ELIZABETHTOWN — Michael Rivers, the man convicted on May 30, 2013 of first-degree manslaughter and gang-assault in the death of Keeseville resident Robert M. Rennie requested new counsel at his sentencing Thursday, Jan. 9 at the Essex County Courthouse. The request once again delayed sentencing for the third and final individual to be charged in relation to the father of two’s death.
When Essex County Judge Richard B. Meyer asked Rivers’ defense attorney Alexander Schulsky if there was a reason not to proceed with sentencing, Schulsky responded in the affirmative and asked to be relieved of counsel due to a “breakdown” between himself and Rivers.
“I can’t advocate on his behalf,” said Schulsky.
When asked if he agreed with Schulsky by Meyer, Rivers said that he and Schulsky “couldn’t agree on anything” and “I wasn’t advised of anything.”
At the center of Rivers’ dissatisfaction appeared to be a delay in Rivers’ obtaining of court transcripts.
Meyer countered that the transcripts of the trial, held this past May, were very lengthy, but Rivers claimed his counsel didn’t “file the proper motions.”
Rivers further claimed that Schulsky “didn’t talk to him” and only travelled to the county jail “three or four times” to confer with his client.
“Why should I appoint new counsel?” asked Meyer, while Rivers had to be prompted to sit and stand by Schulsky while addressing Meyer.
“I don’t know nuthin’ about the law,” Rivers responded repeatedly to Meyer’s probes. “I’m not a lawyer.”
“I think you’re playing games.” said Meyer. “What do you want me to do?”
Following several long silences, Meyer sternly reminded Rivers of the attorney-client relationship and agreed to assign new counsel for Rivers.
However, Meyer said he would strip Rivers of the right to choose new counsel if another breakdown occurred that would alter the “fundamentals” of the attorney-client relationship.