy but I also developed a relationship with him that is built on likeness and understanding that prior counsel could never provide.
Experience in adversary proceedings before administrative bodies:
While employed with the Office of the State Public Defender I represented defendant's in revocation proceedings. As an Assistant State Public Defender, I represented countless clients in revocation proceedings.
In private practice, I continue to represent clients at revocation proceedings, I have represented four clients in revocation proceedings while in private practice; three of which I was successful in avoiding revocation and one was a waiver of right to a revocation hearing.
Describe your non-litigation experience (e.g., arbitration, mediation).
Outagamie County Drug and Alcohol Abuse Treatment Court (DATC) - As defense counsel team member, I was an integral part of the Drug Court team, I participated in pre-court staffings, hearings, team communication and decision making, information sharing, and team training.
Position or involvement in judicial, non-partisan, or partisan political campaign, committee, or organization: N/A
Previous runs for public office: N/A
All judicial or non-partisan candidates endorsed in the last ten years: N/A
Professional or civic and charitable organizations:
Women in Management, 2020 to present
Wisconsin Association of African American Lawyers, 2011 to present
Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, 2019 to present
National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, 2020 to present
Winnebago County Bar Association, 2019 to present
Significant pro bono legal work or volunteer service:
As an Assistant State Public Defender I was restricted from practicing or volunteering in any legal capacity outside of the agency.
As an Assistant State Public Defender, I was a member of the Affirmative Action Equal Employment Opportunity Advisory Committee, the Outagamie County Coordinating Counsel Committee, the Outagamie County Racial Disparity Committee, and the Outagamie County Evidence Based Decision Making Committee.
As a student at Marquette University Law School, I volunteered at the Family Law Clinic, Small Claims Clinic, and the Pro Bono Legal Clinic.
Prior to law school and while an employee at the Winnebago County Courthouse, I volunteered at the Legal Self Help Clinic and the Drunk Driving Victim Impact Panel.
Why I want to be a judge:
I want to serve the people of Wisconsin as a Judge because I believe in the need to have a fair and impartial judiciary. I believe that a fair and impartial judiciary must be made up of individuals who are educated, compassionate, and diverse.
I have practiced in the State of Wisconsin for over 9 years. I have approached every case and client with professionalism and respect. I have used my voice and position as an attorney as both learning and teachable moments. I have spent countless hours in the courtroom. I have practiced before Judges in over 12 different counties. I know that every person, is deserving of respect.
I want to serve the people of Wisconsin, as Circuit Court Judge, for the same reasons that I chose to become an attorney, and that is to have a lasting impact on people, regardless of the case, the litigant, or the party.
Describe which case in the past 25 years by the Wisconsin Supreme Court or U.S. Supreme Court you believe had a significant positive or negative impact on the people of Wisconsin.
Although, there are many cases that have had an impact, whether negative, on positive, on Wisconsin citizens, Citizens United v. Federal Election Committee greatly impacted the citizens of Wisconsin. The 5-4 decision by the United States Supreme Court, has allowed for a minute fraction of residents to have an overwhelming, bull-horn, influence in elections while essentially muting the microphone of Wisconsin citizens as it relates to local politics and issues specific to Wisconsin residents.
Two or three judges whom I admire and why:
One Judge that I admire is Retired Judge Thomas Gritton, Winnebago County. I had the pleasure to work for Judge Gritton as his court assistant. As a former prosecutor, Judge Gritton was committed to educating himself on all areas of the law to make an informed and impartial decision in every case before him.
I was able to witness firsthand the respect he gave every person, regardless of the case, that entered his courtroom. I had a front row seat to the decisions he had to make and the thought that he put into each case whether it was a civil matter, criminal, family, or a minor traffic offense. The cases and tough decisions were at times difficult for him, yet he never treated, even the simplest of cases, as though the parties were not impacted by the justice system and ultimately impacted by him.
Judge Gritton’s time on the bench was never about just getting cases through the system. I vividly recall walking through the doors of the Winnebago County Courthouse with Judge Gritton one afternoon when a woman walked up to him, calling out his name. She reminded him of her criminal case and sentence; it was a prison sentence and the first and only time she was sentenced to prison. To my surprise, she thanked him. She thanked him for the words at her hearing and thanked him for sending her to prison. She expressed that admittedly when he sentenced her, she was angry and upset. She went on to tell him that over time she thought about what he told her and was determined to turn her life.
In addition to Judge Gritton, there are many other Judges and Justices that I admire, but a true standout is Justice Sonia Sotomayor. As a Justice, even when she is not a part of the majority, she speaks up. Her dissents as it relates to race, gender, criminal justice reform and discrimination are powerful, moving, and educational. Her reputation of extending kindness and respect to parties is well known.
The proper role of a judge:
The proper role of a Judge is to be a courtroom administrator. A judge is to interpret the law while apply the laws to the facts of a case while remaining impartial. A judge must be fully prepared to rule on matters, listen intently, and do the necessary work to lead to an informed, educated, and impartial decision. A judge has a duty to every person that enters the courtroom to treat them with respect, show dignity, and rule according to the law.
A Judge must bring respect and dignity to the bench. A judge must learn and teach. I previously spoke of teachable moments, but it is clear that a judge has a duty to the community to teach and inform of those areas of the law that impacts the community.
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