Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Spokesman Review Speaks

I hope the Spokesman sends a reporter to the meeting mentioned below. I will be looking for a report and questioning why there isn't one if such is the case.

SR Edit: Assault Victim Denied Justice
Full Saturday editorial here

Incomprehensibly, 1st District Magistrate Debra Heise, of Sandpoint, brokered a plea bargain in which Davis pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery rather than aggravated battery, a felony that carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison. Heise threatened to dismiss the charges, allegedly telling Boundary County Prosecutor Jack Douglas that "boys will be boys." She sentenced Davis to 20 days on a work detail and ordered him to pay his victim's medical bills.
The sentence was woefully inadequate, regardless of whether Davis' actions and comments meet the criteria for a hate crime. A teenage girl suffered first- and second-degree burns on her legs, arm and buttocks and faces extensive reconstructive surgery as a result of the thuggish assault. Heise's dismissive attitude toward this heinous crime raises serious questions about her judgment. So does her decision that a hate crime didn't occur because the victim wasn't Jewish. The favorable treatment given the witness by local law officers and a possible conflict of interest involving the defense attorney raise more questions. One thing is certain – Ilaura Fleck was denied justice -- DFO/Spokesman-Review.

DFO: As I mentioned Friday night, human-rights leaders from throughout North Idaho will be meeting today to discuss this case and what should be done about this unreasonable sentence. Also, WorldNetDaily, a conservative online news service with a huge following, published a copy of the Bonner County Bee story about the crime and Magistrate Debra Heise's ruling. This one's far from over.


stebbijo said...

Awesome. I figured this was the latest development as well. I will be looking forward to the specifics. I don't think a judge can be recalled - they have to be voted out or diciplined by the judicial council. Those folks probably know.

Bill McCrory said...

I'm eagerly awaiting the reports about the Saturday meeting. The news reports have been somewhat inconsistent about who said what and when and where.

The most puzzling thing to me is more technical than anything. The hearing in question was a preliminary hearing. A prelim is primarily intended to determine if probable cause exists to bind the accused over for trial in district court. If the prosecutor fails to establish probable cause in the prelim, then the judge rightly dismisses the charge. If the prosecutor establishes probable cause, the accused is bound over for trial in front of a judge and jury where all the admissible facts, both aggravating and mitigating, are heard. Probable cause is the circumstances that would lead a reasonably prudent person to believe the accused had committed a crime. Probable cause is a lower standard than required for conviction at trial.

Magistrate Judge Heise's actions seemed to me to be inconsistent with a prelim. By pushing a negotiated plea (if she did), she was acknowleding probable cause existed to go to trial. If she didn't believe probable cause existed to go to trial, she was obligated to dismiss.

If I were the victim's father, I would ask the Idaho Judicial Council to examine Judge Heise's conduct against the Idaho Code of Judicial Conduct. He probably won't prevail, but that's about all he's got.

Bill McCrory said...

I forgot to include the link to Idaho Court Rule 5.1 that defines the procedures of a preliminary hearing.

Nic said...

Thank you for the updates on this mess. (somehow, I find your writing more enjoyable than the newspapers)