The son of former “Real Housewives of Orange County” star Lauri Peterson will again represent himself in his attempted-murder case after alleging during a court hearing Tuesday that he can’t be sure of the confidentiality of phone calls between himself and his former defense attorney.
Joshua Waring, 29, dismissed his attorney, Joel Garson, during the hearing and asked Orange County Superior Court Judge Jonathan Fish if he could represent himself because he suspects his phone calls from jail, including those to his attorney, are being recorded.
The request came about a month after Fish ruled that Orange County Jail personnel may not monitor any legal phone calls between Waring and Garson or read Waring’s legal mail. Waring alleged Tuesday that county sheriff’s deputies have ignored that order.
“I can’t call [Garson] anymore because I have a suspicion they are recording my phone calls,” Waring said.
Waring, who as a teenager appeared with his mother on the Bravo reality TV show “The Real Housewives of Orange County,” is facing three counts of attempted murder and other felony and misdemeanor charges in connection with a shooting that injured a man at a former sober-living home on Babb Street in Costa Mesa in June 2016.
Waring, who has pleaded not guilty to all charges, could face multiple life prison sentences if convicted.
Fish granted Waring’s request Tuesday but warned him that prosecutors who have decades of legal experience would likely overmatch him as the case progresses to trial.
“I’m astounded,” Fish said. “You’re starting to tread into some deep and difficult waters.”
Garson requested in January that Fish dismiss the charges against Waring on the basis that law enforcement inappropriately monitored and recorded Waring’s phone calls in jail while he was representing himself for about a month in 2016 and after he sought help from an attorney. He said information gleaned from the calls was provided to prosecutors. The calls should have been confidential, Garson said.
Garson has said Waring was being recorded from June 25, 2016, to at least Feb. 8, 2017.
“These actions by the prosecution team constitute outrageous government conduct,” Garson wrote in his January motion.
Garson has claimed the recordings were done in violation of a Superior Court order that granted Waring “unmonitored collect phone calls.” That provision is standard for defendants’ conversations with their attorneys and for those representing themselves.
But Deputy Dist. Atty. John Maxfield has said Waring was required to request unmonitored calls if he wanted them.
“By not requesting access to those calls, he has no one to blame but himself for the recording of these phone conversations,” Maxfield wrote. “The Sheriff’s Department is not a mind reader.”
In the past several months, Garson and prosecutors have questioned various witnesses — including Peterson and her ex-husband, Phillip Waring, Joshua’s father — during several hearings to determine whether Joshua’s rights were violated.
Peterson, a cast member on “Real Housewives” from 2006 to 2008, testified last month that she believed the calls with her son, in which they discussed defense strategies and questions to ask during court hearings, were not being recorded.
“I honestly had belief and trust the phone calls were not being monitored,” she said.
Maxfield has argued that a message played at the onset of jail phone calls notes that the conversations are recorded, so Waring’s parents should have been aware of that.
The message is played for all calls made from jail phones, including those from inmates to attorneys, according to testimony from an employee of Global Tel Link, a communications company that contracts with the Sheriff’s Department to provide phone service in the jail.
Fish has not ruled on Garson’s motion to dismiss the charges. Waring and prosecutors are expected to appear in court next month to question additional witnesses in the matter.
Fry writes for Times Community News.