Sunday, August 27, 2006

Judge Bailin's "Rare and Important Order"

Some interesting and amusing articles have appeared about the lawyers who seek to represent John Mark Karr, the teacher brought back from Thailand in connection with the murder of JonBenet Ramsey.

Judge Bailin, who has been involved in the Ramsey case for many years, has said that Karr's lawyer is Seth Temin, a Colorado public defender. Bailin says that nobody can talk to Karr, even a lawyer, without getting written permission from Temin.

Two California lawyers, Jamie Harmon and Patience Van Zandt, have claimed that they were hired to represent John Mark Karr and that a Colorado lawyer, Rachel Cohen, would be assisting them.
[Chase Squires. "Karr defense fights to keep DNA private." A.P. Longmont FYI 8-27-06]

According to the Rocky Mountain News:

"Because Harmon and Van Zandt are not members of the Colorado Bar Association, they must associate with a local lawyer to work in Colorado courtrooms - but only once charges are filed."
[Charlie Brennan. "Calif. lawyers pick young local to represent Karr." Rocky Mountain News. 8-26-06.]

Cohen has denied that she plans to represent Karr. A statement posted on Cohen's website said, "I have not represented [Karr] and will not be representing him."
[Chase Squires. "Who is JonBenet suspect's lawyer? Confusion reigns on legal help for John Mark Karr, accused in the girl's death." A.P. Orlando Sentinel. 9-27-06.]

Karr's court-recognized attorney, Seth Temin has "asked Bailin to make prosecutors turn over all of the evidence amassed so far in the case if they bring formal charges against Karr, including evidence presented to a grand jury convened in the case nearly a decade ago."
["DNA test block sought in JonBenet case." 8-26-06. TVNZ.CO.NZ]

The persistent Harmon was not deterred:

"If (Karr) wants (public defenders) to be involved, that's fine...I'll remain in the case no matter what, in some capacity." [Charlie Brennan. "Calif. lawyers pick young local to represent Karr." Rocky Mountain News. 8-26-06]

It looks like Harmon will not be involved in the Karr defense in any capacity. The A.P. writer Chase Squires has observed:

"Harmon and Van Zandt were further marginalized Friday when District Court Judge Roxanne Bailin ordered that “any private person, professional or not” must obtain written permission from Temin before contacting Karr.

Denver attorney Larry Pozner, a former public defender, said Temin and his team have done an outstanding job in a short time. Their actions should end any confusion over who represents Karr, he said.

The phrase “professional or not” in Bailin’s order is rare and important, Pozner said. It blocks any attorneys from offering their services without Temin’s approval." [A.P. Longmont FYI]

"The tug of war is over," Pozner said. "I think the public defenders are firmly in control of the case, and the amateur hour is over. It was sad. It was a low point in the profession."Van Zandt and Harmon did not return telephone messages and e-mails Saturday. [A.P. Orlando Sentinel.]

Editorial speculation:

Judge Bailin must balance competing interests.

  • She must protect Karr's right to a lawyer who will genuinely represent his interests.
  • She must protect secret evidence that may implicate or clear Karr.
  • Judge Bailin must also guard against the remote possibility that somebody might insert lawyers into Karr's case in order to glean law enforcement and grand jury secrets, not that an ethical lawyer would act as an agent for the interests of someone besides his declared client.


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