Former Buncombe County Sheriff Bobby Medford‘s court-appointed attorney, Stephen Lindsay of Asheville, has wasted no time trying to get his client released from the Caldwell County Jail while awaiting trial on federal extortion charges.
Federal Judge Dennis Howell appointed Lindsay to defend Medford on Jan. 7, and the attorney immediately asked the court to consider measures that might allow for Medford’s release before his trial in March. Wearing the navy-blue jump suit of a jail inmate, Medford remained silent throughout the hearing.
Lindsay asked Howell to have Probation Services analyze Medford’s apartment to see if it would be suitable for electronic monitoring. The lawyer also asked the court to consider appointing a third-party custodian—a “trusted member of the community,” in Lindsay’s words—who could check up on Medford and vouch for his conduct until his trial.
In Howell’s original ruling on Dec. 17, he wrote, “There are serious concerns for the safety of potential witnesses” if Medford were released before trial.
Citing Medford’s experience as a law-enforcement officer, including his firearms training and his ability “to identify and locate potential witnesses,” Howell noted, “These skills would certainly be of use to this defendant in obstructing justice and the trial process in this matter.”
Court documents also show that Howell believed Medford had “what appears to be an addiction to powerful prescription pain relievers” and that his physical disabilities “would not prevent the defendant from obstructing or attempting to obstruct justice.”
Howell appointed Lindsay after finding that Medford’s longtime attorney, Bob Long, would face a conflict of interest if he continued to defend the former sheriff. The judge did not reveal the nature of the conflict of interest, which was mentioned during an earlier hearing. Long is also representing Weaverville businessman Jackie Shepherd, who was charged with running an illegal video-poker operation at the same time Medford was charged.
After analyzing Medford’s financial situation, Howell said he qualified for a court-appointed attorney but would be charged $750 a month for Lindsay’s services.
At press time, Judge Thomas Ellis was slated to hear Medford’s appeal on Jan. 15. Howell agreed to have the analysis conducted and the requests passed along to Ellis.
For the results of Bobby Medford’s appeal, check www.mountainx.com/news. For the full text of documents relating to the Medford case, visit www.mountainx.com/xpressfiles.