I’m beginning to have some serious concerns about the public defenders in Indiana. It’s Monday morning (July 25) and I just got off the phone with the second public defender that has been appointed to my case. Our conversation has left me wondering if it is possible for me to have a public defender who will not only provide fair representation, but also not mislead me or lie to me.
I know it is a cardinal sin to share uncomplimentary information about a lawyer who is currently representing you but I’m just being consistent in sharing my experiences in being prosecuted/persecuted by Dearborn County, Indiana. My first public defender, John Watson, told me in March that he didn’t have a conflict in representing me in a case where Judge James D. Humphrey is an alleged victim. Two months later, Watson filed a motion to withdraw stating he had a conflict because he had pending cases in Judge Humphrey’s court. The third judge in my case, Rush County Judge Brian Hill, granted Watson’ motion to withdraw, after a hearing on June 17, 2011. On June 20, 2011, Judge Hill appointed Rush County lawyer, Bryan Barrett, to be my new public defender.
I feel very lucky to have people working to help me on the outside. Both the Court and my two public defenders have failed to notify me of court dates, judicial appointments and/or the appointment of public defenders. If I didn’t have my mom and brother searching court records and reporting the status of my case I wouldn’t have a clue as to what was happening in my trial. If it wasn’t for the fact that my mom and brother told me that the Court appointed Bryan Barrett on June 20, 2011 to serve as my public defender, I wouldn’t have known who my new defender was until the day of my July 18, 2011 pretrial hearing; the first time Mr. Barrett contacted me.
In my initial meeting with Mr. Barrett, which was a few hours before my pretrial hearing, Mr. Barrett informed me that he had not reviewed my case. (I did have a bond reduction hearing scheduled for that date but during the July 18, 2011 hearing, Judge Hill stated that he contacted both parties by phone to inform them that the bond hearing would be continued to a later date, based on a Motion to Continue filed by Prosecutor F. Aaron Negangard on June 28, 2011. Mr. Barrett gave no indication that he was aware of the continuance as we discussed strategies for the bond hearing. At the conclusion of the hearing on Monday, July 18, 2011, Bryan Barrett gave no indication that he was aware of the continuance as we discussed strategies for the bond hearing. At the conclusion of the hearing on Monday, July 18, 2011 Bryan Barrett gave me the mailing address of his office and his cell phone number. He also told me that I could contact him at the Rush County Public Defender’s Office and provided me with the address and phone number of the RCPDO. Mr. Barrett also said he would give me a copy of the transcripts from the grand jury proceedings. When I told him that if he sent a copy of the CD-Rom containing the transcripts to my mother, she might have been able to get a copy of the transcripts to me a little faster because she was available to print and mail the transcripts immediately. Mr. Barrett said he would give my mother a copy of the CD-Rom outside after the hearing. He also told me that we would be in touch and he would be in to see me later in the week.
One of the great mysteries of the universe is why do many lawyers get mad at their clients because their clients voice their frustrations about their lawyers not following through on promises made to their clients. A couple of hours after my July 18, 2011 hearing, I phoned my mother to see if Mr. Barrett gave her a copy of the CD-Rom bearing the transcripts from the grand jury hearing. Mom informed me that Bryan Barrett had failed to do so. As Mr. Barrett provided my mother with two business cards and two email addresses, she sent an email to Mr. Barrett informing him that she was willing to assist him in printing and delivering the transcripts to me. I had given Mr. Barrett permission to share information with my mother and my Ohio lawyer. The next day she emailed him this information about helping anyway she could and then followed with phone calls, later in the week. When she called the RCPDO Mr. Barrett was not in. A day or two later I called both Mr. Barrett’s mobile and the RCPDO. Mr. Barrett did not answer his phone and the RCPDO denied my call from the Dearborn County Law Enforcement Center. I was not calling collect. The RCPDO originally told my mom that I needed to call Mr. Barrett’s private practice because they claimed that I was a personal client, but my mother informed the RCPDO that Bryan Barrett was appointed by Rush County Judge Brian Hill to serve as my public defender. The staff at the RCPDO later told my mother that the RCPDO did not accept my call from the jail because Mr. Barrett was not available and the staff did not want to waste my phone minutes by answering the phone. As the jail phone system won’t allow me to leave a voice mail, and the RCPDO would not answer the phone if Bryan Barrett was not in, and since Mr. Barrett hadn’t returned any written/electronic correspondence, the only way that I could communicate with Mr. Barrett was by continuing to call with the hopes of catching him in the office. So I kept calling, and now my lawyer is mad at me.
I’m writing this on Monday, July 25, 2011 a little more than a week away from my bond hearing on August 3, 2011 and a few weeks away from my jury trial scheduled for August 16, 2011, which gives me very little time to review the grand jury transcripts if I received them today. I called the RCPDO but they wouldn’t accept my prepaid call from the jail. I called Bryan Barrett’s mobile phone but there was no answer so I decided to continue calling the RCPDO until someone accepted my call so I could leave a message for my lawyer. After several attempts someone finally answered; an angry Bryan Barrett.
“You just can’t keep calling!” exclaimed Mr. Barrett. If my Ohio lawyer is unavailable when I phone his office, the office manager politely says “He’s in court”, “He’s on another line”, He’s with another client”, etc. and will take a message and usually gives me an idea of when my lawyer will be available. If I get my Ohio lawyer directly and he’s busy, he’ll tell me to call back later or that he will return my call. Mr. Barrett and the RCPDO apparently were just dodging my calls.
Before the anti-Dan people have the chance to accuse me of driving off another lawyer, prior to July 25, 2011 my only contact with Mr. Barrett was on July 18, 2011. He stated that he would give my mother the grand jury transcripts and told me he’d be in to see me later in the week. In a week’s time his demeanor changed drastically. He changed his mind about giving my mother the grand jury transcripts. He wouldn’t release them to my Ohio lawyer. Barrett said he wouldn’t let me have a copy of the transcripts unless he received approval from Judge Hill. Needless to say he hadn’t filed a motion seeking the Court’s approval of giving me access to the evidence against me. Actually, it appears as he hasn’t done anything at all.
“Do you want to represent yourself or do you want me to represent you?” This seems to be a common response from lawyers when they have been less than diligent in representing their clients. Rather than admit that they haven’t done their jobs, some lawyers resort to the old “if you don’t like it, do it yourself”. Mr. Barrett attacked me when I told him that he needs to subpoena the case file from Dr. Connor’s August 29, 2007 Child Custody Evaluation Report. I explained to him that the Court set my high bond partially based on psychological testing from Dr. Connor’s report. Despite the fact that I was not a lawyer, Barrett readily concurred that I was correct. In fact, the entire legal fiasco began in March 2008 over the release of Dr. Connor’s case file in my divorce trial. Dr. Connor lied about the release of his case file. Judge Taul recused himself after communication with Dr. Connor outside the presence of the parties. Judge Humphrey took over and denied me access to evidence in Dr. Connor’s case file. I wrote about the events on the internet so Judge Humphrey terminated my parenting time with my 3 and 5 year old daughters. When I continued to write about the conduct of Dr. Connor and Judge Humphrey, Dearborn County Prosecutor F. Aaron Negangard had me arrested for exercising my First Amendment Right of free speech. Of course Barrett would have known this if he would have reviewed some of the prosecution’s evidence against me. The problem is that my public defender doesn’t even have a copy of the prosecution’s nearly 1,400 pages of evidence against me.
At the end of the hearing on my first public defender’s motion to withdraw, John Watson appeared noble in his statement to Judge Hill that he would work to send my case file to the next public defender as soon as possible. Watson even told me that Judge Hill already had my next public defender “lined up.” That was on June 17, 2011. Somehow my two public defenders have been unsuccessful in moving my case file from John Watson’s office to Brian Barrett’s office. In the 36 days since Barrett’s appointment, the two lawyers have been unable to coordinate the mailing of one CD-Rom from John Watson’s office to Bryan Barrett’s office. The real tragedy of the situation is that somehow I will be portrayed as a villain for writing about it. I can’t talk bad about lawyers.
I don’t know why a lawyer would take offense because their client wants to participate in the client’s own defense. While I had Bryan Barrett on the phone, I told him about the recent federal appellate case that dealt with the criminalization of free speech. (See my blog above on the appellate case.) When I told Barrett that the case was out of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Barrett scoffed at the case because he said everyone laughs at the Ninth Circuit. Rather than listening to the content of the court case, Barrett was ready to dismiss it because the case was decided by the Ninth Circuit. It was only after I told him that there were numerous references to Virginia v. Black, a defining case that sets the standards for criminalizing pure speech that Barrett acknowledged that he would look at the case.
I have a bond reduction hearing set for August 3, 2011, I have a jury trial set for August 16th, and I have a public defender who doesn’t have 1,400 pages of the prosecution’s potential evidence, who, refuses to give me access to evidence, and who is angry at me because I was persistent in trying to get in contact with him to check the status of my case. He told me that he had 14 other things going on and he would get to me when he had a chance. This is coming from a man who was reprimanded by the Indiana Supreme Court for failing to file documents on time. This doesn’t even account for the fact that he has to take a minimum of three hours out of his day if he wants to meet with me. Barrett’s office is roughly an hour and a half drive from the Dearborn County Jail.
The State of Indiana is trying to wreck any chance of me having a fair trial. I’ve had two public defenders whom either didn’t want to take on my case and/or didn’t have the time to allot to my case. There have been three judges on my case. When the state finally got its act together, the judge sets my bond reduction hearing just two weeks before my jury trial. I could always continue the final hearing to a later date but then the State can claim that I waived my right to a speedy trial and then keep me incarcerated indefinitely, while Prosecutor Negangard has the ability to stall the proceedings.
I’m having a difficult time believing that our founding fathers would have approved of the way my case has been handled. It’s just an ongoing roller coaster ride filled with civil rights violations. That’s why I’m speaking up. If the system wants to punish me for writing about my experiences, I’m going to force the system to say that I’m not allowed to tell the public about the misconduct of the professionals in the system. Today someone told me that I’m never going to get out of here but a lot of people may benefit from what I’m doing. The problems extend far beyond my situation but someone has to take a stand. My family, friends, and I are in it for the long haul; I hope the State of Indiana is up for the challenge. Thank you for the support. My bond reduction hearing is Wednesday, August 3, 2011 at 1:30 in the Dearborn County Courthouse and my jury trial date is August 16, 2011 at 8:30AM in the same place.