MILLERSBURG -- Wearing an orange jumpsuit and cuffed to the front, a Marshallville man accused of threatening a Holmes County probation officer on Wednesday sifted through stacks of papers, periodically jumping out of his seat at the defense table, as he verbally requested dismissal of the criminal case against him.
The appearance of John R. Harig Jr., 36, of 8696 Mount Eaton Road, in Holmes County Common Pleas Court was predicated by an indictment charging him with a single count of intimidation, a fourth-degree felony. He has pleaded not guilty to the charge, which carries a potential sentence of up to five years in prison.
In response to an earlier request by Harig, Judge Robert Rinfret relieved court-appointed attorney Luke Brewer from the case. And, despite Harig's verbalized desire to represent himself, Rinfret appointed Coshocton attorney Bob Weir to the case, on which he will be available to advise Harig, even if he does represent himself.
And, while he has a constitutional right to do so, Rinfret cautioned Harig that he may face challenges in representing himself, a feat he likened to "performing surgery on yourself."
Rinfret also told Harig he would consider an oral motion to dismiss the case, one which Harig said is rooted in discovery shared by the state, specifically, a statement of facts prepared on Oct. 26 by Holmes County Chief Probation Officer Roger Estill.
Citing a series of complaints, including false imprisonment, false statements, tampering with evidence and an inability to defend himself to this point, Harig said, the charge against him "does not hold water."
Continuing to express his disdain for the judicial system and the law enforcement authorities who have handled his case, Harig repeatedly was advised by Rinfret to remain seated and silent when being spoken to. He often apologized to Rinfret, but continued to interrupt the judge and, on several occasions, turned his attention instead to Estill, who also is the alleged victim in the case.
Rinfret said he would hear arguments on the motion to dismiss on Jan. 26, at which time he would also hear arguments on a motion to have Harig's competency evaluated. The motion, filed by Holmes County Prosecutor Steve Knowling cites Harig's "conduct and his interaction with both his attorney and the court (during which) he appears to have significant psychological and/or emotional issues which impact his ability to communicate with and assist his counsel, as well as understand the nature of the proceedings and charges against him."
"Or, in the alternative, (Harig) may be simply malingering to set up incompetency as a basis for appeal", continues Knowling's written motion, which notes, "In either case, a competency evaluation and determination is in the best interest of justice, so that any issue as to (Harig's) competency to stand trial can be resolved at the earliest possible time."
The intimidation charge stems from an Oct. 18 incident. That's when Harig reportedly was being interviewed by a Holmes County Sheriff's deputy on an unrelated matter.
During that conversation, Harig relayed to the officer that he'd been on probation since 2012 for domestic violence, and he expressed his displeasure with the Holmes County Adult Probation Office, according to Chief Deputy Richard Haun. During the course of the interview, Harig allegedly went on to threaten to cause physical harm to Estill.
Harig is incarcerated in the Holmes County Jail, with bond set at $50,000. During his time of confinement there, Haun said, Harig's behavior "has been less than acceptable."
Periodically, he has had verbal outbursts "similar to his behavior in court," although none of his actions have warranted disciplinary action within the jail, said Haun.
Reporter Christine Pratt can be reached at 330-674-5676 or firstname.lastname@example.org.