Thursday, May 31, 2018

Missouri judge Jerry Harmison, an Eric Greitens appointee, finds Carol guilty of an offense even the "victim" stated under oath that she did not commit

Jerry Harmison Jr.
Missouri Judge Jerry Harmison Jr., an appointee of scandal-plagued Gov. Eric Greitens, has found my wife, Carol, guilty of "assault on a law enforcement officer," in a ruling that defies fact, law, logic, and common sense. In the almost 11 years I've been writing this blog, Harmison's "judgment" might stand as the most blatant example of judicial corruption I've ever seen -- and as regular readers know, that's a mouthful.

Sentencing for the "crime" Carol did not commit -- and Harmison's findings show she didn't commit it -- is set for June 11. (Judgment is embedded at the end of this post.) The prosecution removed jail time from the table months ago for the misdemeanor offense, and that seems like a good thing. But that move took away Carol's right to a jury trial and forced her to a bench proceeding before a judge, who proved to be every bit as sleazy as the governor who appointed him.

Harmison, apparently looking to burnish his right-wing, pro-police street cred, was willing to turn a blind eye to a prosecution case that was filled with enough lies to make Donald Trump blush. All four prosecution witnesses lied under oath -- and Carol can prove some of the lies; she probably can prove all of them, with an opportunity to conduct the discovery she was denied prior to trial.

Get this: Harmison apparently based his "judgment" on the following statement: "This court finds the testimony of the state's witnesses more credible and persuasive than the defense witnesses (Carol and me). Is this guy serious? Is a witness "more credible" because he's wearing a uniform and has a gun strapped to his waist -- no matter the garbage he spews forth in court?

Speaking of credibility, every prosecution witness testified that Carol flailed about in the back seat of a patrol car, suggesting she broke her own arm -- and they had nothing to do with it. Never mind that Carol testified she was handcuffed and seat-belted while in the car. Never mind that I testified that an unknown deputy -- who was not present at the trial -- slammed Carol butt-first to the ground, grabbed both arms above the elbow while she was seated, and yanked on them in an upward and backward direction, breaking her left arm before she ever was placed in the patrol car.

But Jerry Harmison is dumb enough to believe a person can inflict a comminuted fracture in her own arm? This man isn't qualified to be a judge in a pissing contest. Does Harmison cite anything that caused him to conclude Carol and I were less credible than the cop witnesses? Nope, not one thing.

Here are a couple of nuggets of good news:

* Under Missouri law, Carol can file a number of post-trial motions -- seeking to have the judgment vacated or set aside for various reasons. She also can seek a judgment of acquittal or a new trial. She also can seek criminal charges for perjury and "deprivation of rights under color of law."

* Under Missouri law, a judgment based on "fraud and collusion" cannot stand and will not preclude Carol's federal, civil-rights claims. [See Kapp v. Naturelle, Inc., 611 F. 2d 703 (Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, 1979).]

What is wrong with Harmison's judgment? I don't have room to go into everything in one post. We will provide more analysis in upcoming posts, but here are several key points for now.

(1) Statute? What criminal statute?

You might expect a judge to make note of the statute that governs a criminal case he is deciding. But we did not get that with Jerry Harmison. His "judgment" makes no mention of RSMo 565.083 -- which was repealed, by the way, effective Jan. 1, 2017 -- the statute governing Carol's alleged offense. Here is the key language from the statute, saying a person commits the offense if:

Such person knowingly causes or attempts to cause physical contact with a law enforcement officer . . . without the consent of the law enforcement officer.

When that language is applied to the facts, as stated in Harmison's own "judgment," Carol is not close to being guilty. But Harmison makes no mention of the applicable law; it appears he did not even read it. If a judge is going to convict someone of a crime, doesn't he have an obligation to use the law under which she was charged? I kind of think he does? What do you think?

(2) Well, what law did Harmison use to convict Carol?

On page 7 of Harmison's "judgment," we find this rationale: "The relevant evidence in this case is that the Greene County Deputies evicting Roger and Carol Shuler were acting in good faith."

Harmison is citing the so-called "good-faith exception," which defense lawyers routinely use in lawsuits alleging excessive force and Fourth Amendment violations against cops. In other words, Harmison decided a criminal case . . . with civil law. Carol's case is governed by the criminal statute mentioned in item No. 1 above. The charge is against her, and the statute is about her alleged actions; it has nothing to do with whether cops acted in "good faith" -- and there was overwhelming evidence at trial that they did not act in good faith, anyway.

(3) What about that key word, knowingly?

Under the statute, Carol had to act "knowingly" to be convicted, meaning "she was aware of the nature of her conduct or that those circumstances exist." Did the prosecution prove this? Nope. But it didn't matter because Harmison didn't apply the law and make them prove it. From page 5 of Harmison's "judgment":

The defendant, Carol Shuler, testified on her own behalf. She stated the judgment for possession was an interlocutory judgment in the landlord tenant case and did not authorize the Sheriff's Department to evict her and her husband. She stated that on September 9, she was napping and got up for some water. She heard loud noises outside the front door and looked through the peep hole, but it was covered. She saw the door knob moving, and she got scared and grabbed her cell phone. She said the door flew open, and she went flying against the wall. She felt hands grabbing her, and her head was pounded against the wall several times. She was placed in handcuffs, and then she saw it was the police.

Here are four points we can take from this:

(a) Carol was correct that the rent-and-possession judgment was interlocutory (non-final). Officer Scott Harrison admitted this under oath, on page 1 of the Harmison document. Under Missouri law, there cannot be execution on a judgment that is not final. (See State ex rel Turner v. Sloan [MO, 1980]) Neither Harrison nor Harmison could be bothered to look up the law. But Harrison inadvertently admitted that the cops had no grounds, under the law, to be on our rented property, much less to break into our home. Also, Carol believed (correctly) that the judgment was non-final, so there could be no eviction. She believed cops could not possibly be at her home, so she could not have "knowingly" assaulted one of them.

An X-ray of the arm a Missouri judge
apparently thinks Carol broke on her own.
(b) First, Carol did not testify that she heard "loud noises"; she said she heard noises, and that allergy problems caused her hearing to be off that day. Further, her testimony was that she looked out the peephole, and it was covered, so she could not see who was outside. Is this "good faith" in HarmisonWorld? For goodness sakes, the cops intentionally covered the peephole, so Carol could not see who they were, and that is good faith?

(c) Carol testified that she felt hands grabbing her, and she never said she "caused contact" with a cop; he caused contact with her, and the key prosecution witness admitted this. No kidding.

(d) Carol did not know she was dealing with cops until after her head had been pounded against the wall, and she was placed in handcuffs.

Did Carol "knowingly cause contact" with a cop? Hell, she did not even know they were cops, and they covered the peephole to ensure she would not know they were cops. The prosecution did not come close to proving Carol acted knowingly -- even if she did cause contact with a cop, and she did not.

(4) How can you be so sure Carol did not cause contact with a cop?

Because the "victim," Officer Jeremy Lynn, admits it -- as we've been reporting here for months. From page 3 of the Harmison document:

When [the door] was three-fourths open, resistance was experienced. Lynn used his left foot to block the door and forcefully opened the door. Lynn saw a male in the living room, approximately 15 feet away. The male was sitting in a chair with his hands palm down and his feet on the floor, apparently demonstrating he was not a threat. Lynn grabbed the person behind the door and pulled her out to apprehend her. Carol Shuler kept pushing Lynn and trying to pull away from him to resist custody.

Who caused contact here? Lynn admits he did, by grabbing Carol from behind the door. The statement goes on say to Carol "kept pushing Lynn," but that is different from Lynn's written incident report, where Lynn never says Carol pushed him or even touched him. And that goes to possible perjury -- or the filing of a false police report. Does Lynn say what Carol had done to merit being "apprehended"? Nope. Don't you have to do something wrong to have a cop grab and attempt to apprehend you? Not in Missouri, I guess.

Once again, the cop-witness and the judge seem to be clueless about the law. Missouri appellate courts have determined the key question in such cases is "Who initiated physical contact?" (See State v. Armstrong, 968 SW 2d 154 [Mo. Court of Appeals, 1998]) So, who initiated physical contact? Jeremy Lynn admits he did -- in order to apprehend someone who had done nothing unlawful.

Just how incompetent is this Missouri court? At (1631-CR07731--ST V CAROL T SHULER) -- under charges, judgments, and sentences -- it has Carol being found guilty of trespass, first degree. The court bounced that charge almost one year ago. Again, I don't have the imagination to make this stuff up.

We'll stop for now with the above four primary points, but there is much more to examine in this horror show of a "judicial process."

(To be continued)

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