Judge Orders Watts to Find an Attorney

Ohio County Circuit Judge James Mazzone will not allow Terry Watts to represent himself in his upcoming forgery/uttering trial.

Mazzone’s ruling came during a pre-trial hearing Thursday when Watts asked for permission to represent himself or to seek private counsel. The request came during a private meeting in Mazzone’s office.

The ruling came after Assistant Ohio County Prosecutor Shawn Turak objected to Watts being allowed to represent himself.

“The state objects to Mr. Watts being master of ceremonies at trial next week,” she said. “It will be a circus.”

Watts, of Martins Ferry, is facing three counts of forgery and three counts of uttering. If convicted of all charges, he could face six to 60 years in prison.

In making his ruling Mazzone said he denied the request because “it is inconsistent with the orderly administration of justice, in particular to the trial proceedings and because it is not in the best interest of the defendant.”

After review of a financial statement showing that Watts does not qualify under guidelines for a public defender, Mazzone told Watts he must seek private counsel and, if he cannot find one, Attorney Mark Panepinto be assigned by the court and Watts will reimburse the state for Penepinto’s fees.

Mazzone said the case, scheduled to go to trial on Thursday, will be continued if Watts obtains a new lawyer and that lawyer needs more time to prepare.