By JOSH NEWTON
A Tahlequah attorney on Thursday was allowed to withdraw as defense counsel for a man accused of performing lewd acts to a child.
Attorney Jerry Moore has represented James “Jim” Neill Lindsey since Lindsey was formally charged in January 2012. But Moore in April filed a motion to withdraw as Lindsey’s counsel.
Lindsey later filed an objection to Moore’s request, saying he had paid Moore 80 percent of the agreed-upon fees to take the case through jury trial.
Prosecutors also objected and said Moore’s withdrawal would slow the judicial process and halt the alleged victim’s desire to move on with her life.
Moore, Lindsey and prosecutors argued their cases in front of District Judge Darrell Shepherd Thursday.
Shepherd asked Moore to provide a reason for asking to withdraw, but Moore insisted he didn’t want to say anything that would hurt his client. Instead, Moore said he felt as though his request was being made properly under state law, because he had notified both his client and state prosecutors before filing the motion.
Lindsey told Shepherd he was “shocked” and “shaken” by Moore’s request, and felt he had been misled by the attorney, whom Lindsey claimed “never really had the intention” of defending him through trial.
“I literally feel like a bride that’s been left at the altar,” Lindsey said.
Assistant District Attorney Marena Doolittle told Shepherd she observed Moore during Lindsey’s preliminary hearing last year, and she felt Moore “represented his client well.” Prosecutors said their main concern is the alleged victim in the case, and how postponing the trial could affect her.
Lindsey told Shepherd if Moore was allowed to withdraw, he would not have time to hire a new attorney and prepare to face a jury by the scheduled May 20 trial. He also asked the judge to order Moore to refund the fees Lindsey has paid the attorney so far.
Shepherd asked Moore and Lindsey to talk with each other outside of the courtroom – though the judge acknowledged it would be “really uncomfortable” – and to try reaching some sort of agreement. Lindsey said he and Moore had not spoken since April, when Moore called to tell Lindsey he was asking to withdraw.
After several minutes outside the courtroom, Lindsey and Moore emerged, and Shepherd allowed Moore to withdraw. He also postponed Lindsey’s scheduled jury trial to allow Lindsey and a new defense attorney time to prepare.
After May’s two-week jury docket, the next scheduled trial docket will be in September.