MINOT, N.D. – Several high profile court cases we’ve been following are likely headed for trial this summer.
While the court dates are still a few months away, some in custody said they are considering defending themselves.
Bradley Morales is preparing for his second trial on a murder charge in Minot. Chad Isaak is facing a trial in the Mandan RJR quadruple homicide.
Over the past month, each man has said they’re at least considering representing themselves. “The state has 108 jail standards and one of those jail standards is what may or shall be provided to inmates if they represent themselves,” said Ward County Sheriff Bob Roed.
Inmates are required to have access to basic legal materials in jail, and the Ward County Jail provides the Lexus/Nexxus and a Fast Case computer based law library.
“All prisoners are allowed access to the Law Library. They’re brought to a room and they’re able to just use the computer and look up whatever research they need to do there,” said Roed. State rules dictate that all correctional facilities must also allow attorney visits and unmonitored attorney phone calls.
They are also required to provide access to notary, mail and copying services. “A defendant who has been determined to be indigent under our guidelines as determined by the court is eligible for an attorney or services,” said Travis Finck, executive director of the North Dakota Commission on Legal Counsel for Indigents.
But paying for those services is a different matter.
The Commission on Legal Counsel for Indigents is a state agency providing legal counsel or assistance with expenses to provide a fair trial. “Witness fees things like that, any sort of expanses that are necessary for an adequate defense of an indigent person in the district court are the responsibilities of the commission,” said Fink.
Other eligible parties include anyone facing felony charges, juveniles or low-income parents among others. Isaak’s trial is currently scheduled for Aug. 2, and the Morales retrial is expected to begin Aug. 9.