A Booneville man attempted to fire his attorney in favor of new counsel Friday but when pressed to have his new attorney notify the court, his current lawyer remained the attorney of record.
Ronald Dee Smith, 50, was first called from the arraignment portion of Friday’s docket. It was then that his attorney, Ernie Witt, informed the court that he would like to be relieved as attorney of record.
"I’ve been fired," Witt said.
Asked by 15th Judicial District Judge Jerry Don Ramey if he had a new attorney, Smith said he did. Asked who it was, Smith said Mark Mobley. However he mispronounced the last name with a long o as in Mo rather than a short o as in Mob.
"It doesn’t give me comfort that you mispronounced his name," said Ramey who then referenced the pre-trial motion portion of the docket which contained another seven entries for Smith. "I remind you that these are old, old cases and I’m going to warn you that hiring a new attorney will not buy you more time."
Smith is set for a jury trial on July 31 on those seven cases.
Called before the court during the pre-trial portion of the docket Smith testified he had been in contact with Mobley and that the attorney told him to ask for a continuance.
Ramey then again asked circuit clerk Everly Kellar if a document showing Mobley making an entry of appearance had arrived in her office. It had not.
Ramey then instructed Smith to contact Mobley again and have a document bearing the attorney’s letterhead and signature faxed to the courthouse in Booneville.
When that document had not arrived after a lunch break, Ramey consulted with Witt and said he could not remove the attorney until another lawyer was duly noted as representing Smith.
The judge also said he intends for the cases against Smith to move forward next Wednesday.
Each of those cases involves various combinations of theft of property, residential burglary and breaking and entering, as does the case in which Smith was arraigned Friday.
A co-defendant with Smith in three of the cases, Steven Scott Long, 33, was sentenced to 10 years in the Arkansas Department of Correction with four years suspended for pleading guilty to residential burglary and theft of property in a single case in May.