No public defender for Frommer |

No public defender for Frommer

Joel Stonington
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” Peter Frommer plead the Fifth Amendment at a court hearing Tuesday and, hence, will not have public representation.

Tuesday’s hearing was held to determine if Frommer is indigent; however, he withdrew the application for a public defender when faced with taking the stand.

Tuesday, Tina Fang, director of the public defender’s office, entered a motion to withdraw Garth McCarty, the taxpayer-funded lawyer assigned to Frommer’s case. District Judge James Boyd said he would take the motion to withdraw under advisement so as to give Frommer enough time to find a lawyer.

Frommer is charged with more than two dozen fraud-related crimes and is expected to plead at an arraignment at 10:30 a.m. on Sept. 10.

When Fang took over as director of the public defender’s office in Glenwood Springs, she said she noticed some odd discrepancies and incomplete information on Frommer’s application for a public defender.

“If [Frommer] doesn’t qualify, we shouldn’t be representing him,” Fang said. “Garth and I are both public defenders because we are passionate about indigent defense.”

Prosecutor Gail Nichols pointed out that Frommer has been asking the court to travel a great deal, something that takes money.

Indeed, Frommer asked for permission to fly to New York for one day before the end of August, a request that was granted.

At a previous hearing, Judge Boyd suggested that since the case has progressed so much, the public defender might just have to bill Frommer for services. Fang took issue with that possibility and pleaded with Judge Boyd to disallow Frommer from the public defenders services if Frommer could not prove indigence.

Fang noted that the public defenders office is not set up for billing and that this case has already cost a great deal, including a $900 preliminary hearing transcript, not to mention the 10-hour preliminary hearing.

“We don’t have the resources to be representing people who don’t qualify,” Fang said.

At the end of the hearing, Frommer sought another delay in the arraignment; Nichols strenuously objected. Judge Boyd said he would give Frommer until October to get a lawyer, but would not give a continuance on the arraignment.

When asked if he was indigent, Frommer said, “I feel I am.”