The case against Kevin Dwayne Walker was supposed to be simple - a retrial on an indecent-exposure charge that had ended a month before with the jury deadlocked.
But within minutes yesterday, the proceeding had spun into the annals of the unusual in Howard County Circuit Court.
First, Walker's lawyer, Deputy Public Defender Louis P. Willemin, tried to quit the case after learning yesterday morning that his client was suing him and his office for $50 million.
Then, with Walker criticizing the public defender's office and his probation officer, Judge Dennis M. Sweeney heaped praise on both.
"Mr. Willemin's done a marvelous job in this court's view of representing you against great odds," he said. As for the officer, the judge said, "he's my single favorite probation officer."
By the time the brief hearing was over, court officials were left in a quandary. With Walker suing the public defender's office - and still asking for representation - Sweeney denied Willimen's request to step down and instead set a hearing for May 23 to figure out who Walker's lawyer could be.
The public defender's office normally assigns outside counsel when it has a conflict, but Willemin said he's "reluctant" for the public defender's office to have any involvement in Walker's case given the lawsuit.
Yesterday's hearing was the latest in a maze of pleadings and criminal proceedings involving Walker that have made their way through Howard County Circuit Court over the last two years.
Four times since fall 1999, Walker, who according to various court files is either 44 or 45, has been tried on indecent-exposure charges. Twice, he has been acquitted - once by jury, once by judge. Once, he was convicted and sentenced to 18 months in jail and ordered to seek mental-health and sexual-offender treatment after release on probation.
In yesterday's case, Walker stood accused of exposing himself to a clerk at the Wilde Lake Crown station. An earlier trial on the same charges resulted in a deadlocked jury April 11. It is the only case pending for Walker.
At one point in the cases, Walker tried to fire his previous lawyer, Assistant Public Defender Debra Michael, forcing a hearing that sent Michael to the witness stand.
Each of the case files also includes a mix of lawyers' pleadings and Walker's hand-written motions and letters.
After he was accused of exposing himself to a police officer while in a holding cell at the Southern District police station, Walker accused the officer of being a peeping tom, according to court documents. Walker, of the 10300 block of Twin Rivers Road, was later acquitted of an indecent-exposure charge in that case because there was a question as to whether the station was a public place - a requirement for a conviction, officials said.
After he was convicted of indecent exposure in October, Walker filed the lawsuit, adding defendants in subsequent complaints. The lawsuit now includes County Executive James N. Robey, members of the Howard County state's attorney's office, officials with the Howard County Detention Center and others. The public defender's office was added to the suit April 23.
The complaints include allegations that a witness lied on the stand and that the jail has denied him "maintenance medications" and failed to provide a "safe and secure living eviron (sic)."