FAIRBANKS (AP) -- A judge has rejected a request by convicted murderer Burns Frank to replace his lawyer before his sentencing date later this month.
Judge Jane Kauvar told Frank Monday that he should cooperate with attorney Paul Canarsky through his Nov. 28 sentencing rather than chance a harsher penalty. After sentencing, Kauvar said, Frank could begin the process of appealing his conviction for the 1998 stabbing death of his cousin.
A jury in June convicted Frank, 43, of second-degree murder after he stabbed Richard C. John to death while the two partied and drank at a motel.
After the trial, Canarsky asked for an independent observer to examine the difficulties he was having in representing Frank.
''Mr. Frank essentially announces dissatisfaction with counsel when counsel goes to visit Mr. Franks and then leaves the attorney visiting room,'' Canarsky wrote in a motion urging the Office of Public Advocacy to examine the case. ''There is no communication.''
Canarsky wrote it is ''clear ... that Mr. Frank is often at a complete loss within the judicial system. First, he understands only the most basic English. Second, Mr. Frank is a very concrete person with no meaningful ability to conceptualize the dozens of legal principles, including core rights, involved in his case.''
Public advocate David Allen reported to the judge on Monday that he had no basis for a recommendation to change Frank's counsel. But he suggested that the judge could ''relax the rules somewhat'' and appoint Frank's appellate counsel before his sentencing.
''It's a real difficult situation,'' Canarsky said. ''The breakdown in communication on Mr. Frank's part is affecting what I can do for him in sentencing.''
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