Trials & Litigation

Judge denies mistrial after man decks his attorney, says that would put 'target' on lawyers' backs

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After Lance Franklin decked his defense lawyer on Thursday, right in front of the jury during a Topeka, Kansas, rape trial, Judge Marc Braun held him in contempt and sentenced him to 180 days.

But Braun denied a defense motion for a mistrial Friday in the Shawnee County district court case, saying that to do so would “essentially put a target on any defense attorney’s back” and encourage other defendants to attack their counsel, reports the Topeka Capital-Journal. The trial is now scheduled to resume, before the same jury, in mid-February.

It’s not clear from news coverage whether Braun is going to grant a motion by the Tenopir and Huerter law firm to withdraw from representing Franklin after the attack on associate David McDonald. Two other Tenopir and Huerter lawyers stood in for him in the Friday court hearing.

The rape trial was in its fourth day and McDonald had just finished questioning a prosecution witness when Frankin punched him in the head, an earlier Capital-Journal article reports.

The defendant is six-feet, three-inches tall and weighs at least 260 pounds, according to jail records. McDonald is several inches shorter and weighs about 170 pounds.

Assistant district attorney Mike Kagay told the newspaper he heard a smack and a collective gasp in the courtroom. The defense lawyer landed on the floor next to his own chair, apparently unconcious.

Witnesses said McDonald’s head was bleeding and an obvious swelling could be seen as he was transported to the hospital by ambulance.

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