Criminal defense attorney echoes judge’s words about self-representation of suspect in journalist slaying

Robert Telles appears in court on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022.
Robert Telles appears in court on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022.(FOX5)
Published: Mar. 1, 2023 at 9:38 PM PST
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - Clark County District Court Judge Michelle Leavitt told murder suspect Robert Telles this week she doesn’t think it is ever a good idea to represent yourself in court, let alone a first-degree murder case.

Local criminal defense attorney Charles Goodwin agrees.

“Abe Lincoln once said a man who represents himself has a fool for a client,” said Goodwin.

Telles is accused of murdering Las Vegas Review-Journal journalist Jeff German for his reporting of alleged misconduct in the former public administrator’s office.

After some probing by Judge Leavitt, it was discovered Telles has only limited civil trial experience and no felony jury trial experience.

“A criminal and civil trial are completely different. The rules are different, the pace is different, and everything is different. This would be the equivalent of me saying hey, I have experience coaching my kid’s soccer team, I’m sure I’m ready to go coach the Golden Knights,” said Goodwin.

Goodwin says Telles will face challenges interviewing witnesses and filing court motions while behind bars. And he doesn’t believe Telles will receive much help from the courts if he gets lost in court because he doesn’t know proper procedures.

We also asked him how a jury might perceive a murder suspect acting as their own defense attorney.

“He’s not an objective party to this case. He is somebody who has a very high stake in the case. So, when he has a very high stake in the case, looking at life without parole, I think that the jury is going to look a little bit, and be like of course he’s going to say whatever he needs to say to get out,” said Goodwin.

Goodwin says in a case like this, someone may have only one shot to get things right.

Judge Leavitt told Telles if he doesn’t get the trial outcome he likes while representing himself, he can’t say on appeal he was bad at defending himself.

The trial has been set for November.