In an effort to keep a three-year sexual abuse case on schedule, a second district court judge refused to accept a public defenders request to withdraw from the case and the defendants request for a new attorney. In response, defendant Scott L. Gollaher waived his right to counsel and will represent himself when his trial is on the docket next on Jan. 6. On the docket for an evidentiary motion hearing, the case involves four charges of aggravated sexual abuse of a child stemming back to 2012. Each charge carries the possibility of a five-years-to-life sentence as well as a $20,000 fine. These are serious charges, Gollaher said. I am fighting for my life. Morgan County Attorney Jann Farris agreed, saying the Gollaher case was an extreme one with a high volume of discovery. Judge Noel S. Hyde said Gollaher has the right to obtain counsel or counsel in addition to his public defender, at his own expense. However, the judge added a provision that the court will not consider either if it causes further delays in the trial as currently scheduled. Dressed in Salt Lake County jail garb in the Morgan County Courthouse Wednesday, Gollaher said he felt the provision was unconstitutional. The court discourages the substitution or withdrawal (of an attorney) if it would cause delay or continuance of a trial, Judge Hyde said. A delay has already occurred. The case has already stretched on for more than three years after Gollahers first public defender withdrew from the case and the court allowed time for a new state-appointed public defender, Martin V Gravis, to get up to speed. In a court inquiry Wednesday, Gollaher said Gravis had a conflict of interest and therefore must be removed as his attorney. He said the Morgan County Attorney Jann Farris hand-selected Gravis in a suspicious and manipulative process; Gravis had a financial incentive to please Farris because Morgan County cuts his paycheck; and that there had been a breakdown in communication between Gollaher and Gravis. This is a man I cannot talk to, Gollaher told the judge. I dont have any trust in him. I have no confidence in this man. He is a puppet of the prosecution. I am looking for a zealous advocate. He is a warm body with a bar license. Gollaher said he had sent Gravis 23 emails since June, only to get a response to one. Coming on the case after another public defender was dismissed, Gravis said he knew the case might be difficult. Gollaher has a much different concept of this case than I did, he said. The judge said that strategizing a trial according to the defendants wishes does not make a public defender incompetent, inattentive or guilty of having a conflict of interest. Hyde said Gravis, who has been a public defender in Weber County for 28 years, can effectively present a defense. A defendant cannot require counsel to be a hired mouth piece, Judge Hyde said, encouraging Gollaher to cooperate with his appointed counsel in order to get an effective defense. Gollaher further argued that Graviss hefty case loadîwhich equaled 425 cases in October and November according to his researchîmade it so he did not have enough time to prepare an effective defense. The attorney refused to file objections, issue subpoenas for out-of-state witnesses and conduct research to Gollahers standards, he said. There has been no discussion of strategy. For five months he kicked the can down the road and intentionally denied me access to court, Gollaher said. He is the poster child for what is wrong with our system. Even when there is substantial friction between a defendant and (his) counsel, the preference of the defendant is not important, Judge Hyde said, siting case law. Judge Hyde said Gollahers accusations against Gravis and County Attorney Farris accusatory and inflammatory. Further, the judge said Gollaher failed to produce evidence that public defender Gravis had a conflict of interest in his case. The court rules the argument is not persuasive, Hyde said. To say that the state cannot both appoint and pay a public defender to represent an indigent client without creating a conflict of interest is to set the constitution on its ear, Hyde said, and such is not the case. Hyde said an indigent defendant does not have the right to terminate his public defender. When counsel is appointed, it is by the court, Hyde said. An indigent does not have the right to terminate a public defender. The court alone has the authority to release counsel. Hyde did acknowledge that there had been a breakdown in communication between Gollaher and his most recent public defender, but the court attributes the falling out to the conduct of the defendant, Gollaher. Gollaher said his case calls for an expert and that state agencies are withholding evidence from his review. As the judge concluded the court inquiry, finished stating the courts ruling and headed for his chambers, Gollaher said he had motions and subpoenas prepared to file that day. Bailiffs had to repeatedly ask Gollaher not to speak out of turn, slam papers on the desk in front of him, and stand up while addressing the judge. I get a little onry after three years, Gollaher admitted. It has been a long three and a half years. In open court, Gollaher said his hand was shaking when signing his name to the waiver for counsel, effectively putting his desire to represent himself on record with the court. Both Gollaher and Judge Hyde noted that if he represents himself, Gollaher may not be able to interrogate minor children he allegedly sexually abused when the trial proceeds in six weeks from now. Your honor, this is not a good day for you and I, Gollaher said, addressing Hyde in court Wednesday. I defend my position of innocence.
Please follow and like us: