SHERIDAN — Judge John Fenn said roadblocks stalling Jeremy Herrera’s case are threefold: an attorney, competency and bond. Compounded together, these considerations continue to prolong Herrera’s case in 4th Judicial District Court.
Herrera appeared in court Thursday to discuss a competency evaluation, which was submitted to the court from the Wyoming State Hospital Feb. 5. The evaluation indicates Herrera is competent to proceed in court.
Herrera said he thought the hearing was set to address potential bond modification after he sent a letter to the court requesting a reduced bond.
Defense attorney Greg Goddard pleaded with the court to allow him to withdraw from the case, though Fenn denied the request until alternate counsel is arranged. Goddard filed a motion to withdraw as Herrera’s attorney Jan. 24.
Herrera said he and Goddard have “irreconcilable differences.”
Fenn described Herrera’s situation as a “rock and a hard place,” and originally claimed he felt comfortable with Herrera making decisions about legal counsel despite uncertainty about his competency — though he wavered as court proceedings continued.
Sheridan County Prosecuting Attorney Dianna Bennett said she never doubted Herrera’s competency to proceed in court and asked Fenn to accept the results of the evaluation. Bennett claimed apart from the State Hospital evaluation, all other delays have been a result of Herrera’s behavior. He frequently passes blame on others for his situation, she said.
Bennett clarified the harsher conditions and considerations imposed on Herrera are the result of several pending circuit and district court cases, not only the current case before the court for spinning “cookies” in a vehicle causing bodily injury. Additional charges include interference with a peace officer and aggravated assault on a corrections officer.
Herrera appeared to be considering Clay Jenkins as alternative counsel. Jenkins appeared in court on behalf of another client, who is seeking the money to post Herrera’s bond. Herrera has been incarcerated at the Sheridan County Detention Center for about 21 weeks while questions about his capacity to participate in court proceedings were argued. Jenkins said he is not prepared to confirm if he will become Herrera’s attorney, pending financial conditions that need to be met beforehand.
Goddard said the reasons he wishes to withdraw as Herrera’s attorney include general distress, accusations that he had come to court drunk, distrust and Herrera’s intention to file a disciplinary complaint against him. Herrera said he hadn’t filed the paperwork for a public defender yet because he didn’t want to be assigned one particular defense attorney.
Still, Fenn suggested Herrera elect to be represented by a public defender because of his financial limitations.
“Your case has become procedurally complicated,” Fenn told Herrera.
Herrera said he is concerned the competency evaluation — which was completed over a six-hour period — neglects his 10-year history of mental illness.
Fenn said he wants legal counsel arranged before any other problems are addressed for that very reason.
Fenn said he “feels for” Herrera’s frustrations with the process that continues to extend the timeline of his case and has kept him in jail — but in the end, the complicated court process is for Herrera’s benefit, Fenn said.
Herrera said both Goddard’s and Bennett’s statements unfairly degraded his character by mixing inaccuracies with truth and muddying the water in his case. Fenn apologized to Herrera for confusion during the court process and said once Herrera finds another attorney, a hearing to discuss competency officially will be scheduled within one to two weeks.