Earlier this afternoon, federal judge Dennis Howell appointed Asheville attorney Stephen Lindsay to defend former Buncombe County Sheriff Bobby Medford from federal extortion charges. On Jan. 15, Lindsay will try to reverse Howell’s order that Medford remain in jail until his March trial.
Howell appointed Lindsay after he became concerned that Medford’s own attorney, Bobby Long, would be put in a conflict of interest if he continued to defend Medford. The nature of the conflict of interest, which was previously brought up in a Jan. 2 hearing, was not revealed by Howell. Though Long is also representing Weaverville businessman Jackie Shepherd, who was charged with running an illegal video poker operation at the same time Medford was chargede.
Lindsay requested that Howell have Probation Services analyze Medford’s apartment to see if it would be suitable for electronic monitoring and that the court consider appointing a third party custodian — a “trusted member of the community,” in Lindsay’s words, that could check up on Medford and vouch for his conduct until his trial. Howell said that after analyzing Medford’s financial situation, he qualified for a court-appointed attorney, but would be charged $750 a month for Lindsay’s services.
Howell said he would have the analysis conducted — and would pass the requests along to Judge Thomas Ellis, who will hear Medford’s appeal of his pre-trial detention on Jan. 15. Howell previously ruled that Medford would remain in jail until his trial because he feared that, if released, he might pose a danger to witnesses or try to obstruct justice.
Medford, wearing the navy blue jumpsuit of a Caldwell County prison inmate, remained silent throughout the hearing.
—David Forbes, staff writer