Arson Defendant Comes to Court Late Without an Attorney

 A Knox man whose business burned under suspicious circumstances in March of 2014 is still looking for an attorney to represent him in his upcoming arson trial. James Campbell’s two defense attorneys withdrew from his case in early June, citing nonpayment for legal services. He’s accused of setting fire to Starke County Recycling at the corner of U.S. 35 and Toto Road. The jury in Campbell’s March arson trial was unable to reach a verdict after 12 hours of deliberations.

Starke Circuit Judge Kim Hall has made clear the conditions of Campbell’s $1 million surety bond remain in effect. They include not leaving the state and surrendering his passport. His next jury trial is set to start Oct. 19. Campbell arrived 40 minutes late to a scheduled Thursday morning status hearing and told the judge he is still trying to hire an attorney. He told the judge the ones he’s called have “been on vacation and enjoying the July 4th holiday” but added he should have counsel retained soon.

“Tell the lawyer your trial date is Oct. 19 and he or she must be ready,” Hall admonished Campbell. During the proceeding he also told him not to wait until Oct. 1 to have an attorney file an appearance on his behalf and request a continuance.

Campbell told the judge he wants to get the matter resolved “because it has put a hardship on my business.” He added he’s trying to get the best defense possible. Campbell’s former attorneys have advised the court all of the documents pertaining to his case have been inventories and are in banker’s boxes awaiting transfer to his new lawyer.

During the hearing, Campbell also asked Judge Hall if it would be possible for him to travel to Kentucky “for a few weeks.” Chief Deputy Prosecutor Mary Ryan objects, citing his potential flight risk. The judge told Campbell to submit an extremely detailed written request to the court for consideration and advised he is not to leave the state until and unless it is approved. His next status hearing is Friday, Aug. 28 at 9 a.m.