Photo: (from left) Joshua Williams and Jordan Williams
Twenty-one-year-old twin brothers wound up in jail and a number of other defendants were grilled about why they had not taken time to see their court-appointed defense attorneys during a session of Baxter County Circuit Court Thursday.
Judge Gordon Webb was unhappy defendants are not taking advantage of the taxpayer-funded public defenders saying, “I am cracking down on this. People need to take this more seriously.” Judge Webb said defendants are ordered by the court to stay in regular contact with their public defender.
He said not staying in touch was a violation of the court orders that can lead to a person being held in contempt, which is punishable by jail time.
The judge said he hoped the actions taken Thursday “show we are serious about this.”
All of the defendants called before the bench Thursday had trials set for this week, but the lawyers assigned to them can’t effectively argue their cases, since they have seen their clients very few times, or not at all.
Judge Webb said cases frequently had to be continued because defendants had not communicated with their appointed attorneys. He said it was difficult to keep cases moving through the system when the schedule was disrupted because lawyer-client meetings had not taken place.
Most of those standing before the bench voiced various excuses as to why they had not made or kept appointments to see their public defender.
The reasons given by those called forward by Judge Webb included undergoing surgery, not being sure where the public defender office was, confusion over dates, believing an up-front payment was necessary before meetings could take place and being in a rehab program dealing with addictions.
Most of the reasons given by a majority of the defendants satisfied Judge Webb, but the excuse given by twin brothers Jordon and Joshua Williams of Mountain Home did not seem valid to him, and they were sent to jail for 10 days on a contempt of court charge.
Both brothers were also drug tested Thursday and were reported to be positive for having illegal substances in their system. Judge Webb said he had thought about setting aside the jail sentence for the twins, but he had decided against it when the drug test results became available. “You appeared before this court with drugs in your system, and that won’t be tolerated,” the judge said.
Jordan Williams said he had just been in the hospital and felt the positives he had gotten on the drug test were due to medications he had taken during his stay. Jordan Williams continued to argue until Judge Webb finally commented, “I’m done with you.”
The Williams brothers are charged with selling a vehicle they did not own for scrap in September last year.
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