Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Dash-cam recordings, computerized dispatch logs, and electronic communications are targets of Carol's discovery request to defend against "assault" charge

Dash cam
(From tulsaworld.com)
Dash-camera recordings are among the types of media my wife, Carol, is requesting in her defense of an "assault on a law enforcement officer" charge connected to our September 2015 eviction in Greene County, Missouri.

We have reported seeing six to eight officers on the scene that day. If they each drove individual vehicles, that means quite a few dash cams could have been in the area. Discovery documents show that Christian Conrad was one officer present at the eviction, and we have found a court case involving an incident from March 2010 in which Conrad is described as having a dash cam in his vehicle.

Our understanding is that deputies with the Greene County Sheriff's Office (GCSO) do not have body cams. But other forms of "media" likely were involved with our eviction, and they were a focus of Public Defender Patty Poe's Motion to Compel Disclosure, which was heard on Sept. 20 before Judge Margaret Holden Palmietto. After oral argument, Palmietto took the matter under advisement and scheduled the next appearance for Oct. 4.

In her Motion to Compel (embedded at the end of this post), Poe states she served all parties with a request for discovery, on or about May 15, 2017, pursuant to Missouri Supreme Court Rules 25.03 and 25.07. Poe goes on to state:

3. On July 10, 2017, an email was sent to Evelyn Keith of the Greene County Prosecuting Attorney's Office requesting media discovery pursuant to local practice. [Exhibit A]. 
4. The media request included CAD (Computer-Aided Dispatch) logs and recordings, 911 calls, dash camera recordings, and phones.

The prosecution received this request more than two months ago, but has it been responsive? Not exactly. From Poe's Motion to Compel, dated Aug. 29, 2017:

5. To date, defense counsel has only been provided a 911 call and photographs of Ms. Shuler.

Photos produced probably are ones Deputy Scott Harrison took of Carol's injuries at the Cox North Emergency Room after she complained of pain in her left arm. X-rays showed she had suffered a comminuted fracture, which means her arm was broken into three or more pieces, above the elbow.

How badly has the prosecution been stonewalling. Poe states in her motion that she sent an email to assistant prosecutor Nicholas Jain and requested the following material under No. 7:

a. Copies of all communications between or among the Greene County Sheriff's Office regarding the eviction dated September 9, 2015.  (This apparently includes emails, text messages, voice messages, and other forms of communication. We're not clear if it includes communications from outside the GCSO to anyone on the inside, regarding us or our eviction. If not, it needs to.)
b. Notes or reports from Deputy Scott Harrison regarding Ms. Shuler's injuries. 
c. Statements of any officer present at the scene on September 9, 2015. 
d. Citizen complaints or allegations of excessive violence or force by the Greene County Sheriff's Office in the past five years.

Item d was the focus of oral argument on Sept. 20 and likely will be at the heart of any ruling Judge Palmietto announces on Oct. 4. But there seems to be little doubt that items a, b, and c must be disclosed, by law. In fact, Poe argues that some of those items are required disclosures:

9.  The documents requested in 7(b) and 7(c) are required disclosures under 25.03. Deputy Harrison's notes or reports are "written or recorded statements" from a witness endorsed by the state. Deputy Harrison is an endorsed witness in the misdemeanor information. The statements of any officers present at the scene on September 9, 2015, is required under 25.03 (A)(1) as to Christian Conrad and Jeremy Lynn, as they are endorsed witnesses in the misdemeanor information. As to the other officers present at the scene, but not endorsed by the state, disclosure should be court ordered under 25.04. . . . The relevancy of any witness statement, report, or note is self-explanatory, as they are witnesses to an alleged crime.

Are Carol and her counsel in the position of just hoping the prosecution coughs up information it apparently wants to keep hidden? The answer is no:

13. Alternatively, since the state has either chosen not to comply, or does not have the ability to comply, Rule 25.03 (9)(c) provides that the court shall issue subpoenas or orders "to cause such material or information to be made available" to the defense.

How important is it for Carol to obtain this discovery? Poe spells it out:

15. The defense is unable to identify important legal issues and file relevant motions herein without disclosure of the aforementioned evidence from the state. As a result, the defendant would be prejudiced by the state's failure to disclose all of the aforementioned evidence.

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