Judge: Gress can’t act as own attorneyLess than an hour into a bench trial Thursday morning, Judge William Herauf announced he would not allow Michael Gress to act as his own attorney.
Less than an hour into a bench trial Thursday morning, Judge William Herauf announced he would not allow Michael Gress to act as his own attorney.
Gress is charged with delivery of methamphetamine, a Class A felony, for allegedly delivering .19 grams of meth to a confidential informant for $100 in December, according to his criminal complaint.
Gress and two others allegedly traveled to a Dickinson apartment building, according to the Dickinson Police Department. He allegedly entered the building with the informant’s money and returned with meth, according to DPD.
Gress also faces charges of driving under suspension and possession of drug paraphernalia.
He acted as his own attorney at previous hearings and in April requested a “trial by judge” rather than a jury trial, to which Herauf agreed.
However, after ordering a recess, Herauf decided to call off the trial Thursday.
“I had to go ahead and do some research,” Herauf said regarding the recess.
Although Gress has the right to represent himself, certain requirements have to be met, Herauf said.
“When you start to try your case, due process demands that you get a fair trial and in order to get a fair trial not only do you have to be competent to stand trial, but you also have to be competent to understand the allegation,” Herauf said. “You have to be competent to present a case and a defense,”
He added Gress has been evaluated and it was determined he is competent to stand trial, but that alone doesn’t qualify him to act as his own attorney.
“I have serious doubts that you understand the full charges,” Herauf said. “At this point I do not believe that you can put on a good defense for yourself …
“After I’ve got a flavor of what the case is, Mr. Gress, you are not competent to try your case,” Herauf said.
An attorney will be appointed to represent Gress and a new trial will be scheduled, Herauf added.
Thursday’s trial was called off before Gress and Stark County Assistant State’s Attorney Jim Hope were able to present any evidence or testimony that related to the delivery of meth charge.
However, they were able to address the driving under suspension and paraphernalia charges, Hope said.
“The only defense that he presented was an assertion that he had an unqualified right to drive his vehicle,” Hope said.
Gress faces up to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine for the delivery of meth charge.
He declined comment after the hearing.