The July 20 Columbian story “Lawyer’s relationship puts murder case on hold” reported the case of Dennis Wolter (charged with aggravated murder) and Judge Robert Lewis holding the case until another defense attorney represents Wolter. A romantic relationship between the former defense attorney, Bob Yoseph, and Vancouver police Officer Jane Easter is the current issue. The scarcity of defense attorneys designated by the state Supreme Court to handle potential death penalty cases is the reason for potential continuation with Yoseph. This considered exception must not go against the U.S. Constitution, stating participants in court cases cannot be familiar with any persons involved in individual cases.
The case being halted to seek another attorney due to potential consequence of the defendant discovering reason to appeal should Wolter be convicted is judicious. If Wolter were given opportunity to appeal, he could claim Yoseph was flexible with witnesses, referring to Easter. Also, there’s the risk of Easter providing confidential details about the defense’s approach to the case.
Judge Lewis is taking the outcomes into consideration, which is highly necessary involving an elevated punishment circumstance.
To ignore the U.S. Constitution is unjust, and until another state Supreme Court-designated attorney is found to represent Wolter, the case must not proceed.