Capital murder defendant James Calvert returned to court Thursday to continue pretrial preparations in his case. The hearing followed one last week in which Calvert accused prosecutors of illegally reviewing his secret defense plans and moved to have them taken off the case.
Calvert has made similar allegations in the past, which have always been met by a vehement denial from the state.
Calvert is accused of killing his ex-wife Jelena Sriraman on Halloween of 2012 and then kidnapping his young son before being caught on the run in Louisiana.
In February of 2014, Calvert fired his court-appointed attorneys and decided to represent himself. Since then, he has regularly tested the patience of the justice system during his hearings in front of 241st State District Judge Jack Skeen Jr.
Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham, First Assistant District Attorney April Sikes and Assistant District Attorney Mike West are representing the State of Texas in the case. Attorneys Jason Cassel and Jeff Haas are standby counsel for Calvert.
Judge Skeen had tabled the Calvert's motions relating to alleged prosecutorial misconduct pending the filing of briefs from both sides outlining the various legal arguments at hand. He took the issue back up first thing Thursday.
The motions make reference to an incident in 2014 in which Calvert's jail cell was raided and a county-owned laptop seized along with some printed materials based upon evidence that he was using the items to act as a jailhouse lawyer instead of furthering his own defense efforts.
Calvert complained that he had only just received the state's written responses a few minutes before the hearing and asked for additional time to respond himself.
Bingham countered that the responses were short and that the state would prefer the court to rule on the issue today.
"We just want to move on," Bingham said.
The judge granted Calvert's request for more time, saying he planned to add a mid-week pretrial hearing next week.
Bingham asked that the additional time be used by the defense's appointed computer expert to copy data from the laptop and to duplicate the printed pages seized from the cell in order to allow Judge Skeen to review the materials in private and make a determination as to whether any of it constitutes privileged information or "work product."
Skeen indicated he was amenable to the idea of reviewing the items, causing Calvert to object.
"My motion only has to do with paper items," Calvert said. "It doesn't concern the laptop."
Calvert continued to argue that the court had no reason to be looking at the contents of the laptop, to which Judge Skeen responded that there was no way of addressing Calvert's bevy of motions regarding the confidentiality of seized materials without having judicial knowledge of the contents of those items.
Calvert, at that point, became verbally combatant.
"I'm the one who's talking," Calvert said.
"Sit down Mr. Calvert," Judge Skeen said.