WAUKESHA, Wis. — Darrell Brooks Jr. told the judge presiding over his case that he “was informed” that by waiving his right to have attorneys represent him, he would lose legal expertise and assistance for his upcoming trial.
After a hearing Tuesday, and nearly two hours of discussion Wednesday, and despite a plea from his mom, Judge Jennifer Dorow granted Brooks' request to represent himself.
Things got chippy between the suspect in the Waukesha Christmas parade attack suspect and Dorow during Wednesday's hearing. It was often over the language the judge was using, compared to what Brooks wanted to use.
“I cannot say that this is one of those narrow class…," Dorow said, before being interrupted.
“I never once said that I understand. I object," Brooks interjected. "Which is my First Amendment right to say what I want.”
"Mr. Brooks, your rights do not involve interrupting me," Dorow said. "That’s the procedure that we will follow.”
Despite these interruptions and disagreements on language used, Dorow said Brooks was competent to represent himself.
“He understands that a lawyer may be of assistance, understands that a lawyer may be appointed if the defendant is indigent, and understands the disadvantages of self-representation," Dorow said. "He is voluntarily and freely waiving his right to be represented by counsel and is making a deliberate choice to proceed without counsel.”
“Informed of," Brooks interrupted. "I never said I understand. I never once said I understand. As a matter of fact I do not understand."
The public defenders who were assigned to him — Jeremy Perri and Anna Kees — were discharged. They will no longer be on the trial, which starts in less than a week.
Brooks had until 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday to waive his right to attorney representation. On the form submitted to the judge, he made handwritten notes.
He changed every “I understand” to “I am informed.” At the very end of the document, he wrote that he "did not give up his right to assistance of counsel." Based on state public defender rules, that’s not allowed, and Dorow explained that to Brooks.
Dorow also asked if this was a delay tactic by Brooks. He said it was not.
She said the court was not going to delay the start of the trial regardless of her ruling.
Dorow also explained to Brooks that there could be challenges for him when it comes to strikes for cause during jury selection, evidence questions, jury instructions and more.
“I think you were pretty clear in what you advised me of," Brooks said. "I think you made it very clear it would be challenging but not impossible. That were your exact words verbatim.”
The court also made it clear to Brooks that he cannot flip flop if he regrets this decision.
Jury selection starts Monday at 8:30 a.m.
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