Judge Howard Fell has joined defense attorney Peter Herberg's list of suspicious characters.
If you're a regular reader of At the Courthouse, you are no doubt aware Herberg has been filing motion-after-motion suggesting Pamela Phillips isn't getting a fair shake in her first-degree murder case.
Herberg wants the Pima County Attorney's Office, Clerk of the Court Patti Noland and Judge Richard Fields off the case. He believes former prosecutor Shawn Jensvold hoped to make money from Phillips' woes, Noland had close ties with the deceased victim in the case and Judge Fields has made questionable rulings against Phillips in order to protect the reputation of the Pima County Attorney's Office.
On Monday, Herberg filed a motion criticizing Judge Fell.
First, some more background.
Several months ago, now retired Judge Charles Sabalos decided Phillips' competency wasn't an issue after Dr. Brad Johnson met with her. Herberg hired his own doctors to meet with his client and he was able to convince Judge Fields to reconsider the issue after giving him their reports (which are confidential).
Judge Fields decided Phillips ought to be evaluated by another doctor and, at Herberg's insistence, arranged for Judge Fell to read the doctor's report and make the ultimate decision as to Phillips' competency.
Judge Fell appointed Dr. Paul Simpson to perform the evaluation. (The court has a rotating list of doctors and assign doctors based upon their availability and whether a psychiatrist or psychologist is more appropriate.)
Well, on Monday Herberg filed a motion suggesting some wrong-doing by Judge Fell.
First, Herberg said Judge Fell didn't tell anyone he was on a "Conqistadores money-raising 'Team 41'" with Gary Triano, the victim in the case.
Secondly, Herberg said Judge Fell, prosecutors or "someone else" may have been appointed Dr. Simpson because Dr. Simpson is a Christian and doesn't believe in recovered memories.
According to Herberg, Phillips recovered some memories after "undergoing work with a guru in India" and "has unusual beliefs linked to Hinduism and astrology."
In his motion, Herberg says that if Judge Fields doesn't revoke Dr. Simpson's appointment, he must "appoint a qualified expert who is current on the memory research and not partisan against previous amnesia of true memories of trauma."
Herberg also said Dr. Simpson met with his client before he was supposed to and before Herberg got a chance to talk to Phillips about the meeting.
In their response, prosecutors Bill McCollum and Casey McGinley remind Judge Fields that Herberg requested Judge Fell even though Judge Deborah Bernini is the new Mental Health Court judge.
The prosecutors also say Herberg did not request a hearing to determine who should do the evaluation, did not request to be present during the doctor's meeting with Phillips and has had months to discuss the whole competency issue with her.
"There is no evidence at this time that (Dr. Simpson) is partisan, or that any of his past teachings, opinions, experiences, training or education would disqualify him from having contact with the defendant," the prosecutors say.
If Herberg believes Dr. Simpson's religious beliefs or position on memory recall are issues, he can ask Judge Fields at the time of trial for permission to cross-examine Dr. Simpson on them, McCollum and McGinley wrote.
The prosecutors went on to say, "Although defense counsel implies within his argument that the prosecution was somehow involved with Dr. Simpson's appointment in this case, defense counsel is very much aware that the appointment was done by the court through the Clinical Coordinator."
Judge Fields hasn't yet scheduled a hearing to discuss the matter.
By the way, Dr. Johnson told Judge Sabalos he believes Phillips is probably faking mental illness. Phillips told him she believes someone has been watching and listening to her for the past seven to eight years and she believes plugs have been inserted into her brain so people can track her and control her body.
In addition, Phillips described feeling as though waves of energy or electricity have flowed through her body at times. At other times, she feels like she's exploding or imploding from within, Dr. Johnson said.