A defense attorney's efforts to get her client - a convicted rapist - released from jail and admitted into a substance-abuse program is causing some concern among program officials.
Nancy Bergeson was severely chastised for her efforts by 3rd District Judge Homer Wilkinson. Bergeson, an attorney for the Legal Defenders Association, refused comment.Her actions, however, not only infuriated a judge, but caused at least one alcohol-recovery program to put up a red flag when dealing with the Legal Defenders Association.
Eight days after Roy Hall was convicted of raping a 14-year-old paraplegic girl, Bergeson asked Wilkinson to allow Hall to be released to the Indian Alcoholism Counseling and Recovery House Program before sentencing, which was scheduled for last Friday but was postponed until Dec. 2.
The judge, assured that Hall would not be allowed to roam the streets freely, granted the motion.
But Bergeson said she realized later that she had misstated the program's name. It was the Salvation Army that her client was bound for, not the Indian Alcoholism program. She had Wilkinson's clerk amend the order. Neither she nor the clerk told the judge about the change.
During Monday's hearing, Wilkinson was angry that he wasn't consulted about the change and called Bergeson's actions "unethical, contemptuous and below the standard of performance" expected in his courtroom. Further, Wilkinson said he knows nothing about the Salvation Army program.
Jerry Miller, director of the Salvation Army program, said his program is not designed for pretrial defendants or convicted felons.
"It's certainly not for the violent offender," Miller said. "I don't have the resources or the staff to have that type of offender."
Miller, who said Hall was a model participant in the program, said he was surprised and distressed to learn over the weekend that Hall was a convicted rapist.
"I'm very concerned about how this case was handled. I won't say who's fault it was. But it wasn't Pretrial Services' fault. It wasn't the media's fault. It wasn't the judge's fault.
"We will be watching more closely how the Legal Defenders office sends clients to us."
Dennis Taylor, director of the Indian Alcoholism program _ the one Wilkinson agreed to send Hall to _ said Hall probably would not have been accepted there either.
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