Lawyer withdraws from abuse case |

Lawyer withdraws from abuse case

by Sheila Gardner

Lawyer Kevin Walsh withdrew Tuesday as counsel for sexual assault suspect Ronald J. Smith after his client complained the attorney was charging him too much money.

District Judge Dave Gamble approved the withdrawal after Walsh said he felt he could no longer effectively represent the 42-year-old Gardnerville man charged with four counts of sexual assault with a child under 14.

“I’ve never had this happen with a client before,” Walsh said. “He (Smith) has made allegations to you and to the jail staff that put me in an untenable position. I can no longer be his advocate. I’ve become his adversary in the position of defending myself.”

Walsh said Smith had failed to cooperate in his defense.

Smith said he’d paid Walsh $20,000 so far and wanted to know how to get his money back.

“He (Walsh) says he can’t properly defend me unless I come up with more money. I can’t come up with more money,” Smith said.

Gamble said the financial dispute was a private issue between Smith and Walsh.

“Lawyers are expensive,” Gamble said. “But this issue is not in front of me. It’s a private contract. All I can tell you is that you need a lawyer.”

Smith said he wanted to keep Walsh’s co-counsel Laura Grant, who represented him in a successful bid to have his bail lowered from $2 million to $750,000.

He’s been in Douglas County Jail since his arrest.

“It’s Miss Grant I’m happy with,” Smith said. “If I lose him, I lose her.”

Gamble told Smith he may be ineligible for a court-appointed attorney. He ordered him to complete a financial disclosure Tuesday to determine if he would qualify for free or reduced-cost legal representation.

“If I appoint counsel, it won’t be Miss Grant if I find you are indigent,” Gamble said.

The judge told Smith he intended to keep an April 16 trial date.

Smith pleaded not guilty in connection with the alleged abuse of his former girlfriend’s son, now 13.

Smith is accused of assaulting the boy from April through August 2006. He was arrested Sept. 5 after the mother said she found Smith hiding naked in her son’s closet.