Judge rules firm must appoint new attorney for Forks man

Dickinson facing kidnapping, rape charges

PORT TOWNSEND — A Jefferson County judge denied a law firm’s request to withdraw from a case that involves a Forks man facing charges of kidnapping and rape.

Superior Court Judge Keith Harper found that Benjamin & Healy of Tacoma should assign another attorney to represent Richard Aaron Dickinson, 33, who appeared in court by video Thursday from the county jail.

Dickinson was charged in March with first-degree kidnapping and second-degree rape, both Class A felonies punishable by up to life in prison and/or a $50,000 fine.

He also faces second-degree assault charges and alleged violation of a no-contact order in Jefferson County, and he has additional felony charges in Clallam County.

Dickinson has remained at the Jefferson County Jail since March 16 with a total bail amount of $300,120.

Carrie Fulton-Brown, an attorney for Benjamin & Healy, argued via telephone Thursday that the firm should be able to withdraw because the original assigned attorney, Elissa Brine, left the firm to take a position at a public defender’s office.

Dickinson expressed frustration during a hearing last Friday, saying his family has helped him pay for the firm, but an attorney has not been in contact with him.

“This law firm has left me completely in the dark with this whole situation,” Dickinson told the court last week.

Dickinson went on to say he’s spent $9,500 above and beyond what was required to be represented, although Harper told him he wasn’t going to have anything to do with his fee dispute.

At last week’s hearing, Dickinson said he wanted a refund from the law firm and to be represented by Jefferson Associated Counsel, but he changed his stance Thursday despite saying he’s made it “no further with this law firm than the secretary” when he attempts to make contact.

“I ask for them to represent me on this case,” Dickinson said Thursday, again citing the dollar amount. “They’ve been paid in full.”

Despite Fulton-Brown’s argument that her firm could not effectively represent Dickinson at this time, Harper ruled that another attorney from the firm be assigned.

“In my mind, there has not been a sufficient showing of a breakdown in communication such that the firm can not represent Mr. Dickinson effectively,” Harper said.

County Prosecuting Attorney James Kennedy said he was “mostly a wallflower” for the hearing but suggested the breakdown in communication might have occurred because Brine left the firm.

“For my part, I would be happy to get with this new attorney and do everything I can do to get them caught up,” Kennedy said.

Dickinson’s three-day trial dates remain Oct. 28-31, but a status hearing was set for Oct. 11, when new trial dates likely will be set.

Dickinson’s charges stem from a March 7 incident in which a woman told law enforcement officers Dickinson abducted her on the west end of Clallam County and took her to the west end of Jefferson County, where he allegedly sexually assaulted her, according to court documents.

The woman’s statement to police said Dickinson forcefully removed her from her car and forced her into his truck before he drove to an abandoned home. The woman alleged Dickinson took her to a secluded area and sexually assaulted her, according to the report.

There were three no-contact orders protecting the woman from Dickinson at the time, according to court records.

Jefferson County Sheriff Joe Nole said at the time that Dickinson was arrested by a Forks police officer after Dickinson had been hiding in the crawlspace at a relative’s home.

Dickinson’s charges in Clallam County include second-degree assault, second-degree assault of a child, reckless driving and violating a no-contact order with two or more previous convictions, according to court records.

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Jefferson County Managing Editor Brian McLean can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 6, or at bmclean@peninsuladailynews.com.

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