Kelsey Oka came back to state court in Pierre this month with a new lawyer and a new attitude to face the same judge.
That’s Circuit Judge Bridget Mayer, who was the target of an unusual string of profanity from Oka during an unsuccessful July 23 court hearing which led to an admittedly intoxicated Oka being escorted straight to jail.
After Oka had been taken out of the courtroom, her attorney in July, Tara Adamski, told Mayer she didn’t think she could represent her anymore.
Oka was arrested March 15 and charged with 15 counts, including two felonies of aggravated eluding of law enforcement. The other counts were petty or Class 2 misdemeanors involving traffic offenses such as speeding, not stopping for a light, and not having three small children buckled into child safety seats. By late March, a grand jury’s indictment led to a bill of five counts, including a Class 5 felony of aggravated eluding of law officers that could mean up to five years in prison on conviction.
Oka, who turns 27 next month, showed up late — hours late — to court on July 23. Judge Mayer said she looked tired and asked her if she had been making her appointments for drug and alcohol testing, as required. Oka said she had been drinking for two weeks. Mayer ordered a urine test for her.
Oka began unloading swear words at Mayer, saying she just wanted to plead guilty, and continued swearing at the judge.
Mayer told Oka she was too intoxicated to plead at all and ordered her taken to jail for testing and holding.
Oka’s tirade got louder as she was led out of the courthouse.
During her stay in jail, attorney Robert Konrad was appointed to represent Oka. One of his first moves was to give the court notice that Oka wanted to apologize.
Which she did last week to Mayer in court.
Her demeanor was entirely different from her July appearance, court officers said.
Mayer granted Konrad’s request for a furlough from jail for Oka so she could enter a 28-day residential treatment program in Yankton, which had a bed opening up on Aug. 7. The Hughes County Sheriff’s Office was to transport her to Yankton.
She is due back in court to face Judge Mayer on Sept. 17 on the charges from her March arrest.
No contempt of court charge was filed against Oka, in light of her larger charge and her apology, court officials said.