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John Hollenhorst reporting A lawyer who briefly claimed to represent kidnap suspect Brian Mitchell seems to have been ousted from the case after making remarks that raised many eyebrows over the weekend.
A high-profile case like this one tends to draw people like moths to the flame. And sometimes they get burned. That may be what happened to an attorney who claims he had a jailhouse meeting with Brian Mitchell.
Larry Long is known primarily as an attorney for people charged with drunk driving. He sends this form-letter advertising his services to many if not all inmates booked into the county jail. One line says, "Even if you feel you are guilty, DON'T PANIC!"
On Sunday he reached for the big-time, claiming to represent Brian Mitchell.
In a weekend interview with KUTV, Long made remarks many lawyers considered unprofessional, if not downright strange. He said Mitchell deserved a light sentence because he didn't KILL Elizabeth Smart. He claimed Mitchell loved her. And he referred to her nine-month "adventure."
That drew a contemptuous comment from the District Attorney.
David Yocom/District Attorney: "THE ATTORNEY'S COMMENTS, IF I COULD USE A VULGAR TERM I WOULD REFER TO IT AS BULL-SOMETHING. BUT THIS OBVIOUSLY WAS AN ORDEAL FOR THIS WOMAN, AND A TRAGIC, TRAGIC EVENT IN HER LIFE."
Long seems to be lying low after the weekend interview. He's not returned phone calls. His office staff won't reveal his whereabouts.
SECRETARY: "I HAVE NOTHING TO SAY. COMPANY ORDERS."
DAVID YOCOM/DISTRICT ATTORNEY: "I WAS TOLD THAT HE'D BEEN TOLD BY MR. MITCHELL HE WAS NOT HIS ATTORNEY, HE NEVER RETAINED HIM, HE DID NOT REPRESENT HIM AND HAD NO AUTHORITY TO SPEAK FOR HIM."
Long has a checkered career. In 1991 he was fined for contempt of court. In 1996, he was publicly reprimanded by the State Bar. And in an unrelated case he was sued by two men who said he spied on them with an electronic bugging device.
Mitchell has told some people he wants to act as his own attorney. Prosecutors say they prefer to deal with a vigorous, experienced defense attorney.
DAVID YOCOM/DISTRICT ATTORNEY: "WHEN A MAN ACTS AS HIS OWN ATTORNEY, OF COURSE, HE HAS A FOOL FOR A CLIENT."
When Mitchell is arraigned tomorrow, it's expected the judge will assign a lawyer to represent him, most likely someone from the Legal Defender's office.