UPDATE: Harris has successfully appealed a guilty plea to attempted promoting prison contraband and will soon return to court to continue to fight the charge.
LIVINGSTON COUNTY — Jail and Court Deputies had their hands full in court with a man charged with menacing a police officer. The man claimed he suffered from mental illness and thus needs treatment.
An irate Joseph Harris, 45, appeared in front of Judge Dennis Cohen with his left arm heavily bandaged after slashing his wrist with the stem of a pair of glasses, and said that he was insane when he committed his original crime.
“Do you think I give (expletive) right now?” Harris said to the Deputies guarding him closely as they repeatedy asked him to calm down. “My life is over.”
Harris is in court after a May incident in which he allegedly pulled a knife on a Mount Morris Police officer. In court Harris stated that he had consumed 42 klonopin pills that made him insane and that he doesn’t remember the incident.
Judge Cohen repeated to Harris the ramifications of a potential insanity plea and mental health claims while Deputies tried to calm Harris down.
“I have a hard time pleading guilty to something I have no recollection to,” said Harris as he twitched and fidgeted with his shackles. “I tried to tell my (expletive) lawyer but she won’t listen to me.”
Harris’s lawyer, Public Defender Ann Connor was frequently berated by her client during the tirade but stood fast, showing considerable professionalism and patience. Citing the lack of ability to communicate professionally with her client, she requested to be relieved from her legal duties with her client.
“I feel sending me to prison for two year’s isn’t helping me.” Harris said. “Send me to a pysch hospital instead.”
A mental evaluation will now likely be ordered. If Harris is found incompetent to stand trial he will be transferred to a mental institution and then would return to court where he would face the charges when deemed healthy enough to stand trial. The other option for Harris is a plea not guilty, and to take the charges to trial by jury or judge.
Under the proposed deal by Greg McCaffrey, Livingston County District Attorney, Harris is looking at an offer of two years in prison and three years of post-release supervision.