James Carver, right, is pictured in Highland County Common Pleas Court Wednesday with defense attorney John Cornely. (HCP Photo/Caitlin Forsha)
James Carver, right, is pictured in Highland County Common Pleas Court Wednesday with defense attorney John Cornely. (HCP Photo/Caitlin Forsha)
During a status hearing Wednesday morning in Highland County Common Pleas Court for a New Vienna man charged with murder, Judge Rocky Coss said that both of the defendant’s attorneys have withdrawn from the case and told the defendant that it seems “you’re the problem.”

As previously reported in The Highland County Press, James Carver, 40, of New Vienna, was indicted on six charges April 2 in connection with the shooting death of a 33-year-old Wilmington woman in February. Appointed to represent him were local attorneys William Armintrout and Jacob Wagoner, both of whom have now withdrawn from the case.

Wagoner, who attended the hearing Wednesday, explained his reason for withdrawing.



“Throughout the case, there’s been some differences between Mr. Carver and myself,” Wagoner said. “I think it would be best at this time for his interest and my ability to represent him effectively.”

Coss explained the situation to Carver.

“I don’t usually allow the withdrawal of attorneys from a defense case,” Coss said. “This is the first time in 10 and a half years I’ve had two attorneys withdraw at one time. That tells me that you’re the problem, not the attorneys.”

Coss appointed John Cornely of the Ohio Public Defender’s Office to represent Carver. Cornely said that he had met with Carver for about an hour and a half earlier this week.

Coss told Carver that “There won’t be any more withdrawals. I just want to let you know that your acting out isn’t going to be grounds for another change of counsel.

“If you don’t like what you’re being told, and they won’t file motions that you want filed because there isn’t a legal basis for it, that’s not grounds for them to be disqualified,” Coss told Carver. “I’m telling you right now, I’ve had two attorneys withdraw, and there won’t be a third, unless there’s some legal reason.”

As previously reported, during Carver’s first pretrial, Coss said he “received a note” the defendant sent, asking to take a polygraph test. The judge had explained to Carver the procedure for undergoing a polygraph test and that it’s not used to determine a defendant’s guilt or innocence. Coss added that polygraph tests “are only allowed if all parties agree, and it’s not allowed that often.”

During Wednesday’s hearing, Coss said that he has received more correspondence from Carver. The judge told Carver “it’s time for you to start listening instead of talking.”

“We talked about this, that you want a polygraph. Well, the law doesn’t allow it,” Coss told Carver. “There’s also something in your letter about the right to meet with a judge. You don’t have a right to meet with the judge except in a hearing. This is a legal proceeding. I’m not your father confessor. I’m the judge.”

Carver said, “Yes, sir.”

Due to the change in counsel, Carver’s pretrial and trial dates will be pushed back, with what is expected to be a three-day jury trial now scheduled to begin Aug. 5.

As previously reported in The Highland County Press, Carver was indicted on six charges April 2. The victim in the case was taken to Adena Greenfield Medical Center during the early morning hours of Tuesday, Feb. 19, where she was pronounced dead. The Highland County Coroner’s Office ruled the death to be a homicide as a result of a gunshot wound.

Carver was indicted on the following charges: murder, an unclassified felony; a specification that the offender displayed, brandished, indicated possession of or used a firearm; rape, a first-degree felony; having weapons while under disability, a third-degree felony; domestic violence, a third-degree felony; and tampering with evidence, a third-degree felony. He is currently being held in the Highland County Justice Center on a $1 million bond.