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4th attorney in Fodness case wants to call it quits

By LeAnn R. Ralph

MENOMONIE — The fourth attorney who has represented Michael Fodness now wants to withdraw from the case.

Shirlene Perrin filed a motion in Dunn County Circuit Court to withdraw on April 16, said the Honorable William Stewart during a court hearing April 19.

Perrin could not be in court for the Friday hearing, which was originally scheduled for 10:45 a.m. but was not actually up on the docket until noon.

Judge Stewart attempted twice to call the telephone number Perrin had provided to the court but only succeeded in reaching Perrin’s voicemail.

On the second attempt at calling, Judge Stewart left a message for Perrin to call the court as soon as possible.

A local court rule for Dunn County prohibits allowing an attorney to withdraw from a case without both the defendant and the attorney being present in the courtroom unless a waiver has been submitted to the court, Judge Stewart said.

The court clerk will reach Perrin and schedule a court hearing during the following week, he said.

The date and time will be within the next week before Friday, April 26, Judge Stewart said.

“We will get a hearing scheduled, and we will get her here,” he said.

Fodness was present in the courtroom on April 19, but without an attorney to represent him, was advised not to speak to the court.

The first attorney to represent Fodness in the case involving multiple counts of sex crimes against young girls was Francis Rivard.

Rivard officially began representing Fodness on October 25, 2010, and withdrew from the case on January 3, 2011.

A preliminary hearing had been scheduled on January 3, but Fodness circumvented the hearing by firing Rivard, who had been assigned to the case by the public defender’s office.

The next attorney assigned by the public defender’s office, Kerry Kelm, served for two months, from January 13 to March 15, 2011, until she withdrew from the case because of a conflict of interest.

John Bachman served as Fodness’s attorney from March 18 to March 29, 2011.

Shirlene Perrin began serving as the attorney on April 4, 2011.

A jury trial for Fodness in Ladysmith in February ended on the second day when Judge Stewart declared a mistrial.

A jury trial scheduled last August was postponed when Fodness was stricken with appendicitis.

A jury trial scheduled a year ago in February was rescheduled to August when both the district attorney and Perrin agreed they needed more time to prepare.

Another trial for Fodness currently is scheduled from May 13 to May 21 in Rusk County.

As of late Friday, April 19, a court hearing on Perrin’s request to withdraw is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 25.