Three Strikes and You’re Out [of Lawyers]: Judge Rules That Violent Defendant Must Represent Himself

For Joshua Monson, it appears that the court has finally run out of pencils and he has run out of lawyers. Monson has stabbed three prior lawyers with pens or pencils. Now, Snohomish County Superior Court Judge David Kurtz (left) has ruled that he has forfeited his right to counsel and must represent himself.

On Tuesday, Monson, 27, grabbed the pen being used by his defense lawyer, Jesse Cantor of Everett, Wash., and stabbed him in the head during opening statements in Monson’s felony drug trial in Washington. He was wearing an electric stun cuff and officers activated it. (For the record, I am a critic of the use of these stun belts in courts, though it proved useful in this case). He also faces charges for assaulting two corrections officers on two separate occasions at the Snohomish County Jail.”

Snohomish County Superior Court Judge David Kurtz also ordered Monson placed in a special chair with straps for the rest of the trial.

I have serious reservations about Kurtz’s orders. He is certainly on good ground to impose restrictions. However, there is a serious question of Monson’s mental capacity to stand trial. Even if he is found mentally fit to stand trial, the denial of a lawyer is that last thing that you want to do in such a case with a clearly disturbed individual. Pretending that he can represent himself will not make it so. He clearly cannot represent himself and the trial will become an even greater mockery. It is also not clear why, if you are going to restrain him, he also should be denied a lawyer.

I sympathize with the court (and really really sympathize with the lawyers), but this is not the first time such an attack has occurred. My former co-counsel in the Jim Nicholson espionage case, Jonathan Shapiro, was knocked out once by a deranged client in court. These acts result in new criminal charges and restrictions. However, to deny a lawyer is to deny the most basic element of a fair trial.

What do you think?

Source: Herald

29 thoughts on “Three Strikes and You’re Out [of Lawyers]: Judge Rules That Violent Defendant Must Represent Himself”

  1. I’d say that Judge Kurtz must obviously get off to being reversed by the Superior Courts!

  2. This guy needs mental evaluation even if it*s some bizarre ploy to mount an insanity plea I believe he deserves a few professional opinions; after all the professionals are meant to sort out the real from the fake.

    As to the child beating judge Texas has a State Committee on Judicial Conduct. Find it on web, fill out complaint form, print it and send it in. They are meant to be independent and have jurisdiction over court in law judges and powers to investigate and sanction.

  3. Maybe he’s super brilliant and is merely critiquing his lawyers defense. 🙂

  4. When I was Pro Se in a medical malpractice case my treatment by the Court was abhorrent. Maybe I should have been a little violent. If another judge had forced pro se on me maybe the judge who treated me like dirt, in front of the jury during trial and other lawyers during motions court, would have treated me better.
    (Although the court essentially did force me to be Pro Se by letting my lawyer withdraw without other counsel in place – she did such a bad job other lawyers were lined up to sue her but would not take med mal case because of the mess she left it in.)

  5. As was said in various form above, my greatest concern would be the overturn and double jeopardy claim that would follow. When restraints are possible, including in the court room as we’ve seen in other cases, it makes no sense to stick with this denial of counsel.

  6. This guy should maybe ask for the County Judge who beat his defenseless daughter as his new judge. They are a good match as long as they take those electronic cuffs off of the defendant.

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