A recent Minnesota Supreme Court ruling in an Otter Tail County case has implications for the first-degree murder case against 82-year-old Delbert Huber of rural Paynesville.
Huber does not have a lawyer to represent him. He was denied a court-appointed public defender in Kandiyohi County District Court, and has not hired his own attorney.
The court has appointed stand-by counsel to answer procedural questions for Huber, but not to represent him in the case.
In an order issued Tuesday, the West Central Tribune reports District Judge Michael Thompson ordered that Huber’s standby counsel consult with Huber regarding whether or not Huber wishes to have an evidentiary hearing regarding his forfeiture of legal counsel.
Thompson also ordered that Ramona Lackore, Huber’s standby counsel, and the prosecutor meet at 9 a.m. Friday with the judge to determine if Huber has requested a hearing and, if needed, set a date and time for that hearing.
Huber is currently scheduled for an August 9th omnibus hearing and a jury trial to start on September 4th.
He and his son were both indicted on first-degree murder charges for their roles in the October 8th, 2011, shooting death of Timothy Larson at a rural Belgrade residence.
Both Hubers face life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder. In his new order, Thompson cited the July 25th Supreme Court ruling in the case of Jeffrey Arthur Krause, who was convicted of drug and weapons charges when he represented himself in a jury trial. Krause had been appointed a public defense attorney, whom he allegedly threatened.
The Supreme Court remanded the case back to the district court for an evidentiary hearing regarding Krause’s forfeiture of counsel, which in his case was forfeited by his misconduct of threatening the attorney.
Thompson’s order notes that a hearing was conducted in December on whether Delbert Huber had waived his right to counsel, but at that hearing Huber was not assisted by counsel, was not given the opportunity to call and cross-examine witnesses and was not allowed to present his version of the matter. A new evidentiary hearing would give him those opportunities.
Lackore was appointed by Thompson as standby counsel for Huber in June. Her role is not to represent Huber as an attorney, but to advise him on the courtroom rules, procedures and decorum. However, Thompson’s order states that if Huber requests the new evidentiary hearing, Lackore will represent him at that hearing.