CANTON Anthony J. Peterkin Sr. on Thursday persuaded St. Lawrence County Court Judge Jerome J. Richards to let him represent himself against drug charges laid last year in Ogdensburg.
The Watertown man was less successful in attempts to argue that he should be released on his own recognizance due to a case of mistaken identity.
Mr. Peterkin, 49, was indicted on charges of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance after he allegedly sold cocaine in Ogdensburg on March 21, 2012.
When he appeared before Judge Richards for arraignment Thursday, Mr. Peterkin, who is not an attorney, said he wished to represent himself. The judge advised Mr. Peterkin of his right to counsel and questioned him about his experience with legal issues.
Mr. Peterkin told the judge he previously represented himself at four other trials, resulting in not-guilty verdicts in three of them.
After advising Mr. Peterkin that any mistakes would be treated the same as if they were made by an attorney, the judge granted his request.
In February 2012, a federal judge dismissed a civil rights lawsuit by Mr. Peterkin claiming he was maliciously prosecuted by Jefferson Countys district attorney and an acting County Court judge. Previous newspaper reports show he also has acted as his own attorney in Jefferson County Court and won an acquittal on a felony assault charge in 2002.
Assistant District Attorney Joshua HaberkornHalm asked that Mr. Peterkin be held on appropriate bail before trial, given a criminal history of 18 convictions, including two felonies.
Mr. Peterkin replied that he should be released on his own recognizance, claiming he couldnt have committed the crime because he was in the Metro-Jefferson Public Safety Building on unrelated charges at the time.
Perhaps there was another black man they got their cocaine from, because it was certainly not me, Mr. Peterkin said.
Mr. HaberkornHalm contacted Jefferson County officials and told the judge they said Mr. Peterkin was not in custody there on March 21, 2012, only entering the facility on March 30.
Mr. Peterkin insisted he was jailed at the time and said Mr. HaberkornHalm should perform a more thorough check of booking records.
The judge sent Mr. Peterkin to the St. Lawrence County Correctional Facility in lieu of $2,500 cash or $5,000 bond, but also instructed Mr. HaberkornHalm to seek Jefferson Countys booking records for all of March 2012 and provide a copy to Mr. Peterkin.