Reckless homicide suspect tries to represent himself
David W. Givhan, 24, has handwritten on notebook paper a motion to suppress evidence, a motion to dismiss his case and a motion for disclosure of evidence.
The motions are well written, cite precedent case law and have neat penmanship.
"You have written extensively, and I do understand the issues that you raised in your motions," Judge Kenneth Forbeck told Givhan on Tuesday in Rock County Court. "We're going to have a hearing."
Givhan is charged with felony first-degree reckless homicide on suspicion he sold heroin in Beloit to Luc A. Marsh, 29, on March 31, 2009. Marsh later was found dead from an overdose in a bathroom at the Edgerton hospital where he worked.
Despite facing long-term prison time, Givhan also filed a motion to represent himself. He later withdrew that motion after meeting with his attorney, Jack Hoag, who took the case for the public defender's office.
Anthony Kraujalis, a Janesville attorney and Rock County Bar Association president, said jail inmates have access to a legal library and many of the same materials attorneys use.
Kraujalis said he doesn't see criminal defendants represent themselves or file motions very often, although it does happen. He said some inmates in the jail could be savvy with writing motions and help others.
"I don't know how often this is happening. It tends to ebb and flow with who is in the jail at the time," Kraujalis said. "Unless it's silly and a repeated silly, the judges will consider (the motions). If there are appropriate facts and law that apply, you can do it."
Tim Lindau, a Janesville attorney and bar association vice president, said many clients represent themselves in foreclosure and collections cases.
"I'll be honest with you-it's a problem-because they don't know what they're doing," he said. "It adds to the expense of litigation."
Lindau said people representing themselves in civil cases often don't follow procedure and lack knowledge of the law. He said defendants in criminal cases would be foolish to represent themselves.
In Givhan's case, he has some experience with the law. He has previous convictions for armed robbery and possession of marijuana.
Givhan's motions will be argued at a hearing that hasn't been scheduled.
Givhan was arrested after phone records and text messages led investigators to people involved in the heroin deal, according to the criminal complaint. Witnesses of the heroin buy then cooperated with investigators.
Givhan was charged about 15 months after Marsh's death. He remains jailed on a $100,000 bond.
A jury trial is scheduled for March 7.
Last updated: 4:06 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012