LEWISTOWN - The defense attorney representing a man already serving time for a rape conviction in Lancaster County failed to appear for a jury trial scheduled to take place on Tuesday in Mifflin County.
Christopher Basner represents Barry L. Rhodes, 62, who was supposed to stand trial on aggravated indecent assault charges on Tuesday. Rhodes' charges stem from an alleged assault on a 14-year-old girl in July of 2009 at a McVeytown home.
Rhodes was convicted of rape and other related offenses in September 2011 in the Lancaster Court of Common Pleas. He is currently serving a 20-to-42 year sentence in a state correctional facility, according to court documents.
At 8:30 a.m., everyone who needed to be in court for the case were present, however court officials announced Basner was having car trouble in Harrisburg and would be late. Basner lives in New Jersey and has an office in Newport, Perry County.
Several hours later, jurors were dismissed for the day and President Judge Timothy S. Searer said he was not going to make the jurors wait any longer.
Searer said Basner had been in contact with the Mifflin County District Attorney's office throughout the morning, but at no point did he contact court administration or the judges' chambers.
Searer said he was told Basner's car troubles escalated throughout the morning from a flat tire to a damaged strut.
Although Searer gave Basner the benefit of the doubt, he couldn't help but point out that, "Mr. Basner is gaining a reputation in Central Pennsylvania for this kind of behavior."
Assistant District Attorney Mark Remy, who was set to prosecute the case, said he would like the record to reflect he was "ready, willing and able" to try the case.
In his decades as an attorney, Remy said he has never seen anything like this, "it's unprecedented."
Remy said he has, in the past, had defendants not show up for a court date, but "never had counsel fail to appear for a jury trial."
Attempts to reach Basner for further comment at two separate phone numbers, including his satellite office in Newport, which was disconnected, were unsuccessful.
A new trial date for Rhodes has not been scheduled.