Friday, February 27, 2009

Judge says 'no' to pro se wannabe

Ely gets an attorney whether she wants one or not

Express Staff Writer

Lori Monique Ely (aka Lori Brutsche-Ely)

Lori Monique Ely, a woman accused of battering local peace offers, wanted to go pro se but Judge Barry Wood said "no" and told her to stick with her assigned public defender.

"You are charged with multiple serious offenses," Wood told Ely. "If you want a fair trial you need legal counsel."

Ely, also known as Lori Brutsche-Ely, appeared in 5th District Court in Hailey on Tuesday afternoon to ask Wood if she could go pro se, that is represent herself, in criminal proceedings against her in Blaine County.

"I feel like I have to represent myself to get a fair trial," Ely said. "I don't want to do this by myself, but I want a fair trial."

Ely earlier rejected the services of Hailey attorney Douglas Werth, the first public defender assigned to the case, who was allowed to withdraw.

"I fired him," said Ely, without explaining why she was dissatisfied with Werth, other than to say she didn't think he was conducting proper discovery.

"I've hired by own private investigator," she said, adding that she would prefer the services of Hailey attorney Michael Kraynick, who has represented her before but won't now because she owes him money. Kraynick does not currently have a contract with Blaine County for public defender services.

Ketchum attorney Dan Dolan, who does have a public defender contract, has now been assigned to the case.

Ely, a 42-year-old former Blaine County resident who now lives in Twin Falls, is charged with eight crimes—five of them felonies—for an alleged rampage last Halloween night that started at the Mint Nightclub in Hailey and ended at the Blaine County jail. Charges include four felony counts of battering police officers, a felony count of "injuring jails" and single misdemeanor charges of battery, malicious injury to property and indecent exposure.

Ely received national publicity when a story in the Idaho Mountain Express, including a booking photo of her apparently snarling at the camera, was picked up and distributed by The Associated Press.

She is now free on $25,000 bond and awaiting a jury trial scheduled for April 7.

Ely told Wood in court that she has a college education, has studied up on the law and feels capable of representing herself. She even brought her résumé to court, but Wood declined to look at it. Instead, he advised Ely why it would be a good idea to have an attorney.

"You understand that a lawyer will argue in your defense," Wood said. "You understand that you will not receive any special treatment from the court because you're representing yourself."

The judge further advised Ely that she would be expected to follow the same rules as an attorney and that she would not have access to the Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney's Office such as an attorney would have.

"Do you understand that if you become disruptive in court that the court can have you removed and appoint you an attorney?" Wood asked. "Your chances of getting a fair trial are much better if you have Mr. Dolan represent you."

Terry Smith:

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