CHEYENNE – A man arrested in Cheyenne back in December on felony drug charges has lost a second lawyer since his case started.
Jonathon Swan is currently facing federal felony charges of possession of more than 500 grams of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute, and carrying a firearm during a drug trafficking crime. And he is set to enter his trial in Casper with a new lawyer after his most recent attorney asked to be removed from the case.
Swan’s former attorney, Eric Palen, filed a petition to be removed from the case on April 1, citing Swan’s unwillingness to cooperate or communicate with his legal council and Swan’s own request to represent himself in court.
“There has been a complete breakdown of communication in this matter. Despite continued efforts by counsel, communication between counsel and the Defendant has broken down and is irretrievable,” Palen’s request said. “(Swan) continues to refuse to speak to counsel and meetings which do occur are volatile.
Palen also cited Swan’s direct communication with the judge in the case as another reason he wished to be recused, as well as the fact Swan has filed complaints to the Wyoming State Bar against him, creating a conflict of interest.
The federal judge in the case granted Palen’s request Monday and said new legal representation would be assigned to Swan from the Criminal Justice Act Panel. That group is made up of lawyers who volunteer to act as defense lawyers when a client can’t afford representation.
Palen had been assigned to Swan from the Criminal Justice Act Panel after Swan’s federal public defender asked to be recused from the case back in January. The request was made in part due to Swan’s desire to defend himself and confidential conflicts of interest the federal public defender cited in their request.
The changes in representation have delayed the trail, which was set to begin in Casper this coming Monday.
Swan’s December arrest was a result of a months-long investigation started by the Cheyenne Police Department in August that identified him as a potential drug dealer in Cheyenne.
During the investigation, CPD alleged detectives investigating Swan saw numerous people enter and leave his home in a manner that was consistent with drug dealing.
After applying for and receiving a warrant to attach a GPS tracker on Swan’s car, CPD and members of the Northern Colorado Drug Task Force worked to track Swan while he drove to Aurora, Colorado. A member of the task force alleged Swan picked up a package from an apartment in Aurora and travel back up to Cheyenne on Dec. 16.
During a traffic stop in Cheyenne later that night for an obstructed temporary tag, a CPD K-9 unit indicated there were drugs in the vehicle, which led to the search of Swan’s car.
About 2.1 pounds of methamphetamine were found in the vehicle, along with materials CPD alleged were to be used for distributing the drugs.