The motions were filed on Tuesday, and we had a hearing yesterday morning before Greene County Circuit Judge Margaret Holden Palmietto. Neither she, nor assistant prosecuting attorney Nicholas Jain, had been able to review the motions, so not much was accomplished yesterday. A hearing on the motions, and others that might arise in the interim, is set for May 3.
We've seen no evidence so far to suggest Palmietto is anything other than a competent and honest judge -- although given our experiences, we always are on the alert for signs of malfeasance. If she is, in fact, what we hope she is, the decision to dismiss the charges should be an easy one.
Carol's first motion for dismissal is based on a Probable Cause (PC) Statement that was made in bad faith and includes numerous false statements that should put its author, Lt. Debi Wade, at risk of criminal prosecution. Aside from all the nuttiness in Wade's handiwork, this much can't be disputed: A Misdemeanor Information filed by Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson charges Carol with one count of "assault on a law enforcement officer," claiming she pushed a male officer named Jeremy Lynn. Wade admits in her PC Statement that she did not witness Carol push Wade, but some unknown person "advised" her on the matter. It's hard to imagine a more blatant case of inadmissible hearsay -- and that means the charge must be dropped, as a matter of law.
It also calls Wade's credibility, overall, into question. From Carol's Motion to Dismiss:
In the probable cause statement, Debi Wade claims Carol Shuler “assaulted” Capt. Jeremy Lynn in the entryway of the residence. Wade then states: “I was not witness to that assault, however, I was advised that Carol first pushed the door from inside when Capt. Lynn attempted entry with the key, then got physical with him once inside the threshold and pushed him repeatedly.”
Wade admits she did not witness this incident and says an unnamed individual “advised her of what happened.” This is rank hearsay, and it is the only information in the probable cause statement about the alleged assault on Jeremy Lynn. This information is due to be excluded as hearsay, and since it’s the only information regarding the only alleged incident of assault, the charge is due to be dismissed.
A charge that is based on zero probable cause must be dismissed, so that should be a simple matter. But Carol took the extra step of filing a "Motion to Have This Matter Declared a Vindictive Prosecution and to Have it Dismissed As Such." What is a vindictive prosecution? This is from a Missouri case styled State v. Potts (Mo. Ct. of App. 2005), which involved drug charges:
[Potts] alleges that the prosecutor acted vindictively when he raised the charge from possession of a controlled substance to possession with the intent to distribute after the trial court sustained Appellant's motion for a mistrial during voir dire. He also argues that the prosecutor deliberately induced the mistrial in order to file the greater charge and as a result double jeopardy bars further prosecution on either charge. We conclude that the first part of that contention requires reversal . . .
Here is more, from Potts, on the legal concept of vindictive prosecution:
When the State has probable cause to believe a crime has been committed, the “decision whether or not to prosecute and what charges to file generally rests entirely within the prosecutor's discretion.” . . . This decision is rarely subject to judicial review. . . . Not all charges that can be, must be filed in the initial indictment. . . . Prosecutors can hold some charges in abeyance for strategic use.
However, when such a decision comes after an accused has exercised a constitutional or statutory right, those principles conflict with the premise that “[t]o punish a person because he has done what the law plainly allows him to do is a due process violation of the most basic sort.” [Potts] relies on Blackledge v. Perry, 417 U.S. 21, 94 S.Ct. 2098, 40 L.Ed.2d 628 (1974), for the proposition that due process bars the State from retrying him on the higher charge.
In Carol's case, she is being punished for three vindictive reasons: (1) Because we exercised our right to challenge, and even file an appeal, of landlord Trent Cowherd's attempt to evict us; (2) Because I have continued to blog about political and legal corruption in Alabama and Missouri -- and the determination to pursue charges against Carol, curiously, came not long after I had published sensitive information about Trump Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who now finds himself at the center of "Kremlingate," which threatens to become perhaps the most outrageous scandal in U.S. history; (3) Because it's clear we have grounds for a civil-rights/police-brutality lawsuit against the sheriff (and others) responsible for Carol's broken arm.
The vindictive prosecution motion should not come into play because the lack of probable cause is enough to doom the prosecution's case. But Carol's motion points to considerable evidence that the charges against her have nothing to do with any alleged crime, but rather are based on notions of intimidation, retaliation, and vindictiveness. In essence, the state is trying to blame her for cops breaking her arm. In sociology classes, that's called "Blaming the Victim." And we are learning that it's very real.
As for discovery, Carol's initial motion touched on general matters, with more specifics to follow. From the motion:
As an initial matter, Shuler moves this court to order the state to turn over all documents related to an investigation of a “critical incident” involving use of force, as required by Greene County Sheriff’s Department policy. Shuler notes that policy calls for interviews of all individuals targeted with use of force and all witnesses, but neither Carol Shuler nor her husband, Roger, have been interviewed. That suggests no investigation was done -- or at least, that any such investigation was incomplete.
Regardless, Shuler moves that all documents related to a GCSO investigative report that was supposed to be prepared per departmental policy – including all internal memos, emails, texts or other written or electronic forms of communication – be turned over as soon as possible.
As a matter of law, Carol is entitled to this information, and much more, which should help her mount a serious defense.
Carol's motions are being scanned into a digital format and will be published here shortly. Meanwhile, she has sent the message that screwing around with her is not going to be a joyride for prosecutors -- or the sheriff's office.