The Trials and Tribulations of Doug Mulder – Part I
Douglas D. Mulder’s introduction to the case of Darlie Routier was perhaps as clumsy as his eventual representation of his future client. Darlie had been charged with the murders of her two eldest sons, Devon and Damon, on June 6 of 1996. While she would only be tried for the alleged murder of Damon, she was facing a probable death sentence if convicted.
On June 28, the court appointed Douglas Parks as lead attorney to represent Darlie, with Wayne Huff to assist. Blake Withrow also appeared “for the purpose the appeal”. This team handled several pre-trial hearings until Mulder’s first foray into the case at a hearing on September 20 to determine whether a gag order had been violated. Interestingly, he was to represent both Darin Routier and Darlie Kee. The court ruled that they (along with Chief Bob Knowles) had not transgressed the conditions of the order.
At the same hearing, Judge Mark Tolle inquired of Darin Routier whether he had retained Mulder to represent Darlie going forward, to which he replied “no”. When asked “To your knowledge, has your wife made any arrangements to have Mr. Mulder represent her?” again he replied “no”.
Mulder then stated that he had been retained by Darlie Kee to act as a consultant and assist Parks, Huff and Withrow. Whilst unable to find “any provision for a consultant” in the Code of Criminal Procedure, Judge Tolle instructed Mulder thusly;
“Now the attorneys of record in this case are Mr. Douglas Parks, the lead attorney, and Mr. Wayne Huff and Mr. Blake Withrow. You may also be present in the courtroom during the proceedings. However, you may not make or file any motions in this case, nor shall you be permitted to make any objections, question witnesses, or make any arguments. These will be the duties of the attorneys of record alone. Mr. Douglas Parks is the lead attorney and he, along with Mr. Wayne Huff and Mr. Blake Withrow are the attorneys of record, and they will make all of the decisions concerning the trial of this case, from the defense standpoint. Is that clear?”
Further, Judge Tolle advised Mulder that if he was to enter the case full time, a formal motion would need to be filed upon which the court would make its ruling.
The court did not have to wait long. On October 21, during what was to have been a jury voire dire hearing, a Motion for Substitution of Counsel, filed by Mulder, was before the court to be ruled upon.
MR. DOUGLAS MULDER: Judge, I have filed the motion and I would ask the Court to rule on it. The motion speaks for itself.
THE COURT: The motion states that Mrs. Routier – you have been retained by the defendant in connection with this cause; is that correct?
MR. DOUGLAS MULDER: By the defendant’s family.
THE COURT: Well, I understand that you have been retained to represent Mrs. Routier in this case?
MR. DOUGLAS MULDER: Yes, sir, with your permission.
THE COURT: And you will represent her for all purposes?
MR. DOUGLAS MULDER: For all trial purposes.
THE COURT: I understand, for all trial purposes. You are prepared to come into the trial right now, with no delays or anything like that; is that correct?
MR. DOUGLAS MULDER: Judge, no foreseeable delays.
THE COURT: We understand what you are saying. In other words, we’re picking a jury, we’re starting our jury selection today, so you are prepared to go forward with that; is that correct?
MR. DOUGLAS MULDER: Yes, sir, at this time we are.
THE COURT: All right.
Douglas Parks was to later state in an affidavit attached to Darlie’s Writ of Habeas Corpus that he saw Mulder’s representing both Darin and Darlie Kee as a conflict of interest. In his affidavit, Parks stated that when he had learned several weeks prior of Mulder “considering whether to accept employment as counsel for Darlie Routier”, he “became concerned that Mr. Mulder would be unable to represent both Darlie and Darin Routier without breaching his duty of loyalty to one or both clients”.
Parks went further, observing Mulder’s scant knowledge of his client’s case and that he felt “a zealous defense of Ms. Routier necessarily involves implicating her husband, Darin Eugene Routier, in the death of Damon”, something which Mulder had reservations about and went so far as to agree not to pursue Darin as a potential suspect.
It was Parks’ intention to introduce evidence which would have cast suspicion upon Darin Routier as a possible suspect in the murders, while, at the same time, creating reasonable doubt as to Darlie’s guilt. The least of that evidence would have been blood found on the waistband of a pair of Darin’s underwear. Parks was perplexed when Mulder summarily dismissed the notion of Darin’s possible involvement, given that Mulder was yet to have even studied the results of the defense’s investigation.
It is open to debate whether he did in fact study them, given his lacklustre performance at trial. That and other Mulder moments, which include his dubious past as a state prosecutor, will be addressed in future installments.