WAUKESHA - Will Darrell Brooks Jr. be allowed to represent himself at his homicide and reckless endangerment trial beginning Monday? That's the question that will be decided at a hearing Tuesday afternoon.
Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Jennifer Dorow will have to decide between Brooks' constitutional right to head into the trial with no attorney and the exceptions that would allow her to turn down his request.
Waukesha County District Attorney Sue Opper, in a flurry of last-minute requests and filings Monday, did not object to Brooks' self-representation, supporting his right so long as the court determines that he understands what he is undertaking and the seriousness of the charges he is facing.
Brooks, 40, of Milwaukee is accused of 77 criminal counts, including six of first-degree intentional homicide, tied to the Waukesha Christmas Parade tragedy in November 2021. His defense attorneys' motion to withdraw from the case, filed Sept. 22, indicated his attention to represent himself.
That led to speculation about the effect of such a strategy on proceedings expected to involve dozens of witnesses and run several weeks and possibly involve complex legal issues that Brooks would have to address on his own.
It also comes just weeks after Brooks withdrew his insanity defense plea and raised a question about whether his intent would be to delay the trial, which could severely affect the specialized process to screen jurors months in advance as part of an effort to ensure a fair trial.
Opper, in her motion, also cautioned that she hopes there is no intent to delay the trial, an issue Dorow has previously addressed in rejecting his attorneys' concerns about scheduling early in the year.
Dorow previously turned down defense requests for a change of venue, instead opting to employ the uncommon practice of advance questionnaires to the entire jury pool last spring.
Opper noted that process in stating her objection to any potential request to delay the trial, which would likely negate the detailed screening process for jurors.
The trial is scheduled to run from Oct. 3-28, according to court records. As recently as two weeks ago, it appeared the trial would not require the full four weeks. But experts say that if Brooks is allowed to represent himself, it could slow down the process.
This story will be updated.
Our subscribers make this reporting possible. Please consider supporting local journalism by subscribing to the Journal Sentinel at jsonline.com/deal.
DOWNLOAD THE APP: Get the latest news, sports and more
This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Hearing will decide if Darrell Brooks can represent himself at trial