John Stuart had a hearing today for his false paperwork filing felony charge.
Recap: John Stuart was returning home from hanging Ron Paul signs with his fiancée one night when he was attacked by a road raging drunk driver at an intersection. He certainly did things that exacerbated a bad situation. He ultimately was charged with murder after a gun went off in his car and the dead guy was left lying in front of his own vehicle. John fearing for further action from the dead guy's wife or his friends fled to his house which was a mile and a half away. Where his fiancée left in her car to go to her fathers and to call police on the way. Mr. Stuart was pulled over and arrested on his way to his lawyers, eight minutes after leaving the scene of the shooting.
In Arizona you have a Constitutional Right to bail, and not excessive bail. His fiancée paid his bail of $46,000. As I have found out, the state really, really hates it if you can afford to pay your bail rather than going through a bail bondsman who will constantly track you without it costing the government a dime.
So bolstered by protests from friends of the deceased the Maricopa County Attorney's office arranged for a new bail hearing. Not that Mr. Stuart was not cooperating with his bail conditions, which included the unusual requirement he wear a tracking device (--he was not considered a flight risk). He was fully cooperating, but the County Attorney wanted a half million dollar bail to break Mr. Stuart's ability to pay for good legal representation and to keep Mr. Stuart in jail. A balless judge compromised at a bit under a quarter million for new bail.
Now keep in mind, nothing had changed. Mr. Stuart was no more a flight risk at the initial bail hearing than he was at the new one. He had cooperated along the way. He was a home owner. A businessman whose business required that he be contactable and responsive at all times. His self defense case looked good. He had hired one of the best attorneys available. But a balless judge just couldn't tell the County Attorney “no” to a bail increase. Why? Because a quarter million dollars bail put Mr. Stuart in need of a bail bondsman who monitored his movements – risking a $230,000 loss if Stuart skipped. Mr. Stuart was now out 10% or $23,000.
This was not good enough for the Maricopa County Attorney's office Mr. Stuart or someone filed additional paperwork with the court. This paperwork was accepted, then later rejected because it did not come from Mr. Stuart's attorney (like that is an excuse for rejecting filed documents), [As a note, it turns out these documents may very well have “come” from Mr. Stuart's attorney -- who laid the paperwork upon the bailiff's counter top in Judge Steinle's courtroom, causing the judge to both accept and then reject the paperwork.] and this was then used by the Maricopa County Attorney to file felony charges against Mr. Stuart alleging false documents. Mr. Stuart was rearrested and held without bail under Arizona law allowing no bail in situations where a person charged with a felony is rearrested on a second felony.
So here you have it; two cases, one involving homicide the other filing false paperwork. A couple of weeks ago I showed up to a hearing on the criminal case in which the judge was asked to either dismiss all charges or remand the case back for consideration by the grand jury. Instead the judge withdrew from the case due to prejudice. Wow!
So now we have a hearing on the other case; false document filing.
Judge Julie P. Newall presiding.
Jeremy Geigle, defense attorney
John Stuart, defendant present
? ?, County Attorney representative
What went on? Two issues:
This case was designated by Judge
Steinle -- who later recused himself -- as a “complex case,” on April 25, before it was assigned
to Judge Mroz. And there is no minute entry explaining or crediting
this designation. I am not sure what the ramifications of this were,
but neither the defense nor the prosecution apparently knows who
requested such a designation. In addition, neither sees why this
would be a “complex case.” The judge seems determined to either find an explanation for this designation or to remove it.
Do I know what this means? I have not a clue.
The second aspect of the hearing was done off microphone and off record. June 5th, Judge Mroz will hold a evidentiary hearing in which the prosecutor must provide proof that a crime has taken place. There are some strong indications the prosecution will be unable to do this. That this will turn out to not be a crime, that what transpired cannot be declared a false filing. [Additionally, according to minute entries, the prosecutor is coincidentally supposed to answer the defendants numerous motions by June 6th. ]