Today's Topeka Capital-Journal reports, "Hawver tells disciplinary panel he didn't have death penalty training." It's written by Steve Fry.
Lawyer Dennis Hawver hopes his proposal that he never defend another homicide case again will end an ethics complaint tied to his handling of a death penalty case that sent a client to death row.
A prosecutor in the office of the disciplinary administrator, which polices lawyer conduct, is suggesting disbarment or indefinite suspension of Hawver.
Eight years after Hawver represented Phillip D. Cheatham Jr. in a Shawnee County capital murder case, Hawver faced the panel that will determine whether Hawver violated any ethics rules governing lawyers.
If he did, the panel will recommend what sanctions he would receive. Hawver represented himself Tuesday.
Hawver admitted he knew little about defending a client charged with capital murder:
■ He never took continuing legal education courses in how to defend someone facing a death penalty case. A lawyer is required to take CLEs.
■ "I freely admit that I did not meet the American Bar Association standards (dealing with death penalty cases) because I wasn't even aware of ABA standards when I tried this case."
Earlier this week, the Capital-Journal provided a preview, "Former Cheatham attorney: Defendant is 'master' of his case, not the attorney," also written by Fry.
In answer to allegations by the Kansas Board for Discipline of Attorneys, lawyer Dennis Hawver has defended his legal work when he represented capital murder defendant Phillip D. Cheatham Jr.
On Tuesday, Hawver, an Ozawkie lawyer, will appear before a three-member disciplinary panel, which will decide whether Hawver violated any ethics rules governing lawyers and, if so, what sanction they would recommend he receive.
On Jan. 25, the Kansas Supreme Court overturned Cheatham’s conviction and his death penalty sentence. In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court cited ineffective assistance of counsel, saying Hawver provided incompetent representation of Cheatham.
The Supreme Court said Hawver’s shortcomings included his unfamiliarity with American Bar Association guidelines for handling death penalty cases; declining to accept funds from state Board of Indigents’ Defense Services to hire investigators; spending 200 hours in defense of Cheatham, an “appallingly low (amount of time) for a death penalty case;” failing to make himself available as an alibi witness for his client; and informing jurors of his client’s 1994 manslaughter conviction.