Mayor has new lawyer; court date is postponed

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Washougal Mayor Sean Guard’s scheduled Cowlitz County court hearing to determine whether his trial for allegedly impersonating a police officer would happen this month was postponed Thursday.

Cowlitz County Prosecutor’s Office hired Guard’s attorney, Luka Vitasovic, necessitating the delay of Guard’s court date Thursday, the mayor wrote in an email. Guard’s new attorney is Aaron Bartlett, according to Cowlitz County court records.

Guard entered a not-guilty plea July 11 to a charge of second-degree criminal impersonation for allegedly using the emergency lights on his city-owned vehicle to get past slower traffic on Dec. 24, 2010, on Interstate 5 near Kelso.

Guard’s jury trial is scheduled for Sept. 23. It is unclear now whether his trial date will be delayed due to the postponement of Thursday’s hearing.

Guard’s case is being heard by Judge Ed Putka. Previously, Guard’s attorney, Vitasovic, filed an “affidavit of prejudice” against Judge Davis Kass asking for him to be removed. The affidavit did not list a reason for the request, nor did it need to, said Cowlitz County court administrator Delaura Wirkkala.

Asked why the judge was removed, Guard responded in an email that he had deferred to Vitasovic, who would be better to answer the question.