Will this satisfy critics of the attorney who took Bryan Kohberger‘s case?
For those who don’t know, the man accused of brutally murdering four University of Idaho students in that shocking November massacre was assigned a public defender named Anne Taylor. The assignment almost immediately caused a swell of controversy — as it came to light the lawyer had also represented three different parents of the murder victims!
As the chief counsel in the Kootenai County Public Defender’s Office, she previously represented Maddie Mogen’s father and stepmother on drug charges. And she was even representing Xana Kernodle’s mother Cara, also for a drug arrest, right up until the murder case came in. She had to hand that case over to someone else in order to represent Kohberger — after all, it would be something of a conflict of interest to represent an accused murderer AND a parent of the victim at the same time.
But, uh, why wasn’t it a conflict of interest already? Why didn’t they get another public defender?? One big reason is that Taylor is one of only 13 public defenders in the entire state approved to handle capital cases — ones where prosecutors may seek the death penalty. Hence why she would have been chosen. But what about the conflict? All we knew before was that she had a behind-closed-doors meeting with the judge in the case, Megan E. Marshall.
Well, now we finally know what was said in the secret hearing that got her cleared to step in!
NewsNation‘s Brian Entin got hold of the court transcripts, and it turns out it wasn’t just Taylor and Judge Marshall. This was a full hearing with both attorneys AND Kohberger in attendance, held back on January 27. It began with the court stating that conflicts of interest were handled on a case-by-case basis, and it was usually up to the attorney and client if they felt comfortable proceeding.
Taylor explained her argument as to why this was not a conflict. She explained that as head of the Kootenai County Public Defender’s Office, her name was on every document at the office — but that didn’t necessarily mean she had personally represented the client. When it came to Cara Kernodle, she said, there were actually two cases, one from 2017 and one from 2022. The 2022 felony drug case, she pointed out, was never actually assigned to her specifically. As for the 2017 case, she explained that the lawyer who had worked that case had ended up leaving the public defender’s office, so it had de facto become hers as head of the office — “her practice is to transfer all cases that are pending withdrawal” to herself . However, she said, that was a formality, and she “had no contact or relationship with Ms. Kernodle, and has not met with her or provided any legal advice.” She further noted “most of what the media is reporting” on the cases was “untrue.”
What about Cara Kernodle saying she felt betrayed? She told NewsNation‘s Ashleigh Banfield in a TV interview:
“I am heartbroken because I trusted her. She pretended that she was wanting to help me. And to find that out, that she’s representing him, I can’t even convey how betrayed I feel.”
If Taylor never met this woman, then everything in that quote would be bull. So either one of these two is lying, or the mom is misremembering who exactly her attorney was. Hmm.
As for the legality, Taylor also pointed out she discussed the matter with the prosecutor’s office and the Idaho State Bar, and everyone had determined that it was all fine. Ultimately the judge checked with prosecutor Ashley Jennings and with the defendant. Both said it was fine with them; Kohberger explicitly agreed he wished to continue with Taylor as his attorney. Huh.
Oddly, there was no mention of Maddie Mogen’s parents.
What do YOU think of the latest developments? Does it satisfy YOU, Perezcious paralegals?
P.S. It’s inneresting that the judge, the prosecutor, and the defender are all women here. Considering Kohberger’s apparent feelings about women, one might assume it must drive him up the wall that his fate is entirely in female hands.
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