Constitutional Law

Difficult defendant ordered to represent himself after alleged BB gun threat to his latest lawyers

A Maine man accused of robbing a gas station has been ordered to represent himself at his trial this month after his fourth and fifth lawyers sought to withdraw.

Judge Thomas Warren of Portland said last month that Joshua Nisbet had forfeited his right to counsel because of threats to his lawyers and other bad behavior, the Portland Press Herald reports. Two new lawyers were appointed, however, to assist Nisbet on a standby basis.

Nisbet’s fouth and fifth lawyers, Jon Gale and Neale Duffett, sought to withdraw because of Nisbet’s alleged threat to their eyesight during a Feb. 26 meeting at the Cumberland County Jail, the story says. They allege Nisbet told them, “I don’t care if I get 15 years, when I get out, I will be outside your house with a high-powered BB gun and I will take your eye out. I’m not getting life. I’ll never forget. I’m coming after you when I get out.”

Nisbet tells the newspaper he never threatened his lawyers and they made up the story because he wouldn’t plead guilty. He also was angry because his lawyers made him undergo an evaluation to see if he was competent for trial. “Their play was to make it look like I was difficult, to make it look like I was crazy,” he said.

Nisbet claims a police conspiracy against him that includes forged documents and hidden documents. He has enlisted the aid of a former private investigator accused of secretly videotaping people who paid to have sex with a Zumba instructor. The former private eye, Mark Strong, was convicted of promoting prostitution last year.

Though Nisbet’s neck tattoo resembles a tattoo on the suspect in a gas station videotape, Nisbet says he wasn’t the robber.

“But hypothetically, let’s say that had been me—and I’m not saying it was, I’m saying it wasn’t,” Nisbet told the newspaper. “But let’s say for some reason that it had been. Would that justify them in falsifying documents and changing paperwork and making videotapes disappear? Kidnapping people and bringing them down dirt roads at gunpoint to ask them questions?”

Jury selection in Nisbet’s case is scheduled to begin on Monday. He has been jailed for three years as he awaits trial.

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