Wednesday, December 10, 1997

Lawyer lax, Harmon tells court

Jailed ex-prosecutor asks for new attorney


Former Prosecuting Attorney Dan Harmon of Benton told a federal judge about his dissatisfaction with his defense attorney in a handwritten letter filed Tuesday at the federal courthouse in Little Rock.
    "I do not want to cause her any embarrassment but I'm locked in a concrete closet 23 hours a day and have questions to ask of her to see if and when the sentencing will be and if there is any preparation that needs to be done," Harmon wrote of his defense attorney Lea Ellen Fowler.
    In his letter, Harmon claimed that Fowler's secretary hangs up on him when he calls and his letters to her go unanswered.
    Chief U.S. District Judge Stephen M. Reasoner ordered Harmon's letter filed as a motion for a new attorney.
    In the letter, Harmon requests that lawyer Bruce Eddy be appointed to assist Fowler, which resulted in Reasoner asking Eddy to respond whether he is willing to accept appointment. Eddy almost became Harmon's attorney last spring but stepped aside because of a conflict, which Harmon insists has been resolved.
    On Tuesday, Fowler said she had no comment about Harmon's letter. Eddy, who has recently taken a position with the state's Public Defender Commission, said he is willing to help Harmon but uncertain if he can because of his new job.
    Harmon has been in the Pulaski County jail since his Oct. 4 arrest after allegedly trying to bring methamphetamine to a girlfriend's Conway apartment while on home detention with electronic monitoring for earlier convictions. He was indicted on four drug charges related to the Conway incident Oct. 15.
    But Harmon, who served as prosecuting attorney for the 7th Judicial District from 1990 through 1996, is also awaiting sentencing by Reasoner on five charges that he was convicted of in June. Those charges are racketeering, three counts of attempting to commit extortion and one count of possession with the intent to distribute marijuana.
    "I am very much dissatisfied with my attorney," Harmon wrote in his handwritten missive. "Since my stay began in the Pulaski County jail, I have had one brief conversation with her at the courthouse at the time of my arraignment. It is now nine weeks."
    Harmon also used the letter to complain about jail conditions, including the deteriorating condition of his teeth. Harmon said that before his arrest he had planned to have oral surgery and that he has lost two fillings during his incarceration.
    At the bottom of the letter, Harmon also notes: "Protective custody is a euphemism for solitary confinement."

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