Wednesday, October 18, 2017

What was Prosecutor Dan Patterson thinking when he brought State v. Carol Shuler, a criminal case that provides no evidence of a crime being committed?


Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson
Like many Americans, I have supported the death penalty at some point in my life. I once thought, contrary to substantial evidence, that it served as a deterrent to violent crime. I assumed cops, prosecutors, judges, and juries were competent and honest enough to pretty much always get it right in capital cases.

My views on the death penalty began to change about 17 years ago, when the legal travails described in this blog began. That's when, for the first time in my life, I came face to face with our "justice system" in a personal way. I saw the system is riddled with dishonesty, fraud, self-dealing, back-stabbing, criminality, and utter disrespect for the rule of law. I saw that our justice apparatus is so broken that it routinely turns out judgments that are unreliable, unjust, and contrary to facts and law. I learned our appellate courts too often are unwilling to correct the grossly unlawful outcomes that trial courts spew out.

Such a system has no business taking anyone's life, no matter how heinous we think their crimes, so I have become an ardent opponent of the death penalty. I've come close to concluding that such a system has no business taking anyone's freedom either, so I'm almost anti-incarceration, across the board. On top of that, such a system has no business depriving citizens of their money, their homes, their real property, their personal property, their children, and much more. In other words, I've pretty much concluded our civil-justice system has become such a sewer that it needs to be drained and closed.

It would be fine with me if we turned our jails and prisons into racquetball courts, community health centers, technical colleges, manufacturing plants. I'm fine with turning our courthouses into rec centers, schools, primary-care clinics, museums.

What are we to do about crimes and other wrongs? I'm starting to think Charles Bronson might have had the right idea with his "take matters into your own hands" approach.

Nothing drives home these points quite like the pending criminal case against my wife, Carol, here in Greene County, Missouri. We've written a string of posts that show there was no probable cause to arrest Carol, much less prosecute her. The so-called officer/"victim" in the one remaining charge against Carol admits he "caused contact" with her, not the other way around, meaning she did not assault him.

The court docket shows Carol, acting pro se, filed documents in March, April, and May 2017, that should have, by law, forced dismissal of the case. (See case.net, 1631-CR07731 - ST V CAROL T SHULER.) And yet, Judge Margaret Holden Palmietto told Carol in open court that she was not going to consider Carol's motions until she had a lawyer or waived her right to an attorney. Carol chose to have an attorney, and that's how we wound up with a public defender who seems to be developing a personal view of the law that is wildly out of touch with the real law.

Aside from that, Carol's representation issue has been resolved for quite some time, and we still see no sign that the judge has even read motions that have been sitting for four to six months.

How bad is the case against Carol, how much of a farce is it? Not only does the "victim" acknowledge that he wasn't victimized at all, a key element of the offense has been missing all along. (More on that in a moment.)

Those who fondly remember the classic TV sitcom Cheers, might recall public reaction when Shelley Long left the series for a movie career that proved to be stillborn. Many wondered, "What was she thinking?"

A similar question might be asked of Greene County Prosecuting Attorney (PA) Dan Patterson. "What was he thinking when he brought State v. Carol Shuler?" His case looks like a balsa-wood shed after an encounter with Hurricane Irma. Let's review where it stands:

The Probable Cause (PC) Statement and Misdemeanor Information (MI), taken together, more or less brought three charges against Carol:

(1) In the PC Statement, Officer Debi Wade claims Carol "barreled into her head-first." I witnessed this supposed event from about 15 feet away, and nothing even close to that happened. Patterson apparently agrees with me because his office did not bring the claim against Carol in the MI, its charging document.

Can Wade's claim, as an attorney close to the case has suggested, be incorporated into the charges against Carol -- even though the MI charging document makes no mention of it? The answer is no. (See State v. Metzinger, Mo. Ct. of App., 2015.) That means Wade's claim is dead on arrival; in fact, it never arrived at all because the prosecutor didn't bring it.

(2) Count 2 in the MI was a charge for trespass. It had a slight problem: The PC Statement, which is supposed to provide evidence to support the charge, said not one word about it. Public Defender Patty Poe moved for dismissal, and despite Assistant PA Nicholas Jain's spirited argument, Judge Palmietto booted that charge.

(3) Count 1 in the MI was for Assault of a Law Enforcement Officer, Third Degree. Under Missouri law, the issue in such a charge is: Did the defendant cause contact with a law enforcement officer? Carol is alleged to have pushed Officer Jeremy Lynn. But Lynn admits in his incident report that he "caused contact" with Carol, by grabbing her. This is the one remaining charge against Carol, but it should be booted soon.

What about that element of the offense that has been missing all along? Under RSMo. 565.083, a defendant commits the offense when "such person knowingly causes or attempts to cause physical contact with a law enforcement officer . . . ."

Notice that word in yellow: knowingly. It must be present for this offense to have been committed. What does "knowingly" mean? The answer is found in RSMo. 556.061 (Code Definitions), which reads, in part:

(31) "Knowingly", when used with respect to:

(a) Conduct or attendant circumstances, means a person is aware of the nature of his or her conduct or that those circumstances exist; or

(b) A result of conduct, means a person is aware that his or her conduct is practically certain to cause that result;

Was Carol aware that she was "assaulting" Jeremy Lynn? Hell, Officer Lynn's own words show HE wasn't aware she was assaulting him. So how could Carol be aware of it? Plus, court documents show we timely filed a Notice of Appeal (with fees), and the Missouri Court of Appeals had received our notice. Carol had a reasonable belief that put a stay on the eviction, and in fact, it did.

Despite that, Carol found a strange man breaking into her home -- without lawful grounds for doing so -- and grabbing her. Under those circumstances, Carol "knowingly" was trying to protect her home and its inhabitants -- as she is entitled to do under Missouri's Castle Doctrine Law. Jeremy Lynn probably is lucky he didn't get a frying pan smashed into his cranium, which Carol was entitled to do under the law. Either way, the "knowingly" element is missing, meaning the assault charge is kaput.

So, what does PA Dan Patterson have to show for bringing State v. Carol Shuler? He has:

(1) A "sort of" claim from Debi Wade that never even made it into the charging document;

(2) A trespass charge that had no evidentiary support, and was dismissed;

(3) An assault charge that even the "victim" admits, in so many words, isn't supported by evidence.

The people of Missouri, whose tax dollars support such prosecutorial nonsense, have every right to ask Patterson: "What in the hell were you thinking?"

And this is a guy who surely has helped send people to death row. He can't handle State v. Carol Shuler; he certainly should not be handling matters of life and death.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

This prosecutor needs to be investigated. To bring criminal charges when the "victim" admits the crime didn't happen, is so corrupt it makes my head spin.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like Carol might have a judge with some integrity on this, especially now that judge is aware Carol wound up with a broken arm. That makes me feel a little bit better about it, but still a disgrace.

Anonymous said...

Carol has been a political prisoner, just like Don Siegelman. At least with Siegelman, the feds were able to make up a "crime" to pin on the gov. With Carol, these jokers can't even do that.

Anonymous said...

I guess being a law-and-order Christian Republican among the Ozark hillbillies means trying to jail someone you know committed no crime.

legalschnauzer said...

@9:58 --

I'm not sure what Patterson and his staff knew when they brought this joke of a case. It almost seems like the probable cause statement and misdemeanor information were filed without anyone reading them.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see you have changed course on the death penalty.

legalschnauzer said...

@11:09 --

I am, too. Actually experiencing the "justice" system will do that for you.

Anonymous said...

We wouldn't have such cases if we didn't have prosecutorial immunity to protect lowlifes like this dude in Missouri.

Anonymous said...

Question of the day: Which is worse, incompetence or corruption?

legalschnauzer said...

@11:12 --

You nailed it. Carol and I, our lives essentially have been ruined by judicial immunity and prosecutorial immunity. If judges and prosecutors could be held liable (financially) for their corrupt acts, our justice system would change dramatically overnight -- and it might actually dispense justice.

I've said it many times, and it bears repeating: You can't have an honor system run by dishonorable people. It always will fail, and that's why we have a broken system now.

Anonymous said...

FYI "caused contact" does not mean "initiated contact" - even if it did, which it doesn't, Carol pushing a door against the officer led to him restraining her or attempting to. The complaint lays out that when he did this, she fought him. She pushed pulled, flailed against him, kicking, using her body to bump him, etc. IOW fighting the restraint instead of submitting or being still. He describes that contact in sufficient detail to support the charge.
If there is a defense (such as his illegal presence, etc)for that fighting against the officer with kick and body blows, that is a different issue. If she was justified in resisting, attempting to push the officer away or to escape his grasp would not be a crime.

She did cause contact. The relevant contact in the complaint to support the charge is distinct from the contact he decided to make with her (to grab her arms IIRC).

legalschnauzer said...

@11:33 --

Nice try, but you are wrong. Caused contact means exactly what it says. The cop grabbed Carol, not the other way around. Try actually reading the Probable Cause Statement. Debi Wade, the author of it, admits she didn't witness Carol do anything -- rather, she was "advised" by an unnamed person. You say "he [Lynn?] describes that contact in sufficient detail to support the charge." Lynn doesn't describe it at all. Debi Wade describes it, based on the word of an unknown "adviser." That does not come close to supporting probable cause and it violates Carol's Sixth Amendment right to confront her accuser.

In essence there is no accuser in this case. Jeremy Lynn doesn't accuse Carol of assault and neither does Debi Wade. No known person accuses Carol of anything. No named person says Carol pushed against a door, touched Jeremy Lynn, or did anything that remotely constitutes a crime. On top of that, you are just pulling a lot of stuff out of your ass. Even the "adviseer" doesn't claim Carol "flailed," or "kicked," or "bumped" anyone. You must be a cop because you sure lie and make stuff up like one.

Finally, Carol is charged with assaulting an officer, not "fighting the restraint" or "failing to submit" or whatever else you can find in your anal cavity. She's not charged with "resisting" because she wasn't under arrest. You should apply at the Greene County Sheriff's Office because your utter lack of knowledge about the law matches theirs. Even if she touched a door, and no named person claims she did, she made contact with her own door, not Jeremy Lynn. If you think that qualifies as an "assault" under Missouri law, you truly are out to lunch.

The essence of the assault claim, under Missouri law, is who caused contact with whom. Jeremy Lynn admits he grabbed Carol, and you seem to admit the same thing -- that he grabbed her and tried to restrain her, even though his own words show she was trying to get away from him.

I notice that you don't cite any law to support your contentions, and that's because there isn't any.

Here are two words to describe you and your comment -- weak and pathetic (and pitiful, make that three words). If you want to try to defend your position, contact me by private email or phone, and I will be glad to discuss. Look forward to hearing from you.

Anonymous said...

Earth to 11:33 . . . come in, 11:33!!

Anonymous said...

Do I have this straight? @11:33 contends that making contact with a door is the same as "assaulting a police officer," that you can be sent to jail for leaning against your own door?

We're supposed to take @11:33 seriously?

Oh, I get it -- Carol is charged with assaulting a door.

Help me, Lord Jeebus!

legalschnauzer said...

@2:10 --

I'm not sure @11:33 realizes how stupid he sounds -- or if he even intends to be taken seriously.

My guess is that @11:33 is part of the legal/law enforcement world, and those types have a tendency to think they can blow any amount of smoke up the public's ass and get away with it. In other words, they think you and I and all my readers are stupid.

They don't realize that we have an intelligent audience, and a clownish act isn't going to play here. Maybe in Peoria, but not here.

Anonymous said...

I assume 11:33 has crawled back under a rock after Mr. Schnauzer blistered his ass.

Anonymous said...

Yes, trying to push an officer back by whacking him with a door can be a crime. But after gaining entry, and making the choice to restrain Carol, even if he makes "first contact" if she kicks, pushes, or throws her body weight against him in an attempt to get away, that is "causing contact." This is what is alleged to have occurred, and it is a sufficient basis to charge. Causing contact isn't limited to initiating contact, and the officer initiating contact doesn't excuse any pushing, kicking, or bumping or other fighting on Carol's part. If the officer had a good faith basis to enter the premises and restrain Carol, her fighting back in the ways described is a crime, even if the officer isn't hurt.

Her's a question that changes nothing, but which you have never fully explained. What did Carol,think she was going to accomplish by pushing, kicking, and throwing her weight against the officer attempting to restrain her? Or even fighting against the door, for that matter? SHe had to have understood that the officers would gain entry and that barricading or shitting the door against the officers was of no practical use. These are officers who believed they were there to carry out a court ordered eviction, and who had received information that you were potentially dangerous. What was the rational, practical benefit to be gained by her reaction? a better way to deal with the situation would have been to begin preparing to move, since it was clear the landlord wanted you to leave (and you weren't even paying rent.) You could have sued for damages after the fact if they breached your lease, you know.

Anonymous said...

Caused contact does not mean initiated, it means caused. You cause contact if you deliberately push someone, or out you hands on them. EVery time she threw her weight against him or pushed him would be "causing contact". It's not a game of who started, it's did she deliberately make contact with the officer. YOu can ask her public defender.

legalschnauzer said...

@11:59/12:02 --

Back for more, I see, and still no citations to law to support anything you say. Gee, that's a surprise. A few points:

(1) You admit the officer initiated (caused) contact. Good deal. For those who know Missouri law, that means case closed.

(2) You describe Carol pushing, kicking, putting force on door etc. Please give the name of the person who witnessed this and put it in the Probable Cause Statement.

(3) You ask about why Carol "fought against the door," etc. You seem to accept that as true. Please provide the name of the person who witnessed those events and provided that information?

(4) Why do I need to ask a public defender anything? You've made no citation to law to ask about. Give me a citation to law, and I'll be glad to ask about it.

(5) Why haven't you contacted me for discussion? I made that good-faith offer, but it's been "crickets" from you. Why?

Anonymous said...

LS,

So glad to see this discussion continue. I was anxious to see what Mr. Clown Commenter would come up with next. And he certainly didn't disappoint; it's truly nutty stuff.

Here's how I interpret his argument:

Carol exists, and she gave the cop something to grab, so therefore she "caused contact" and the whole thing is her fault, criminally.

Yes, that sounds nuts, but I'm not altogether joking. That, in a nutshell, is what this loon is saying.

legalschnauzer said...

@3:21 --

Thanks for great insights. You nailed it and put the loon's words into common language we all can understand.

BTW, it's interesting Mr. CC claims officers had information to believe I was dangerous, but we've already shown that information came 3rd or 4th hand from family members with whom I had never discussed such matters. We've also know that LEOs chose to do nothing in regards to this report, so their own actions show they did not consider me dangerous.

Mr. CC is close to the case, I suspect, and has an agenda. It is amusing to see what he will come up with next.