- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 4, 2016

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to take up the case of a Maine man who was stripped of his right to a court-appointed attorney during his criminal trial because he couldn’t get along with five of them.

Joshua Nisbet’s latest attorney, his eighth, said she was disappointed that the Supreme Court didn’t take up a matter that’s bound to rear its head again down the road.

“We think that the issues that we raised were worth of the court’s consideration. We’re hopeful that the court will take up those issues in some future case,” attorney Jamesa Drake said Tuesday.

Nisbet, who’s serving seven years in prison for robbing a convenience store, may be the first criminal defendant in Maine forced to represent himself at trial after being stripped of his constitutional right to a court-appointed attorney.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruled that Nisbet willfully waived his right to counsel through his behavior, which included threatening one of his lawyers.

Three attorneys asked to be removed from the case before a final pair were appointed. They complained that Nisbet asked them to engage in unethical conduct and both were removed after Nisbet allegedly threatened to shoot one of them in the eye with a BB gun.

Nisbet, of Scarborough, ended up handling his own defense during his 2014 trial.

Two standby attorneys at trial, his sixth and seventh, agreed to represent him at sentencing, and Drake handled his appeal to the state supreme court and his petition to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Nisbet always maintained that he wanted an attorney. The problem, Drake said, was that they couldn’t see eye to eye on strategy. She said she got along fine with him.

Nisbet’s mother, Dani Nisbet, suggested that the conflicts between her son and lawyers were overblown. She said she believed the primary conflict was created because her son wanted a trial while his attorneys wanted him to agree to a plea deal with prosecutors.

She said that allowing the status quo to stand “has set a dangerous precedent that leaves a wide open hole in our judicial system.”

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Monday doesn’t mean it’s the end of the road for Nisbet.

He could file a post-conviction appeal in state court. If that happens, then Nisbet would go back to the original trial judge and request his ninth attorney.


Follow David Sharp on Twitter at https://twitter.com/David_Sharp_AP. His work can be found at https://bigstory.ap.org/content/david-sharp.

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