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Defense lawyers always have to stay sharp for their clients. That is, unless your client has a penchant for making his points with sharp objects.
For the third time this year, accused killer Joshua Monson stabbed his court-appointed lawyer at a hearing last week. The attorney, Jesse Cantor, was not seriously hurt.
But the third attack was not the charm for Monson, whose matter was declared a mistrial after he stabbed his two prior lawyers in the case.
This time, the judge in Everett, Wash., ordered Monson strapped to a chair for the remainder of proceedings. The judge also stripped Monson of his right to counsel.
The effect: A much kinder, gentler courtroom. Monson was quietly convicted last Thursday of drug possession. His murder charges are up next, followed by two assault charges for the attorney attacks. It's unclear whether he'll have counsel in those cases.
As for Cantor, he may be harboring some hard feelings from the attack. After all, it came just one day after Cantor successfully argued against putting his client in restraints, for fear it would prejudice the jury.
The last two times Monson attacked his attorneys, he stabbed them square in the neck using pencils smuggled from jail. The lawyers -- Tom Cox and Gurjit Pandher -- were not seriously hurt.
No pencils were sharpened in last week's incident. Instead, Monson grabbed his attorney's pen and tried to stab him in the neck -- but missed and grazed his head.
Sheriff's deputies pounced and dog-piled on Monson. They also sent shocks through an electric stun cuff attached to Monson's leg.
The ruckus interrupted the prosecutor's opening statements -- and sent some college students (observing court as part of an Introduction to Law class) diving for cover. All in all, it was a pointed lesson in the dangers of disruptive defendants.