The entire Salt Lake County Legal Defenders Association (LDA) is not disqualified from providing legal assistance to a man charged with killing a corrections officer, a judge ruled Friday.
However, other LDA employees should be appointed to replace the three working on the case who had had a personal relationship with prison guard Stephen Anderson, 3rd District Judge Deno Himonas stated in court.
The agency had petitioned the court to have the entire LDA staff disqualified because many of its workers knew or were close friends with Anderson, who was shot to death June 25, 2007. In addition, communication within the office might pose a potential conflict of interest, according to the agency.
But the judge disagreed and ruled from the bench that LDA attorneys who had only a "nodding acquaintance" with Anderson could legally handle the case.
Curtis Michael Allgier, 28, is charged with aggravated murder after prosecutors say he shot Anderson with his own gun in a hospital room after Allgier had been transported there from prison for medical tests.
Salt Lake County District Attorney Lohra Miller has publicly stated that her office will seek the death penalty if Allgier is convicted.
Allgier's next court hearing is a July 11 scheduling conference to set a preliminary hearing.In addition, Himonas noted that he had received a letter from a source not named in open court. The judge put the letter in Allgier's case file, but sealed it from public view. Media attorneys have the option of petitioning the court to unseal the letter. A review hearing is set for Aug. 22.
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