JONESBOROUGH, Tenn. (WJHL) — Today marked the final day of hearings in Howard Hawk Willis’ post-conviction trial.
Now, Judge Thomas Wright needs to answer a question the courtroom has posed: Were Willis’ 6th amendment rights violated during his original trial?
“There’s a reason why our founding fathers said everybody gets a lawyer,” said Joshua Hedrick an attorney on Willis’ defense team. “And especially when it’s a literal matter of life or death.”
There are many other issues that come from this such as if there should be a cutoff point for how many attorneys someone can go through.
“It’s extreme to say there’s no cutoff,” said Hedrick. “I would not say there’s no cutoff, but what I would say is, if you have a person who’s got a legitimate complaint. If you’ve got a person who’s just got nonsense, that’s one thing. But, in this case, Mr. Willis had legitimate complaints. Maybe he was right and maybe he was wrong, but they weren’t just out of left field.”
This leads to another issue of how to determine a legitimate complaint. Who determines if the complaint is legitimate?
Hedrick believes this test of legitimacy should be based on the attorney’s patience.
“Patience is the key to working through a problem like this,” said Hedrick. “Sometimes what it takes more than anything is not authority, but patience.”
Both the defense team and prosecutor submitted their closing arguments to Judge Wright. His decision is expected to be made in either May or June.
If he finds there are constitutional problems with Willis’ prior conviction case, then Judge Wright could order a re-trial.
If Judge Wright does not grant this re-trial, Willis’ defense team said they plan on continuing to appeal his case.