Sheridan County Detention Center inmate Huntly A. Rinck received an unusual birthday present Thursday morning. Sheridan Media's Mary Jo Johnson has the story.
Rinck turned 53 February 18th, and went before 4th Judicial District Court Judge John Fenn to make a motion of "Pro Se", or requesting that he represent himself in his upcoming jury trial scheduled later this spring. Rinck was charged with Sexual Exploitation of Children after pornographic images were found on a hard drive he'd left in his work computer on October 12th, 2009. A subsequent search of Rinck's home computer found many images, and stories allegedly authored by Rinck that contained graphic sexual acts involving children.
Rinck's court-appointed public defender, Robert Jones, told Judge Fenn that he found Rinck to be "intelligent and understanding the nature of what is going on." Jones added that the case is "not complex -- being categorized 'possession'; either you do or you don't." Jones said, however, that if the judge decided to allow Rinck the right of Pro Se, Rinck would not have any back-up counsel.
Rinck told Judge Fenn that he finds Jones to be "apathetic" towards his case, and feels that he, Rinck, is more competent to handle his own case than Jones. Rinck said that the last conversation he had had with Jones was on December 8th at his arraignment. Subsequent correspondence sent to Jones, Rinck added, was never answered. The letter was sent requesting the affidavit of the search warrant allowing law enforcement to search Rinck's work and home computers.
Prosecutor for the State, Christopher LaRosa, told Judge Fenn that Rinck's motion of Pro Se in essence had "fired" Jones, and therefore any requests for Discovery items have been held with the State's office until the Judge made his decision in Thursday's hearing. La Rosa also said that it was important for Rinck to understand that because of the nature of the case, any Discovery evidence having to do with images of children would not be made available to him, nor would he be allowed Internet access to "research and review similar cases." Judge Fenn told Rinck that it would be up to the Sheridan County Sheriff's Office whether Rinck would be allowed any hard copies of legal books or statutes.
After asking no fewer than five different times if Rinck fully understood that he would be taking a risk of possibly handicapping his own defense, Judge Fenn finally granted the Pro Se motion, and Rinck will be representing himself at his May 12th jury trial.
Sexual Exploitation of Children is a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than ten years, a fine of not more than $10,000, or both.