Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Joseph Fleming Porter. Credit: Davis County Jail
Federal court judge gives Utah defendant an earful

Man is told “where you’ve done something wrong ... you’ll lose.”

First Published Sep 28 2012 07:52 pm • Last Updated Jan 07 2013 11:32 pm

Joseph F. Porter may have learned more about the federal justice system than he wanted to know after he asked a magistrate judge this week to assign him a new attorney.

The request sparked a pointed speech from U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Paul Warner about defendants’ odds of prevailing in criminal court cases.

Photos
Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

"If you take a case to trial, where you’ve done something wrong ... you’ll lose," Warner told Porter. "That’s how it works. Ninety-five percent of the time, they lose. Maybe 98 percent of the time, they lose. You know why they lose? Because they’re guilty."

A grand jury indicted Porter earlier this year for bank fraud and mail theft, and he is awaiting trial in the Davis County jail.

Porter wrote a letter to the court asking for a hearing to address his representation, saying there had been a "complete breakdown in communication and irreconcilable differences" with attorney Robert Steele, who works for the Federal Defender’s Office.

"I feel I can’t trust any lawyer out of the federal defender," Porter wrote. He said Steele represented him and lost a 2007 case involving a firearm.

Porter is now being prosecuted for allegedly taking checks from someone else’s mail and depositing them in his bank account.

The request landed in Warner’s courtroom, and what follows is from an audio recording from the Tuesday hearing.

Steele told Warner that Porter wanted new counsel because he was "very concerned" about the prior lost case.

"There’s no personal animosity at all, but he’s just worried about that," Steele said.


story continues below
story continues below

Warner then explained to Porter that no one likes to lose, although "it’s possible for even the best [attorneys] to lose."

"More often than not, unless you have the facts, you’re not going to win the case," Warner added. "It’s just that simple."

But Porter was unswayed.

"I feel that I want another lawyer," he told Warner. "If I’m going to go all the way here, I’d rather have a different lawyer to go all the way with. I don’t want to lose twice with the same lawyer."

That vexed the judge.

"I’m going to give you a new lawyer, Mr. Porter," Warner told him. "But let me explain something to you. You don’t deserve one.

"No?" Porter asked. "Why is that?"

Warner said it was a "great" question.

"I said you don’t deserve a new lawyer, he’s fine, he’s competent, he’s doing the job," Warner said of Steele. "The fact that he lost a case doesn’t mean a thing. ... It has a lot more to do with the facts and what you did than what he could do to help you."

Warner said Steele was one of the most competent, hardworking, ethical and caring defenders in town.

"You were fortunate to have him, even if you lost," the judge said. "He didn’t lose, you did."

Next Page >


Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Login to the Electronic Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.