Judge threatens to jail attorney during confession suppression hearing
A circuit judge threatened to jail an attorney who was 100 minutes late for a hearing and then proceeded in a manner the judge termed unprofessional, irrelevant and sarcastic.
The hearing today in Judge Markley Dennis Jr.’s courtroom had been sought by Columbia attorney Kate Landess. She is asking the court to throw out a confession her client Konnie Glidden gave to cold-case investigators who charged Glidden with the 1992 kidnapping, murder and rape of sailor James Horton.
Landess maintains the confession was coerced. Dennis, who earlier in the day had conducted lengthy and dramatic court proceedings in which child molester Louis “Skip” Reville was sentenced, recessed the confession suppression hearing at 5 p.m.
Landess and the 9th Circuit Solicitor’s Office were told by Dennis to confer regarding any resumption.
Dennis then admonished Glidden over an earlier courtroom incident involving her cell phone. A security officer rose from his seat during the hearing and snatched a phone from Glidden, who was seated at the defense table. The phone made some sounds just before the officer grabbed it, saying, “Give it to me.”
After the hearing, Dennis told Glidden cell phones in court are prohibited.
“You were in contempt of court when that phone went off for the first time. I have placed someone in jail for that,” Dennis said.
After the hearing, Landess told reporters that Dennis is one of the judges she admires and respects the most. She said she is sincerely sorry she was late and that the hearing became so contentious. “Nobody was more humiliated than I was,” she said.
“I hope I can come back and redeem myself before the judge and more importantly redeem my client,” she added.
Landess, who drove from Columbia to Charleston for the hearing, said she called the solicitor’s office at 1:55 p.m. to say she’d be late. She said she should have informed the clerk of court of her whereabouts.
Dennis let Landess know immediately upon her arrival at 3:40 p.m. for the 2 p.m. hearing that he was not pleased.
“Nice of you to join us, Ms. Landess,” he said.
Landess told Dennis that she only last night had received some documents related to the case from the solicitor’s office, and that they included text files she could not open.
She said she had been trying to find help to open the files.
“Have you ever heard of picking up the telephone?” Dennis asked Landess, before telling her he would ponder “whether I should impose sanctions.”
The only witness to testify was Naval Criminal Investigative Service Special Agent Stanley Garland. Responding to questions from Assistant Solicitor Greg Voigt and Landess, Garland recalled some but not all deatails of interviews he conducted when investigators took a new look into Horton’s death. Authorities have said Glidden’s statements led to her arrest and implicated three other people in the beating, gang rape and killing of Horton in Berkeley County. His body was found Nov. 14, 1992.
Landess said her questions about the interviews of Glidden, and whether the sessions were recorded, are crucial to her challenge to the statements’ validity. But in almost 90 minutes of hearing today, the confession itself was never discussed, and Dennis more than once pleaded with Landess to stop repeating questions and to get relevant matters.
“You’re in deposition mode now,” Dennis told Landess at one time. “Go on to something we can talk about that is germane to what we are doing,” he said.
Asked which statements made by her client that she wanted omitted, Landess said, “All of them.” Dennis told her to be more specific. Landess said she wanted a telephone conversation her client had with a psychic in Michigan thrown out, and Dennis refused.
Minutes later, Dennis told Landess: “You are getting very close to spending some time somewhere else, and very close to violating your oath of professionalism.” Again displeased with the way the hearing continued, Dennis then declared, “We’ll take about a five minute break in the case because you are about to go to jail. Your sarcasm is oozing,” he said.