Little pink hearts

Posted by Ken Campbell July 22, 2011 0 Comment 1065 views

I went to the hearing in Port Angeles yesterday. There were times I had trouble following exactly what was going on. (I must have missed that day at law school.) Fortunately, there are other people, smarter than I, who were there as well. And they took notes. Here’s the synopsis I got in my in box yesterday afternoon.

There were 24 people supporting Ellen today, all wearing Pink Hearts and sitting behind the Prosecutors. I took a lot of notes and will try and condense. The statements in quotes are actual statements made in Court. I tried to get as much as possible, but you can get the gist of the process. I’ll start with the nutshell, then the procedings.
Three major things were decided:
1) Change of Venue- DENIED
2) Severing Witness Tampering- UNDER ADVISEMENT
3) Postpone trial date- (Continue to write in pencil on your Calendars) TRIAL START MOVED TO DEC. 5th
Judge Ken Williams
Prosecuting Attorneys present: John Troberg and Deb Kelly
Defense Attorneys for Steim: Ralph Anderson and Will Paine
1.)Change of Venue Motion:
Paine (Defense Att.) : CofV usually at jury selection, but Paine says jury pool is tainted. He has had “individuals contact him, ‘you know your client’s guilty'”, it’s “talked about in her treatment”, inflammatory blog still on internet, “clients from as far as Forks say ‘you know she’s guilty'”. All evidence that she will not receive an “impartial jury in Clallam County”. Defendant needs a “presumption of innocence” to not “violate her right to an impartial jury”. Therefore, motion to Change Venue.
Troberg (Prosecuting Att.) : There is another trial happening with lot’s of publicity, where the jury pool was selected from Clallam County. Can’t really rule on Cof V without seeing a jury panel in front of us to deem them unsuitable. If people are appproaching Paine “daily” (in response to making claims about Steim), then court needs an afadavit. “If we can have a jury in ‘Betts’ case we can have one here.” Motion to Deny or Reserve.
Paine rebuttal: Afadavit was submitted in the brief. “If there is a ‘tie’ it always goes to the defendant.” “Look at all the people in the courtroom” Cannot get a fair trial, waste of money to County to not rule to Cof V at present time.
Judge Williams: There has been “inflammatory” speech in this case. Questions degree to which the publicity circulated, “there are lots of intelligent people who do not read local papers.” No way to know if jury pool is unacceptable until we see it. Clallam County has about “70,000 people for jury pool, I suspect we can find 14 people…”
Judge Williams “I deny the motion for Change of Venue”
Followed it with the statements that people have interests in trials and they’re open to the public. This can be handled by what is allowed at trial and is less of a CofV. Defense can resubmit at jury time.
2.) Motion to Sever the Accounts of Vehicular Homicide and Witness Tampering
Anderson (Defense Att.): Claims recordings are just a “discussion with a friend in talking with a lawyer.” Anderson then spoke about another trial where the jury ignored the instructions about a witness tampering charge, and kept having to be “sent back.” Steim did not “talk to law inforcement”, that she was charged without probable cause in witness tampering, it is much “weaker” than vehicular Homicide, need it severed to devote all resources to the VH charge. A Fair trial =sever.
Troberg (Prosecuting Att.): “Weak? I candidly do not agree.” Defense should have filed something because there was supplemental probable cause: an officer transcribed the recording made from jail. Three different times, she called from jail, “You might want to tell Nicole…I hurt…then I drank…” “You should call Karen… we drank after it happened…” “Tell Nicole, I drank because I was in pain…” All three “shows consciousness of fact that she knew she was under the influence.” Significance is that “she knows that she is in trouble and needs to throw off the tox results.” There is evidence through the police report: no alcoholic containers in cab, or along road. She is “attempting to influence the only other witness: Nicole.” She is trying to “manufacture testimony”. Recording shows a “consciousness of guilt”. The evidence will be in whether counts are severed or not: it is cross-admissable.
Judge Williams: “It’s Witness Tampering only if in fact she did not drink…” A discussion that I missed entirely (didn’t understand). But the Judge was questioning if it was actually witness tampering. I honestly couldn’t follow the verbal exchange and hope it will be clarified at the later review hearing.
Anderson (Defense Att): The motion for lack of probable cause is coming. Will also motion whether “jail has the right to randomly tape” conversations coming. “Why endanger a serious case with something ‘marginal’?”
Troberg (Prosecuting Att): I “cannot rebut something that hasn’t been written yet.”
Judge Williams: The Court needs more information, needs the new motions filed, look into Privacy Act as it pertains to jail recordings. “Motion to Take it under advisement”
3)Postpone trial date
Anderson (Defense Att): Steim has retained him as a private attorney, but will present court with request for $. Need $ to get an investigator for the Blood Alcohol Content/DNA testing. This case has a “notorious” profile and needs to be pushed out at least 9 months to a year. He, himself, has medical issues that need to be addressed and may have to “step down if he feels he is not able to perform to ‘my’ standards.” He has a big trial in October.
Troberg( Prosecuting Attn): This should not be allowed to drag on. State does not object to a continuance to November/December. The motion for experts at the public expense needs to be done immediately.
Judge, and Attorneys agree to new start of Trial on Dec. 5th, but with clarification that it could start as late as Dec. 30/early January
Steim signs papers to waive her right to a speedy trial.
Status Hearing on July 28th CANCELLED. New review hearing AUG. 4th @1pm
From Joyce Stuart – who should be thanked profusely for all her work in this situation.

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