Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Missouri Judge Jerry Harmison failed to disqualify in case where his son-in-law, Ryan Olson, was part of prosecution that brought bogus charges against Carol

Jerry Harmison
The Missouri judge who found my wife, Carol, guilty of "assault on a law enforcement officer" was disqualified from hearing the case because his son-in-law was part of the prosecution team that brought the charges. Perhaps Judge Jerry Harmison Jr. issued a verdict that had no basis in fact or law in an effort to protect the son-in-law, and his prosecutorial colleagues, for bringing charges without a whiff of probable cause.

Harmison's family ties to the Greene County Prosecuting Attorney's Office also likely explain his corrupt handling of a recent probation-revocation hearing involving former NFL player Dorial Green-Beckham.

In the 11-year history of Legal Schnauzer, I've observed a lot of corrupt judges. But this might be the most blatant judicial scandal I've witnessed. It revolves around a Springfield, MO lawyer named Eric Ryan Olson.

Harmison did not disclose his conflict of interest before conducting a bench trial in the matter. Carol filed six post-trial motions -- including a Motion to Vacate Judgment As Made By A Judge Who Was Disqualified Due to Undisclosed Conflicts of Interest -- which brought the matter to Harmison's attention, in clear and unmistakable language. (Motion is embedded at the end of this post, along with Harmison's judgment.) Carol's motion showed that the judgment against her was due to be vacated, per U.S. Supreme Court precedent in Liljeberg v. Health Services Acquisition Corp. (U.S., 1988). Harmison, however, did not vacate and gave little or no indication that he had even read the motion.

Harmison's conflict also involves dubious actions that apparently were orchestrated to allow former Gov. Eric Greitens to appoint him to a Greene County judicial seat. Greitens, of course, since has resigned in a wave of scandals.

Dorial Green-Beckham
Missouri has several statutes within its Rules of Criminal Procedure that govern judicial disqualification, and the ones that likely apply to Carol's case are Rule 32.09  and Rule 32.10. An article titled Judicial Disqualification in Missouri boils the matter down to a few simple issues. Under Rule 32.09, "prejudice" grounds are not in play; rather, "the only consideration is whether fundamental fairness requires disqualification." Rule 32.10 "sets forth specific grounds that are deemed to be sufficient to warrant judicial disqualification for cause; for example, where the challenged judge has a proscribed relationship, is interested in the cause, or was “of counsel.” Finally, state courts have looked to the Missouri Code of Judicial Conduct to decide disqualification motions, guided by this clear-cut notion: "In accordance with the Code, litigants who present their disputes to a Missouri court are entitled to a trial which is not only impartial, but which appears to be so."

That leaves us with the following questions:

(1) Did Carol receive "fundamental fairness," required by 32.09? Nope.

(2) Did Carol's judge have an improper "proscribed relationship," or "interest in the cause"? Without question. His son-in-law was part of the team that brought the charges.

(3) Was Carol's trial "impartial" and did it "appear to be so"? Not even close.

Where does attorney Eric Ryan Olson enter the picture? The Greene County Prosecutor's Office brought charges against Carol on Sept. 8, 2016. Olson worked in the office, serving as senior assistant to Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson. At the time, Olson was engaged to Jessica Harmison, Judge Jerry Harmison's oldest daughter.

Ryan Olson and Jessica Harmison were married on Nov. 11, 2016. (Jessica Harmison previously had been married to, and divorced from, a man named Taylor Straub.)

Carol was not arrested until Jan. 31. 2017. That means Ryan Olson was part of the prosecution team that brought charges against Carol and pursued her arrest. Throughout that time, he was engaged, or married to, Jessica Harmison -- who just happened to be Judge Jerry Harmison's daughter, making Ryan Olson the judge's son--in-law for part of the time that the case against Carol was launched.

How does the Olson/Harmison connection create a disqualifying conflict for Judge Harmison, and how does it tie to the machinations the family took to ensure that Jerry Harmison could be appointed as a judge? We will examine those questions in an upcoming post.

(To be continued)

No comments: