New defense counsel appointed for Rae

The Juneau man accused of stealing a vehicle and crashing it into the Alaska Brewing Company was appointed a new attorney Thursday afternoon.

Juneau Superior Court Judge Louis Menendez granted defense attorney Natasha Norris’ request to withdraw from the case after the two had an altercation in an Anchorage jail last Friday.

The Office of Public Advocacy, a division of the state of Alaska Department of Administration that provides legal advocacy and helps with conflict cases received from the Public Defender Agency, named Kevin Higgins as Rae’s newest attorney. Higgins is a former defense attorney with the state of Alaska Department of Administration Public Defender Agency who opened up his own law practice on Seventh Street last month.

Menendez said during the proceedings in order for an attorney to withdraw from the case, the attorney-client relationship must be damaged beyond repair to the point where the attorney can no longer objectively or effectively represent the client. He said previous case law indicates that an attorney cannot drop a client just because they are deemed simply uncooperative.

When he asked Norris to prove their relationship had deteriorated, they discussed the matter confidentially, in court with Rae present, so press or other parties were not able to hear.

Rae is charged with first-degree vehicle theft, second-degree burglary and third-degree criminal mischief, all class ‘C’ felonies. He also faces a misdemeanor count of third-degree theft.

Menendez scheduled a four-day trial for Rae to begin Nov. 7.

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