Monday, April 15, 2019

Missouri judge Jerry Harmison issued bogus guilty verdict against Carol, even though he was required to recuse because his son-in-law helped bring the charges

Ryan Olson, Judge Jerry Harmison's son-in-law, was part of the
prosecutorial team that brought baseless charges against my wife, Carol
after Missouri deputies had broken her arm.

(Second of two parts -- see Part 1 here)

The Missouri judge who found my wife, Carol, guilty of "assault of a law enforcement officer" heard the case even though his son-in-law was part of the prosecutorial team that brought the charges. That means Judge Jerry Harmison had a disqualifying family interest in the case, and his ruling is due to be vacated, per U.S. Supreme Court precedent.

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.

As for Carol's case, she filed a post-trial "Motion to Vacate Judgment . . . Due to Judge's Undisclosed Conflict of Interests," but Harmison apparently did not bother to read the motion, and he certainly did not act on it. (Motion to Vacate is embedded at the end of this post.) Canon 2-2.4 of the Missouri Supreme Court Rules (Code of Judicial Conduct) states:

A judge shall not permit family, social, political, religious, or other relationships to influence the judge’s judicial conduct or judgment.

The Code of Judicial Conduct further holds (at Rule 2-2.11):

A judge shall recuse himself or herself in any proceeding in which the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned . . .

Harmison clearly has violated at least two rules of the judicial code, and courts have referred to the Missouri Code of Judicial Conduct in deciding judicial disqualification issues. In Carol's case, the matter boils down to this simple fact: Eric Ryan Olson, Harmison's son-in-law, was part of the prosecution team that brought baseless charges against Carol, and public records indicate he helped plan the prosecution for at least three months.

Jerry Harmison
Why did Harmison fail to disclose this conflict? He likely was trying to protect his son-in-law from the possible repercussions of bringing a case that lacked probable cause and contained enough reasonable doubt to sink the RMS Lusitania. From Carol's Motion to Vacate:
Harmison’s son-in-law, Eric Ryan Olson, is a member of the Missouri State Bar and has worked for the Springfield firm of Ellis Ellis Hammons and Johnson since December 2016. Olson is married to Harmison’s daughter, Jessica. Before taking a position with the Ellis firm, Olson worked for three-plus years at the Greene County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, where he was hired by PA Dan Patterson and became senior assistant prosecuting attorney before leaving for a position with the Ellis firm.

Olson is not just a son-in-law to Harmison. He has done the judge a huge favor, so Harmison probably feels he owes him, big time. From the Motion to Vacate:

Why did Olson change jobs? The record indicates it was to help his father-in-law become a judge. Eric Greitens was elected governor of Missouri in November 2016, and Jerry Harmison Jr. apparently knew that gave him the inside track to a judicial appointment in Greene County. But there was a slight problem. With his son-in-law (Ryan Olson) working in the prosecutor’s office, that presented such an obvious conflict that Harmison would not be able to hear any criminal cases. In essence, Harmison would not be able to do the job as a judge with his son-in-law working for PA Dan Patterson.

The solution apparently was to arrange for Olson to take a job with the Ellis firm, opening the way for Harmison to take an appointment from Greitens. Since that appointment, Greitens has resigned in disgrace due to a series of scandals, including an extramarital affair with his one-time hair stylist. Greitens’ administration also was riddled with accusations of fund-raising irregularities, which could involve Jerry Harmison, given that he clearly knew the Greitens election gave him a strong shot at a judicial appointment.

In short, Jerry Harmison is a judge because Ryan Olson, his son-in-law, was willing to change jobs. But that did not clear all the conflicts in Jerry Harmison's path. What about cases -- like Carol's -- that date to Ryan Olson's time as a prosecutor? Missouri law requires Harmison to recuse himself in such matters, but he failed to follow the code that governs judicial conduct:

Ryan Olson’s transfer to the Ellis firm seemed to clear up any conflicts for criminal cases that launched since December 2016, when Olson joined the Ellis firm. But what about cases the Greene County prosecutor launched before that date – like the Carol Shuler case?
Jessica Harmison-Olson
The docket in the Shuler case clearly shows the Greene County Prosecutor’s Office brought charges in September 2016. That’s while Ryan Olson was still working at the PA’s Office, as Dan Patterson’s chief assistant. That means Ryan Olson likely was involved in the decision to bring charges against Carol Shuler – even though there clearly was no probable cause to bring the case, and a mountain of reasonable doubt precluded any possibility of a guilty verdict. In short, the public record suggests Ryan Olson was involved in the decision to trample Carol Shuler’s civil rights, which leaves him vulnerable to both civil and criminal liability (per 18 USC 242, deprivation of rights under color of law).

Why did Judge Harmison issue a guilty finding against Carol, contrary to facts and law in the case? The answer seems clear: He was trying to provide legitimacy for the charges that his son-in-law helped concoct out of thin air:

So, why did Judge Harmison find Ms. Shuler guilty, contrary to facts and the law? He was protecting his son-in-law (Ryan Olson), Olson’s former boss (Dan Patterson, who signed off on the misdemeanor information against Carol Shuler), and the buddies Mr. Olson left behind in the PA’s office to go with the Ellis firm. Mr. Olson did his father-in-law a favor to help Harmison become a judge, so Harmison is returning the favor by issuing a bogus guilty verdict that he hopes will protect those who wrongfully brought the case, including his family member, Mr. Olson. Does Harmison care that this leaves Carol Shuler, who always has lived well within the boundaries of the law, with a criminal record she does not deserve? Obviously, Harmison does not care; he cares only about himself, his career, and that of his son-in-law. In other words, Harmison is a typical self-centered Republican – who, like the man who appointed him, is corrupt to the core.

The guilty finding against Carol is due to be vacated under Liljeberg v. Health Services Acquisition Corp. (U.S., 1988). That issue has been put before Harmison once, and he chose to ignore it. If he continues to ignore it, we will go over his head to Missouri appellate courts -- especially since, as we've shown, there is no final judgment and no conviction against Carol.

Dorial Green-Beckham

We also will look into the possibility of pursuing criminal charges against Ryan Olson and his prosecutorial colleagues, under federal civil-rights law:

Harmison’s failure to disqualify in the instant case was every bit as inexcusable as that of the judge in Liljeberg. And no one could seriously argue that Harmison appears to be “disinterested,” given that his son-in-law almost certainly was involved in bringing the baseless case against Carol Shuler.

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