|Judge Margaret Holden Palmietto|
It was the first time Carol's injuries -- her left arm was broken so severely that it required hospitalization and trauma surgery (see here and here) -- have been revealed or discussed in court. What impact did that have on Judge Margaret Holden Palmietto? She has a pretty good poker face on the bench, so it's hard to answer that question. But a reasonable person might have thought, "The cops claim Mrs. Shuler assaulted one of their own -- Officer Jeremy Lynn -- and yet Mrs. Shuler was the one who wound up in the hospital, with a broken arm that required surgery. Who assaulted whom here, and did cops push for criminal charges against Mrs. Shuler to help cover up their brutal acts against her?"
Assistant Prosecutor Nicholas Jain has been stonewalling on producing discovery in the case, so Public Defender Patty Poe filed a Motion to Compel on Carol's behalf, and a hearing on that motion was conducted yesterday. Discussion quickly turned toward the injuries Carol sustained during our unlawful eviction from a duplex apartment, owned by landlord Trent Cowherd, in September 2015. (Motion to Compel is embedded at the end of this post.)
Oral argument centered around four items the prosecution has failed to produce, and Poe spells them out in items 6 and 7, on page 2 of the motion:
6. Additionally, Ms. Poe emailed Assistant Prosecutor Nicholas Jain for additional discovery that falls outside of the media category. [Exhibit B].
7. That request included:
a. Copies of all communications between or among the Greene County Sheriff's Office regarding the eviction dated September 9, 2015.
b. Notes or reports from Deputy Scott Harrison regarding Mrs. 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.
Palmietto took the matter under advisement and scheduled the next appearance for Oct. 4. (See docket entries for 1631-CR07731 - ST V CAROL T SHULER at case.net.) The judge appeared set to order production of items a, b, and c. Item d was the main point of contention.
Jain argued that citizen complaints of excessive force were not relevant, based primarily on his interpretation of a case styled State ex rel. City of Springfield v. Brown, 181 SW 3d 219 (Mo. Court of Appeals, Southern Dist., 1st Div. 2005) Poe argued that Carol's injuries made any citizen complaints about excessive force relevant. From the Motion to Compel:
10. The last requested piece of material consists of citizen complaints or allegations of excessive violence or force by the Greene County Sheriff's Office in the last five years. The reason for such a request is based on the fact that after this altercation between Ms. Shuler and the Greene County Sheriff's Office, Ms. Shuler had to be taken to the hospital for a broken arm.
Our impression was that this might have been the first time Palmietto (or Jain, for that matter) had heard about Carol's injuries. They were mentioned prominently, with copies of X-rays, in at least one motion Carol filed while acting pro se. (See Amended Motion to Dismiss Charges Under Missouri's Castle Doctrine Law . . . ) Unfortunately, we've seen no sign that Palmietto has read any of Carol's pro se motions; the judge certainly has not heard oral argument on any of them, or ruled on them.
What do yesterday's developments mean for a bogus criminal case we've had hanging over our heads for eight months now? That the judge now knows Carol was brutalized by Greene County deputies seems to be a positive. At the same time, we continue to pick up troubling vibes from those involved in the case.
Carol filed pro se documents in March, April, and May that should have led to the case being dismissed; by law, it should not have dragged on this long. But Palmietto seems to have ignored those motions, and both she and Poe seem fine with the case going to trial -- even though the case cannot go to trial, on multiple constitutional and state-law grounds.
So, where is this case headed? You might say that Carol and I are "traffled" -- a combination of troubled and baffled. About all we can say for sure is that we should know more on Oct. 4