CEDAR RAPIDS – There’s no doubt Jerome Power left an impression with the jury Monday after pouring water on his lawyer’s head, but it may not give him the results he’s hoping.
Robert Rigg, Drake Law School professor, said it likely left a “negative” view of Power with the jury.
“Clients will sometimes act out but usually not in front of the jury,” Rigg said. “They usually blurt out things in testimony or will have words with their attorneys during pre-trials. You always tell your clients there is going to be testimony that they won’t like, but tell them not to react in front of the jury. They can get upset outside of the jury.”
Power, 50, charged with first-degree murder in the strangulation death of Doris Bevins, 68, Sept. 19, 2010. Power is accused of strangling Bevins with pajama pants, according to testimony. She died of ligature strangulation. Power was found hiding inside Bevins’ home when police arrived.
Power poured a cup of water on attorney Steve Addington’s head after closing arguments were completed, stunning everyone in the court, including the deputies. The jury was still in the courtroom and witnessed the incident.
Addington didn’t say anything to Power after the incident. Power was taken out by the deputies and Addington just wiped off his head and wet jacket.
Power seemed upset and agitated the entire morning after asking the court to declare a mistrial, citing conflicts with his lawyers, before closing arguments began.
Sixth Judicial District Judge Fae Hoover-Grinde told him his motion was denied. She has denied previous claims of ineffective counsel Conflicts or disagreements with his lawyers aren’t grounds for a mistrial, she said.
Power has accused his lawyers, Addington and Jason Dunn, both with the Iowa Public Defender’s Office – Special Defense Unit in Des Moines, of ineffective counsel because his trial strategy doesn’t gel with theirs. Addington and Dunn are Power’s third set of lawyers.
Rigg said Power’s stunt probably would heighten the attorneys’ defense if Power attempts to claim ineffective counsel on appeal if he’s not cooperating with them. Every lawyer makes mistakes during a trial but to make the case for ineffective counsel, a lawyer would have to make errors so critical that it deprives a defendant of a fair trial, he said.
Earlier in the trial, Power held up a sign incriminating another man of killing Bevins. He flashed it only to the media. The judge, attorneys nor the jury saw the sign.
Rigg said he has had clients who have become explosive but they usually have mental health issues.
“I haven’t had something like this happen to me but I remember one defendant spit on their lawyer but not in front of the jury. Several years ago, there was a defendant who took a swing at their lawyer. That was also not in front of a jury.”
Other lawyers talking about the incident Monday said they hadn’t experienced something like that or had seen it happened to another lawyer in the area, at least, not during a trial.
“I really must commend the court appointed public defender,” Mark Brown, Cedar Rapids defense attorney, said. “They accept that which they are assigned and put forth their legal heart and soul on these type of serious cases. At the end of the day a thank you would be nice.”