Columbus man opts for trial by judge
It’s not a common occurrence in the Washington County Common Pleas Court for a defendant to waive the right to a jury trial without pleading guilty to a charge.
But Anthony Dwayne Mack, 36, of Columbus, said in open court Monday that he preferred his odds with the judge over a 12-person jury.
Washington County Common Pleas Judge Mark Kerenyi asked Mack if he understood that he has a right to a trial by jury and noted the competence of Mack’s attorney, Rolf Baumgartel.
“Twelve people that don’t know you, don’t know anything about the case would decide your case,” Kerenyi explained. “My understanding is you want to give that constitutional right?”
“Yes,” answered Mack. “I feel that you know the law a lot more than 12 people… In my past experience with a jury being in a small town, they judge me more for my race than the case.”
Mack currently stands accused of the following charges stemming from a February 2015 drug trafficking case:
¯ Possession of heroin, a fifth-degree felony.
¯ Trafficking in heroin, a fifth-degree felony.
¯ Having weapons under a disability, a third-degree felony.
¯ Three fourth-degree felony breaches of recognizance.
“He ran, he didn’t show up for his trial in the original case,” explained Washington County Assistant Prosecutor Joe Derkin.
Kerenyi explained to Mack that race has not been a problem for Mack’s defense attorney in winning cases in the past.
“He’s done well with defendants of color. It’s not an issue for him,” stated Kerenyi. “I used to be a prosecutor and he’s done really well also with out-of-town persons. That doesn’t convince you to follow your attorney’s advice and have a trial by jury?”
Mack acknowledged that he had received the advice to stand trial by a jury but decided against it.
“I’ve thought about it but my decision would be to have somebody more professional who knows more about the law than people on the outside,” said Mack, who has a previous conviction of drug trafficking out of Noble County.
Washington County Prosecutor Kevin Rings said the choice to be tried before the bench is not a common one in the county.
“It’s rare, maybe happens every three or four years,” he explained. “I suppose it would make sense if you had a really technical defense, but I think he just is worried in this case of racial matters.”
Mack will appear for trial before Kerenyi today at 9 a.m.
¯ Anthony Dwayne Mack, 36, of Columbus, will appear in Washington County Common Pleas Court today before Judge Mark Kerenyi for a trial by the bench.
¯ Mack faces one third-degree, three fourth-degree and two fifth-degree felony charges stemming from a drug trafficking case in February 2015.
¯ The trial is expected to only last one day and will begin at 9 a.m. today.
Source: Washington County Common Pleas Court.