Archive for Thursday, September 30, 1999

DEFENDANT FIRES ATTORNEY, TAKES ON CASE HIMSELF

September 30, 1999

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A judge on Wednesday ordered a Lawrence man who acted as his own attorney to stand trial on an aggravated battery charge.

During his preliminary hearing Wednesday afternoon, a Lawrence man accused of aggravated battery fired his court-appointed attorney and began questioning his alleged victim about the case.

Acting as his own attorney, Isaac E. Smith, 26, repeatedly questioned the woman he allegedly kicked and shoved on July 21, after she entered a Eudora residence shared by Smith and a friend of the alleged victim.

Throughout the cross-examination in Douglas County District Court, Smith referred to himself as "the defendant," "Mr. Smith," "I" and "he."

"What did I proceed to do, as myself, Mr. Smith?" he asked the woman at one point.

District Judge Michael Malone ruled that Smith should stand trial on the aggravated battery charge.

When the hearing started, Smith said he didn't want his attorney, Joyce Haile Selassie, to represent him.

Douglas County Assistant Dist. Atty. Rick Trapp questioned the alleged victim about the incident. She said she went to the residence to see a friend who was dating Smith, knocked on the door and entered without anyone answering. The woman said she had entered after knocking in the past.

Soon after she went into the house, the woman said Smith entered the living room after her and began yelling at her, telling her to get out. She said Smith said she should be gone before he counted to 10, but then he pushed her into a wall after counting to four.

She said he also kicked her several times and then dragged her outside, leaving her on the steps to the residence. She told Trapp she suffered a fractured rib.

After Trapp questioned the woman, Malone asked Smith a series of questions concerning his desire to represent himself. Smith signed a court document stating his intentions, and Malone allowed him to cross-examine the woman.

Malone said Haile Selassie, who sat in the spectator's seats in the courtroom, could act as a consultant during the hearing, but could only answer specific questions asked of her by Smith.

Immediately following Malone's decision, Smith said he hadn't read all of the reports and requested a continuance. Malone denied the request.

Later, Smith asked for more time before he asked questions.

"Mr. Smith, you're the one who put yourself in this position," Malone said. "Ask your next question."

After the hearing, Trapp said he couldn't talk about the specifics of the case, but said it's rare that a defendant asks to represent himself.

-- Chris Koger's phone message number is 832-7126. His e-mail address is ckoger@ljworld.com.

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