A lawyer for one-time death-row inmate Douglas Lovell is preparing for his 2014 murder trial — even if Lovell doesn’t want him.
In a letter Aug. 1, Lovell claimed his relationship with attorney Mike Bouwhuis had deteriorated beyond repair. Lovell refused to discuss details of the conflict in a Thursday hearing with 2nd District Judge Michael D. Lyon, but Bouwhuis disclosed he and Lovell disagreed on the course of action to take in May after the court denied Lovell’s request for a new judge in what will be his second trial in the 1985 murder of Joyce Yost.
“I’ve had 11 attorneys in 17 years,” he said.
Lovell said Bouwhuis “has not made even a grunion of an attempt” to repair the relationship since May.
Bouwhuis said he has no problem working with Lovell.
Lyon said he could not order a new attorney without further explanation of the conflict and noted that Bouwhuis is one in a limited pool of public defenders qualified to litigate a death-penalty case.
“You’ve got a very good lawyer,” Lyon said. He ordered Bouwhuis to visit Lovell at the prison for a meeting to resolve their differences.
Lovell said he would appeal Lyon’s decision.
Lovell, 54, pleaded guilty in 1993 to murdering Yost to prevent her from testifying against him in a rape and kidnapping case, and he was sentenced to death. However, the Utah Supreme Court in 2010 ruled that he couldwithdraw the guilty plea because he should have been better informed of his rights during court proceedings. The ruling overturned a decision by Lyon that the guilty plea should stand, and Lovell’s defenders argued that the case should be removed from Lyon’s hands. Another judge ruled in May that the case should remain under Lyon, and Lovell and Bouwhuis disagreed on how to proceed.