From the Saborit file: His lawyer returns my call

I wrote the adjacent post on the arson case pending against Alexis Saborit and then went for a walk. During my review of the arson case file yesterday afternoon, I picked up the office telephone number of Saborit counsel Michael W. McDonald in the file. I called him to answer some of the questions I raised in the post and left a voicemail message with his office. To my great surprise, he returned my call during my walk. I was unable to take notes. Writing as soon as I returned to home, I offer the following summary of what he told me.

I grateful that Mr. McDonald returned my call. I did not expect it. Indeed, I was shocked. He could not have been more pleasant or good-humored or straightforward.

It turns out that Mr. McDonald was a transfer student into the third year of my law school class at the University of Minnesota Law School. He received his degree from Washington and Lee University School of Law based on the credits he earned in our class that year.

I asked him about Saborit’s violation of the terms of his conditional release and resulting release on an increased bond earlier this year on April 1. He explained to me that Minnesota does not allow a straight order of detention pending trial. Bond or bail has to be set. That is what Judge Perkins did on April 1, raising Saborit’s bond by $50,000 or bail by $5,000.

In the murder case, Saborit’s bail has been set at $2.5 million. It should have been set high enough in the arson case that Saborit could not be released before trial. He is a very obvious menace to others.

I asked about the indication that Saborit raised a danger of harm to the life or property of others on the March 30 conditional release revocation order. He said that was a new one on him. He was not familiar with that provision of the revocation form.

I noted that he had raised issues regarding Saborit’s mental health from the outset of the arson case, both as to competency to assist in the defense and then as an additional defense to the charge. In this context he cited his 40 years of experience in defense work and mentioned his sense for “wacky clients.”

I asked him if he could tell me the result of the psychologist’s evaluation of Saborit per the May 10 report listed in the court file. He said it was confidential and that he could not disclose it. He added that there had been no judicial determination of any of the mental health issues in the case. They remain unresolved.

He told me that he had relied on America Thayer to help him translate his conversations with Saborit in the course of the case. He said that the July 30 hearing following Saborit’s arrest included both the arson case and the murder charge. He asked for permission to withdraw from representing Saborit based on the friendly relationship he developed with America in the course of the arson case. He no longer represents Saborit.

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