|Jerry Harmison Jr.|
To examine that question, let's look at Judge Jerry Hamison Jr.'s judgment in Carol's case. (The judgment is embedded at the end of this post.) We invite you to check out Harmison's first paragraph. Does it say one word about what Carol is charged with? Nope.
Harmison spends the better part of six pages regurgitating the testimony of various witnesses (including Carol and me) and begins his analysis in the final paragraph on page 7. Best we can tell, this includes his primary reasons for reaching a guilty verdict:
The relevant evidence in this case is that the Greene County Deputies evicting Roger and Carol Shuler were acting in good faith. . . . [Note: 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. Harmison cites civil law, which has nothing to do with this criminal case.] Captain Lynn keyed the door and started to push it open, announcing the identity of officers again. Carol Shuler resisted the door, but it was pushed open. Lieutenant [Christian] Conrad announced the identity of the deputies again. Regardless, Carol Shuler continued to push Lynn multiple times and tried to pull away from him to resist detention. Lynn eventually handcuffed Carol Shuler. Consequently, the court finds the defendant guilty of Count I beyond a reasonable doubt. Sentencing is scheduled for June 11, 2018 at 10:30 a.m. [Note: Sentencing, and the hearing of post-judgment motions has been continued to 10:30 a.m. on June 19.]
So, Harmison pronounces Carol guilty, but of what? He doesn't say. He makes no mention of the governing statute -- RSMo 565.083 (Assault of a law enforcement officer . . . in the third degree.) He doesn't even describe the offense with which Carol was charged. So, we will do it for him:
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.
Harmison also does not bother to address Missouri case law, which has held that the key question is: Who initiated contact? (See State v. Armstrong, 968 SW 2d 154, Mo. Court of Appeals, 1998.) Jeremy Lynn stated twice -- in his written incident report and under oath on the courtroom stand -- that he caused and initiated contact with Carol, by grabbing her as he burst through the front door of our rented duplex apartment.
From reading the final paragraph of Harmison's judgment, you would think the central element of the offense was: Did the subject push the officer? But neither the statute nor the case law says a word about pushing someone. It's all about who "knowingly caused -- or initiated -- physical contact."
Well, Jeremy Lynn admits that he knowingly grabbed Carol, and in his written report, never said a word about her pushing him. In fact, he said she tried to pull away from him. Last time I checked, it is impossible to push someone and try to pull away from them at the same time.
So, we are left with this question: Is it a crime to push a police officer -- which Carol testified she did not do -- especially in this situation?
We will examine that in an upcoming post.
(To be continued)