FARMINGTON — A judge denied a defense attorney’s request to amend bail or move a pretrial prisoner being held at the Windham Correctional Center to the Franklin County Jail in Farmington or Somerset County Jail in Madison.

Judge Susan Oram wrote in her decision that since the defendant has conceded that the constitutional issue raised is the only basis for amending his bail conditions, and since on this very limited evidentiary record the defendant has not demonstrated his placement at Windham interferes with his constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel, the motion to amend bail is denied.

Attorney Walter Hanstein of Farmington told a judge in late October that his client’s constitutional rights were being violated because he’s at the Maine Correctional Center in Windham, more than 90 minutes away from Farmington and his legal counsel.

Hanstein asked Oram to either rule that Robert Parker Jr., 43, of Phillips must be moved closer to Farmington or be released on a pretrial contract while awaiting trial on charges that include sexual assault against a child under 12 and endangering the welfare of a child by giving cigarettes to two children under 15. Parker’s bail was set at $75,000 cash or $150,000 worth of real estate on the sexual assault charges. He has been unable to make bail.

People in custody who cannot make bail are sent to another correctional facility after 72 hours at the Franklin County Detention Center in Farmington. The jail only has a license to hold inmates for 72 hours since the state took over the county jails in 2009. The state Board of Corrections denied in September Franklin County officials’ request to restore the jail to full service.

Franklin County inmates were previously housed at the Somerset County Jail until earlier this year, when a dispute occurred between Somerset County officials and the state Board of Corrections.

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Oram’s decision also noted that the Maine Department of Corrections and the sheriffs of Franklin and Somerset counties have the right to be notified and heard on the issue.

The conclusion implies no criticism of counsel’s dedication to represent his client, Oram wrote.

On the limited record, she said, no competent evidence suggests the defendant’s placement burdens his ability to access the help of all the qualified attorneys available to him.

“In fact, the only information the court has to support defendant’s claim that his placement in Windham interferes with his constitutional right to the assistance of counsel is the fact that Windham is located 76 miles from Farmington, and his current attorney’s statement that he did not have the time to travel there to meet with him. This is not sufficient basis for concluding that defendant is being deprived of effective assistance of counsel,” Oram wrote.

Furthermore, the “sixth amendment right to counsel does not confer upon a defendant an absolute right to counsel of defendant’s choice. … Rather, the Constitution guarantees criminal defendants only a fair trial and competent attorney as necessary to insure an adequate defense,” according to case law she referenced.

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