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. Back to the subject, I must agree with OS, this man needs a thorough mental examination by someone with extensive forensic experience. While I know that some may think he is “acting” to escape prison, I would suggest that if true, that line of thought would also strongly suggest insanity.

    As to the Texas judge, he is no doubt a creature of his community in believing corporal punishment is useful for disciplining a child. As such he is unfit for his judgeship. Corporal punishment is NEVER a workable means of child rearing and those who use it are terrible parents. This bastard should be shunned by his community, If Jack B is correct about thi community though, he will have his defenders. Fundamentalism thrives where the need to crush individual thought prevails and is thus characteristic of totalitarian community mindsets.

  2. Can’t deny someone their right to counsel. Judge needs to do a mental health eval and then remove the defendant from the court room – give him a CCTV link, as they have done in plenty of trials before.

  3. The only thing that surprises me in this story is the fact that the daughter was able to get, save, and then post the video! The rest of it is commonplace.

  4. Oro, it’s the extreme prejudice or inflammatory qualities that make me think the video would never be admitted.

    As for the statute of limitations running out, it’s not until 10 years after her 18th birthday, so the Aransas County authorities have plenty of time to build their case… or circle their wagons. I;m guessing wagons will be circled.

    I’m also guessing that Judge Adams, for all his dislike of the internet, is going to become closely acquainted with Anonymous over the coming days. Spare the lulz, spoil the judge, as they say…

  5. You betcha it’s admissible — as long as the daughter establishes the proper predicate:

    Did you make this recording?
    Is that you in the recording?
    Is the recording a true and accurate depiction of what happened?

    The only possible exclusion is that the extreme prejudice of the recording outweighs its relevance.

    The issue is whether limitations has run — that should be a no-brained if law enforcement knows the girl’s birthday.

  6. re: the family court judge beating his daughter

    This happened in my backyard (I live in Corpus Christi, TX), so this is huge news. The people in Aransas County are freaking out because I honestly don’t think they’ve ever been under any media scrutiny that closely compares to what’s going on now.

    To those of you who have some legal background and have seen the video: Should this lead to arrest and indictment, do you think the video would ever be admissible in court? My layman’s guess is “not a chance in hell”, but if I’m wrong, my layman’s prediction would be “Judge Adams is gonna get buried under the jail.”

    This happened in the heart of “Spare the rod, spoil the child” land (I’m not kidding; Google “Lester Roloff” to see what I’m talking about), but most South Texans are incredibly shocked and disturbed by this story.

  7. Because the Police and Judges work so closely together..I’d feel more confident if it was an outside agency…..

  8. ” and the matter is now under review by the Police Department. ”

    let that be any other person than this judge,and they have it on video.!!

  9. There is no reason for child abuse in any shape form or fashion….and ti hit this child….who is handicapped….is bad enough….and if he was a Family Court Judge….what is the line of demarcation…..

  10. Thanks for the story, OS. As you know AY, I’ve recommended a return to the public stocks before. Looks like another good case for it assuming it’s proven true.

  11. mespo,

    I am still very much angry….This is one case where I think there should be some form of public Flogging or Similar humiliation exacted….

  12. AY:

    I saw this story last night and the video. Apparently her “crime” was having a computer in the house and playing games on it. It helped with her disability. A family court judge? It’s disgraceful.

    The great irony is that he was caught on a webcam the 16-year-old set up to catch him.

  13. OS,

    I know this is disturbing….but what is more disturbing is this MFer is or should I say a FAMILY COURT JUDGE…..He should be ashamed…

  14. AY, the county web site has this notice posted:

    N E W S R E L E A S E
    County of Aransas, 301 N. Live Oak, Rockport, Texas 78382
    Aransas County Judge C. H. “Burt” Mills, Jr., 361-790-0100
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    November 2, 2011

    ARANSAS COUNTY, TEXAS – Judge Burt Mills has today announced that Aransas County is aware of the video posted on YouTube regarding County Court-at-Law Judge William Adams, and the matter is now under review by the Police Department. Please refrain from communication with County offices or the Sheriff’s Department on this matter until the review has been completed. Calls, emails, and faxes only create disruptions for other ongoing county business. The public’s cooperation would be most appreciated.

    The judge was seen packing his luggage, briefcase and guns. He apparently has left his home due to death threats. He is not expected to show up for court today…. :mrgreen:

    Another story about it here.

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/11/01/1032380/-Texas-Judge-Caught-Beating-Disabled-Daughter-on-Video?detail=hide

  15. But it is not as bad as the MF…….Who is a FAMILY COURT JUDGE…..

    Texas judge under investigation after beating disabled daughter video goes viral
    A Texas judge is under investigation after his disabled daughter posted a YouTube video of him savagely beating her with a belt during a tirade several years ago when she was a teenager.

    Warning: some viewers may find the graphic content in the video distressing
    The nearly eight-minute video, which has been viewed more than one million times since it was uploaded last week, shows County Court Judge William Adams lashing his then-16-year-old daughter Hillary in the legs more than a dozen times and growing increasingly irate while she screams and refuses to turn over on a bed to be beaten.
    “Lay down or I’ll spank you in your (expletive) face,” Adams screams. His daughter, Hillary, who suffers from ataxic cerebral palsy, wails and pleads for him to stop.
    The 51-year-old judge, who handles child abuse cases among others, told television station KZTV that the video “looks worse than it is”, and that he didn’t expect any legal action to be taken against him.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/8866627/Texas-judge-under-investigation-after-beating-disabled-daughter-video-goes-viral.html

  16. OOPS: “This is not a case of dilettantes or amateurs in forensic evaluations.”

    Should read: This is not a case for dilettantes or amateurs in forensic evaluations.

  17. What is the judge thinking? If anyone was ever in need of a full mental health evaluation, it is this defendant. Just because you act out and are disruptive is not necessarily an indication of willful disobedience. Is he responding to command hallucinations? Nothing in the piece indicates whether that was even considered by the court. Not surprising because very few lawyers are finely tuned to the nuances of mental illness.

    IMHO, what the judge should do is refer him for a full inpatient evaluation at the forensic unit of a state hospital, if such is available. If not, then a court-appointed evaluation by a Board certified forensic psychologist. This is not a case of dilettantes or amateurs in forensic evaluations.

  18. Can they strap him in a dolly like in the Silence of the Lambs? Because he needs a lawyer, otherwise Court of Appeals will reverse the ruling faster than a Kardashian wedding.

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