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Counselor loses attorney over conflict of interest

"Oak Harbor attorney Christon Skinner lost a client last week. Island County Superior Court Judge Alan Hancock ruled during a hearing that Skinner has a conflict of interest and can no longer represent counselor Glenn Jolley in an indecent liberties case. The problem is that Skinner represented one of the potential witnesses against Jolley in her divorce case two years ago. She says she told Skinner about a run-in with Jolley, in which he allegedly acted inappropriately during a counseling session, and Skinner advised her not to pursue the matter. The 59-year-old mental health counselor, who had offices in both Oak Harbor and Freeland, was charged with indecent liberties Feb. 8. Jolley is accused of molesting a patient during a counseling session. Jolley has vehemently denied the accusation and claims the patient approached him. While investigating the case, detectives and prosecutors found at least 14 former clients of Jolley who claim he sexually assaulted, sexually harassed or acted inappropriately in a sexually tinged way during a counseling session. One of those former clients is the woman whom Skinner previously represented. Deputy Prosecutor Mike Henegen said in court May 29 that he will use the women's testimony to show that there was a pattern to the way Jolley preyed upon these women. Henegen said he could not move forward with the case until the conflict of interest issue is resolved. It's all hanging in the balance, he said. Skinner argued that he doesn't have a conflict of interest because his former client's testimony is inadmissible in the Jolley case. In a sort of Catch-22, Hancock said Skinner can't argue that the woman's testimony is inadmissible since that hasn't been determined by the court. Hancock will determine what is admissible after an evidentiary hearing where both sides will present their arguments. But Skinner can't represent Jolley in the hearing because he may have a conflict of interest - if the woman's testimony is admissible. A conflict of interest exists because Skinner could potentially use the confidences the woman shared with him - when they had an attorney-clients relationship - against her in court. As a result, Jolley's trial date of June 19 was stricken to allow him time to find a new attorney. His readiness hearing is set for June 15. "

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