Mark Redwine’s trial may be delayed or moved in coming weeks after the arrest of one of his public defenders on suspicion of assault and domestic violence.
Public defender Justin Bogan said Thursday that he and his co-counsel, John Moran, may be incapable of affording their client impartial legal counsel, an announcement that comes less than two months before Redwine’s scheduled murder trial.
Sixth Judicial District Court Judge Jeffery Wilson acknowledged this week that Redwine’s scheduled Sept. 17 trial may need to be moved out of La Plata County.
Wilson said he’s concerned publicity about Redwine’s case, Moran’s recent arrest and the time commitment required of jurors for a four-week trial may render the court unable to find a fair and impartial jury able to serve for a month. Moran did not appear Thursday in Wilson’s courtroom.
“We’ve had high-profile cases in the past, but not like this one,” Wilson said to Redwine during Thursday’s hourlong status conference.
Conflict of interest
Moran, 42, was arrested on suspicion of pushing his former girlfriend’s chair off a porch, causing her to fall to the ground, injure her arm and possibly hit her head, according to an arrest affidavit. He then sprayed her with a water hose to “make her stop screaming,” the report says.
Moran was allowed to post a personal recognizance bond, meaning he was released from La Plata County Jail on his word that he will appear for his scheduled court dates.
Bogan said his “mandate is to protect Mr. Redwine’s rights,” including his constitutional right to assistance of counsel and fair treatment through the judicial process. But in light of Moran’s arrest, he expressed concern about his and Moran’s ability to uphold Redwine’s constitutional rights for a fair trial.
The two have worked together for years in Durango’s public defender’s office, including almost two years investigating the Redwine case. The close working relationship in light of Moran’s arrest may raise a conflict of interest for Bogan by association, he said. It may also cast a negative light over Redwine’s case.
Wilson said he wants to hear from Moran himself before making a decision about any conflict of interest.
Other argumentsWilson did not order Moran or Bogan off Redwine’s case, suggesting he needs time to review arguments before making a decision. But beyond the defense’s argument, Wilson said he’s concerned about Moran’s ability to work on Redwine’s case given his personal situation.
Furthermore, defense attorneys would have to ask potential jurors about Moran’s case, which could cast a negative light on the defense and make it more difficult to find an impartial jury, Bogan said.
“I do have grave concerns about going forward with this trial on Sept. 17 in this district,” he said.
Wilson ordered Bogan to file a written motion to accompany his oral argument by Tuesday. The court gave prosecutors seven days to file a written response to the defense’s arguments and five days after that for defense counsel to reply.
It could be Aug. 13 before the judge has all the arguments to make decisions, just five weeks before the scheduled trial date.
“Time is of the essence and this situation is pressing,” Bogan said.
Trial in SeptemberIn the second half of the status conference Thursday, Wilson addressed prosecutors, who appeared by telephone, Bogan and Redwine as if the trial will start Sept. 17.
The judge plans to call four jury pools – which will be about 1,200 jury summons – in hopes of finding 50 people who are able and willing to serve on a jury for a four-week trial. Those jurors would be subject to questioning by defense and prosecuting attorneys until a 14-person jury can be selected, which includes two alternates.
Wilson said he hopes prosecutors and defense attorneys can agree on a jury within a week. If it’s clear to the judge that a jury cannot be selected by week’s end, he may revisit a defense argument to move Redwine’s trial out of Southwest Colorado.
Any defendant may ask the court to move a criminal trial to another judicial district for a number of reasons, all of which must show a reasonable likelihood that someone can’t get a fair trial.
Law enforcement arrested Redwine in 2017 in connection with the death of his 13-year-old son, Dylan. Prosecutors charged Redwine with second-degree murder and child abuse resulting in death in 2017. He’s being held in La Plata County Jail on a $750,000 bail and must come up with about $112,500 to secure pretrial release.
The 57-year-old faces 16 to 48 years in prison if convicted on either count.