Thursday, October 5, 2017

Missouri judge orders prosecution to produce excessive-force complaints against deputies who were present for eviction that led to Carol's broken arm

Judge Margaret Holden Palmietto
Prosecutors must produce all citizen complaints from the past three years alleging excessive force against deputies who were on the scene for our unlawful eviction in September 2015, a Missouri judge ruled yesterday.

The prosecution had argued that such information was not material to the "assault of a law enforcement officer" charge against my wife, Carol. But Public Defender Patty Poe argued that the encounter with police left Carol with a broken arm that required hospitalization and surgery, making the histories of involved officers material to the pending criminal case.

Poe had asked in her Motion to Compel for such complaints against all Greene County Sheriff deputies over the past five years, but she acknowledged at oral argument that request might be a bit much. Judge Margaret Holden Palmietto agreed that it was overbroad, but she narrowed it to complaints over the past three years, against all officers who were present for our eviction. (Motion to Compel is embedded at the end of this post.)

Either way, we take the ruling as a significant victory for Carol. It appears to be an acknowledgement from the judge that this case is at least as much about violence committed against Carol as it is any alleged criminal act on her part. In fact, the case is 100 percent about violence against Carol because evidence shows that the victim, Officer Jeremy Lynn, acknowledges he "caused physical contact" with Carol -- and that is the central element in RSMo 565.083, Assault of a Law Enforcement Officer, Third Degree. That Lynn admits causing physical contact means Carol is innocent of the charge against her.

From Carol's arrest on Jan. 30, 2017, until Sept. 20, 2017, this case ambled along under the false assertion that Carol had perpetrated an assault, rather than being the victim of police brutality. The tone of the case began to shift during the September hearing -- away from a "cover charge," created by cops to discourage a federal civil complaint, and toward reality -- when Poe raised the issue of Carol's injuries in open court for the first time.

Prosecutor Nicholas Jain vigorously objected to any notion that he must produce citizen excessive-force complaints against deputies. But Judge Palmietto's ruling yesterday means he will have to do it, at least for officers who were on the scene of our eviction -- and that includes Sheriff Jim Arnott.

One issue is getting the prosecution to identify all of the officers on the scene that day. So far, they have identified only four deputies -- Debi Wade, Jeremy Lynn, Scott Harrison, and Christian Conrad. But more officers than that were present, so it appears prosecutors, cops, or both are trying to protect somebody.

Our understanding is that Jain is digging for other material -- dispatch logs, dash-cam recordings, electronic communications between and among officers -- that both sides have agreed he must produce.

Carol's hearing yesterday -- part of a "cattle call," with numerous other cases being heard -- was brief. But Judge Palmietto did ask the public defender about information regarding the eviction itself. I took that to mean the judge has some interest in whether the eviction was lawful, whether cops had any lawful grounds to be on the property. The answer, of course, is they did not. (See herehere, here, here, and here.) In my view, that is a critical aspect of this case, so I'm hopeful the judge sees it that way, too. Apparently the prosecution is gathering information on that issue.

The veil of corruption that has shrouded this case from the outset slowly is being peeled back. Will that process continue, and if so, what will it reveal?

That question is particularly intriguing because the issue of whether Carol assaulted an officer, in essence, already has been determined; the "victim," Jeremy Lynn, admits in his incident report that he "caused physical contact" with Carol, and under relevant Missouri law, that means she could not have assaulted him. Here are Lynn's own words:

There was a female, however, that had been trying to force the door closed and she was standing just behind the door and trying again to force it closed. She was very aggressive and fighting against the door. She was grabbed by her arms and restrained to stop her from harming one of us or herself. During this process she was pulling her arms away from me and tried to push me back with her arms and body. She was told to calm down repeatedly and ignored those commands. She was eventually handcuffed and taken outside.

Carol and her attorney have not yet filed a motion regarding Lynn's statement, but when they do, it will mark about the sixth ground upon which the charge against Carol must be dropped. Lynn's statement shows that he initiated contact with Carol, and she tried to get away from him, as opposed to "getting physical" by pushing him, as alleged in charging documents.

As it becomes clear to the court that the prosecution has no case, attention should turn fully to what this matter is really all about -- gross physical abuse against Carol and creation of a "cover charge" to help cover up that abuse.

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