In a surprise move announced before Judge Patrick Murphy in the 11th Judicial District Court on Thursday, Sept. 14, Defense Attorney Ernie Márquez announced that his client Herbert Scott had decided to be represented by a public defender and announced a motion to withdraw from the case.
Scott, charged with several counts of sexual assault, was on trial in the first case (CR 202227) of sexual assault in late August, which resulted in a mistrial when the jury couldn’t agree on the verdicts for the two charges in that case.
This shift caused Murphy to ask the District Attorney’s office to confirm whether or not the DA’s office intended to reset the trial, which they confirmed. A discussion ensued regarding the interpretation of the 90-day statutes for speedy trials, and exactly when that 90 days timeframe began.
Márquez said he thought it began with the date of the end of the trial “I believe that is Oct. 4.” The DA’s office said it was within 90 days of the client’s request and everyone acknowledged that the client’s request to shift his defense attorney constituted a delay brought on by the defendant, not the court.
“The motion to withdraw is the elephant in the room,” said Murphy. “Mr. Márquez has been asked by the defendant to not represent him anymore,” adding that this included all the pending sex assault cases, not just the first one. He pointed out that the requests would seem to be identical. “If the defendant is asking for a speedy trial, that’s 90 days…”
“Mr. Scott is going to be asked to be represented by a public defender or a court-appointed lawyer,” confirmed Márquez. ” I have the application in my office.”
“First, I need the completed application so I can review it to get through the first question – does Mr. Scott qualify for a court-appointed counsel,” said Murphy. “The second issue is whether their office could represent Mr. Scott. I’m not sure they can and we won’t know today.”
The judge set a 10:15 a.m. Tuesday, September 20 session to address the issue of a court-appointed counsel and who that will be.
The District Attorney’s Office pointed out that there were two alternate arguments for delay caused by the defendant; by requesting new counsel that is a different delay but equally attributable to the defendant.”