Babbitt's Department of Ulterior

Watching the Cash
Astroturf Opposition
Raise Your Right Hand
The Decision
Excerpts from C-SPAN
Raise Your Right Hand
Mr. Tilsen, though himself a witness in the case, presented himself at a deposition as the attorney representing another Hudson resident. Unfortunately, Tilsen was not licensed to practice law in Wisconsin. The court reporter captured this exchange when Tilsen’s presence was challenged:

“Tilsen: ‘Why are you questioning me? I think it’s--I think that you’re--I think that you have no right to question me and I think that your questions are presumptive and irrelevant, and I think furthermore that you have a full knowledge of what the appropriate proceeding is to deal with this issue before the court and you have neglected your duty. You have presumed to take the responsibility of the court onto yourself and I think you are subject to censure for failing to carry out your duties if you feel I shouldn’t be here . . .’”

The attorney representing the three tribes seeking the casino permit summoned the police when Tilsen refused to cease posing as a lawyer. The police officer asked Tilsen to vacate the office.

“Tilsen: ‘Well, I’m not leaving. I will accept a citation for violation of the trespass statutes, which is what I understand that he wanted you to do, and we’ll dispute--we’ll find out in court whether or not I am legally trespassing or not. . . .’”

“Officer Weigang: ‘Mr. Tilsen, the only thing that concerns me right now is that you’re on somebody else’s premises. They have asked you to leave and you’re refusing to do so.’”

“Tilsen: ‘--trespass is--trespass is--the failure to leave--’”

“Officer Weigang: ‘I’m going to go--’”

“Tilsen: ‘Let me finish the sentence. Please. It’s an important sentence. Trespass is the failure to leave unless one has a claim of right. I am sure the Wisconsin statute provides for a claim of right. I claim a right. I’ve litigated the question of a claim of right many times. I’ve litigated a claim of right in trespass cases to the Supreme Court. I believe the Wisconsin statute provides for a claim of right. I claim a right to be present because this is a public deposition, if for no other reason.

‘Read the statute. What does it say? What does it say? You’re reading it to yourself. You don’t want to read the claim of right part.’”

“Court Reporter: ‘Wait, just wait, wait.’”

“Tilsen: ‘I wonder why you refuse to read the claim of right provision in the statute?’”

“Officer Weigang: ‘I haven’t been able to find it yet.’”

At this point a lawyer licensed to practice in Wisconsin informed the policeman that the state had no claim of right statute.

“Officer Weigang: ‘I’m going to ask you to leave now. If you refuse to leave then I am going to take you into physical custody for failure to obey a police officer.’”

“Tilsen: ‘It has to be a lawful order to obey, and a lawful order to obey depends upon whether or not I have a lawful claim of right . . .’”

“Officer Weigang: ‘. . . I’m asking you to leave right now. If you refuse to leave, I’m going to take you into custody . . .”

“Tilsen: ‘--police officer? The problem with that, of course--’”

“Officer Weigang: ‘I don’t want to hear any of the problems with this on your point of view. You either leave or I’m going to arrest you.’”

Several minutes later, Tilsen left.


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As originally published in Phoenix New Times