Stalking trial opens today against disbarred attorney
January 15, 2013
Fifteen months after he was accused of criminally stalking a Johnson Lane woman, disbarred attorney Michael Meisler goes on trial today, defending himself on a charge that carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison.
Chief Criminal Deputy District Attorney Tom Gregory and Meisler are to sift through a pool of 150 Douglas County residents to seat a panel of 12 jurors and an alternate for the trial expected to last through Friday.
District Judge Michael Gibbons has ruled on numerous motions from Meisler who has successfully delayed the trial since he pleaded not guilty last May to a felony charge of aggravated stalking. He tried for another delay Monday, but Gibbons denied the request.
Meisler, 61, denied the allegation of his former girlfriend who obtained an extended protection order to keep him away.
The victim testified at a preliminary hearing in May that she was in fear for her life from Meisler whom she had known for about six months before she tried to break it off.
Meisler is accused of sending the alleged victim threatening messages and being inside her home without permission.
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The complaint alleges that between Nov. 15 and Dec. 14, 2011, Meisler sent multiple letters, text messages, newspaper clippings and other writings, and left messages for the woman in her home and taped to the garage.
The messages said, “Kill me if you can,” “you deserve everything coming to you as a result of your callousness,” “yours was a fatal decision,” according to the criminal complaint.
Meisler was licensed to practice law in Florida, New Mexico, the District of Columbia and Costa Rica before he was disbarred for similar convictions in Florida.
He has been in custody in Douglas County Jail since December 2012, where Gibbons allowed him to set up a law library and other privileges to prepare his defense.
His bail is $50,000.
Gibbons said Monday that any potential jurors who appear sick, or have doctors’ appointments could be excused by court bailiffs.
Citing the widespread outbreak of flu, Gibbons said, “I am not going to have sick people here.”
As he has on several occasions, Gibbons cautioned Meisler about testifying while he questions jurors or witnesses. He cited a conversation Meisler reportedly had while undergoing examination at the Lake’s Crossing Center for the Mentally Disordered Offender.
“You said what you could do if you wanted – obstruct the trial, or turn it into a three-ring circus, but you said you wouldn’t. You’re representing yourself, that’s it,” Gibbons said.
Courtroom antics could result in contempt citations with penalties of 25 days for civil or six months for criminal, Gibbons said.
“I would strongly advise against any obstructionist behavior or calling attention to yourself,” Gibbons said.