|Noah Shuler and Aubrynne Russell|
That presents this question: Why was Noah "not guilty" when he entered a plea back in January -- the speeding incident happened in May 2017, but was not listed as a court case until late October -- but he suddenly became guilty on April 6?
Public documents suggest the answer is that Noah's father, my lawyer-brother David Shuler, pulled a con game to help his son achieve a soft landing while he had three court cases pending at one time. That David Shuler would engage in a con certainly is no surprise, given the evidence we've uncovered in recent weeks that he has acted with repugnant deceit toward Carol and me. In short, evidence suggests David helped arrange our unlawful eviction, his actions regarding a 911 call (that I did not make) damned near got us killed, and he played a huge role in Carol's arm being broken. (Details in upcoming posts.)
How did David Shuler game a system that is broken beyond repair to begin with? It couldn't have been hard, when you are a lawyer with a kid who can't stay out of trouble, and many members of the legal tribe are known for protecting their own -- while screwing the general public at every opportunity.
Noah's case presents powerful proof that our pleading system in criminal cases is a dysfunctional, steaming pile of cow feces. During the course of a court case, individuals who "swear falsely" (under oath) can be subject to criminal charges in the form of perjury. But the same individuals can enter a false plea -- David Shuler likely knew his son was guilty in the speeding case -- and get away with it.
Curious timing was everywhere in the Noah matter -- and that's because he was facing multiple charges, in separate cases, at roughly the same time. Let's follow the docket trail:
* May 22, 2017 -- a state trooper clocks Noah driving up to 88 mph in a 60 zone on U.S. 65 near Springfield, MO.
* October 28, 2017 -- the case appears in public records as a court matter. Why the delay of more than five months? Our guess is that Noah was hoping the case would go away and did not tell his parents, and they likely got clued in when a piece of court mail arrived at the residence.
* December 19, 2017 -- Noah is set for arraignment, but David Shuler (acting as his son's lawyer) was granted a continuance.
* January 17, 2018 -- The arraignment is held, and David Shuler enters a plea of "not guilty."
Let's catch our breath and remember that date -- Jan. 17, 2018. That's when Noah, according to his lawyer/father, was not guilty.
But let's consider another key date -- Dec. 30, 2017. That's when a cop in Sparta, MO, pulled Noah and girlfriend Aubrynne Russell over (she was driving and charged with speeding), with Noah found in possession of drug paraphernalia.
David Shuler almost certainly knew about the drug charge when he entered the "not guilty" plea in the speeding case on Jan. 17, 2018. But that's just the first sign of gaming. The next came on March 7, 2018, when a hearing was set in the speeding case, and David again asked for a continuance -- this time, the hearing was reset for April 6, 2018, Friday before last.
Was there a legitimate reason for the continuance? The answer probably is no. David Shuler likely knew two things: (1) Noah was going to have to plead guilty in the speeding case; it's pretty hard to prove your innocence when a trooper has clocked you driving at 28 mph above the speed limit; (2) The drug-paraphernalia case still was hanging out there and could lead to a tougher sentence for Noah in the speeding matter.
I don't claim to be an expert on the criminal side of our "justice system," but my research indicates it's not a good idea to get a new charge -- particularly a drug-related matter -- while another charge is pending. Prosecutors, if there are any real ones in Missouri, can ask for tougher sentences in such circumstances. And Judge Jerry Harmison might have become inclined to issue more than a wrist slap in the speeding case.
Our guess is that David Shuler asked for the continuance on 3/7 because he knew the drug matter had not been resolved. We're still not sure it's been resolved -- a hearing was set for April 12 (last Thursday, in Sparta Municipal Court), but the record disappeared from case.net on or about March 8, one day after David asked for a continuance in the speeding case.
Did that keep prosecutors and Judge Harmison from even knowing about the drug case -- and help Noah get softball treatment that he likely did not deserve? The answer probably is yes.
David Shuler makes good money, but we've seen substantial evidence that suggests he's not much of a lawyer. Early in his career, David did quite a bit of criminal-defense work, but he wound up with a legal-malpractice case that paints a disparaging assessment of his legal skills.
Attending the University of Missouri School of Law might not make you much of an attorney, but it apparently provides you with enough knowledge of procedural matters that you can easily con a court and give your ne'er-do-well kid a soft landing.
(Note: While Noah Shuler's drug paraphernalia case has disappeared from case.net, the speeding charge against his girlfriend, Aubrynne Russell, remains in plain sight, for anyone to see -- 160572245, CITY OF SPARTA V AUBRYNNE LAINE RUSSELL. A hearing for her was set on April 12 (the same date as Noah's was set), but attorney Russell Dempsey (the same attorney Noah had) asked for a continuance, and a new hearing date has not been set. Why does Ms. Russell's speeding charge remain visible to the public, while Noah Shuler's drug-related charge has disappeared? Is she being treated differently from the son of a local lawyer? Is that "justice" in the Missouri Ozarks?)