Feathered Bastard

Judge Allows Ex-Minuteman Leader Chris Simcox to Represent Self, Trial Reset for March 16

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Additionally, Simcox will be able to cross-examine other witnesses, such as a little girl whom he allegedly bribed with candy to see her panties, and his grown daughter by another marriage, who alleges Simcox touched her inappropriately when she was a teenager.

Oddly, none of these issues was discussed at Monday's status conference.

Following the hearing, I asked MCAO spokesman Jerry Cobb what the county attorney could do to protect these children from being cross-examined by the man who allegedly violated them.

See also: -Alleged Child Molester Chris Simcox Representing Self at March 2 Trial

"While I can't share specific trial strategy in advance of the proceedings," Cobb wrote via e-mail. "I can tell you we will do whatever is necessary to honor the victims' right to be treated with fairness, respect, and dignity, and to be free from intimidation, harassment, and abuse throughout the process."

Most local ex-prosecutors I've spoken with were unaware of any case in Arizona in which an accused child molester has represented himself or herself.

One suggested that a child might be shielded from the defendant by a curtain or asked questions via closed-circuit TV or from someone else.

But Phoenix defense attorney Tracey Westerhausen, whose expertise in dealing with sex crime cases is such that she's instructed police detectives on the topic, tells me that any attempt to shield the victim could violate the defendant's right to face his or her accuser in court.

"Under the federal and state constitutions, a defendant has the right to confront and cross-examine the witnesses against him," she explained.

Also, a judge is supposed to be impartial and not comment on the evidence. Allowing the children to be shielded in some way would suggest that the court finds the children more credible than the defendant.

Westerhausen pointed out that Ricky Wassenar, one of the inmates who took two guards hostage in 2004 at an Arizona prison, represented himself in court and cross-examined a female guard whom he had raped during the standoff.

Ultimately, Wassenar was convicted on 19 separate counts, and was sentenced to 16 consecutive life sentences.

But in that case, at least the victim was an adult.

"I am not aware of any cases where a child molestation case has gone to trial, and the defendant represents himself or herself," Westerhausen said.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons