A Columbia attorney got off on the wrong foot Wednesday by being more than an hour and a half late for a hearing in Circuit Court.
Judge Markley Dennis was clearly peeved by her tardiness and then threatened to jail the attorney when she proceeded in a manner he called unprofessional, irrelevant and sarcastic.
Kate Landess, who sought the hearing, is asking Dennis to throw out the 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 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 cellphone. 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 sounds just before the officer grabbed it, saying, “Give it to me.”
After the hearing, Dennis told Glidden cellphones in court are prohibited. “You were in contempt of court when that phone went off for the first time,” the judge said. “I have placed someone in jail for that.”
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 she’d only last night 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’s 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 will ponder whether to “impose sanctions.”
The only witness to testify was Stanley Garland, special agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. Responding to questions from Assistant Solicitor Greg Voigt and Landess, Garland recalled some but not all details 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 Wednesday, the confession itself was never discussed, and Dennis more than once pleaded with Landess to stop repeating questions and to get to 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.”
Asked which statements her client made that Landess wants omitted, the attorney 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.”