Criminal Justice

Defendant Loses Right to a Lawyer After Allegedly Stabbing 3 of Them with Pencils or Pens in Court


Updated: A man has been convicted of drug charges after a judge in Washington state declared that pencil-and-pen-packing defendant Joshua Monson forfeited his right to counsel because of three attacks on his lawyers during court hearings.

None of the lawyers was seriously hurt. In the first two incidents, which occurred less than a week apart, Monson was accused of stabbing two different lawyers with pencils he smuggled from jail, HeraldNet.com reports. On Tuesday, Monson grabbed the pen being used by his defense lawyer, Jesse Cantor of Everett, Wash., and stabbed Cantor in the head, witnesses said.

The attack occurred Tuesday as prosecutors gave opening statements in Monson’s felony drug trial in Snohomish County. Corrections officers set off an electric stun cuff on Monson’s leg as he lunged for the pen and then piled on top of him, the story says. The first person to reach Monson was a police officer seated at the prosecution table.

Judge David Kurtz said Monson would have to defend himself without a lawyer and would be strapped to a special chair for the rest of the trial. Kurtz advised jurors to ignore the incident, the restraints and the lawyer’s absence.

HeraldNet.com reported that Monson was convicted of drug possession Thursday while in the restraint chair. “A standby defense attorney from King County sat through the hearings to answer Monson’s legal questions,” HeraldNet.com wrote. Monson was not allowed to sign court documents with a pen or pencil.

HeraldNet.com also notes that Monson will be back in court again to face second-degree murder charges and, separately, two fourth-degree assault charges for the alleged attacks on his attorneys.

Updated Nov. 4 to report that Monson was convicted.

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