Saturday, July 28, 2012

Savannah Dietrich attorney wants Jefferson County attorney's office off case

This from The Courier-Journal:
An attorney for 17-year-old Savannah Dietrich has asked a judge to remove the Jefferson County attorney’s office from her case involving two high school teens who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting her.

Attorney Thomas Clay, who has been hired to represent Dietrich in the juvenile court proceedings, confirmed that he filed the motion Friday to be heard on Monday, but said because of confidentiality rules, he was not allowed to get into specifics of why he is making the request.
Dietrich and her family have criticized the county attorney’s office’s handling of the case, saying the prosecution offered the two defendants a lenient plea bargain on charges of first-degree sexual abuse, a felony, and misdemeanor voyeurism, and that they were unaware of the deal and recommended sentence until just before it was announced in court.

Ordered by District Judge Dee McDonald not to discuss the case, Dietrich angrily tweeted the names of her attackers and criticized the justice system, leading attorneys for the boys to file a motion to hold her in contempt. That motion was dropped Monday after The Courier-Journal ran a story on Dietrich’s case last week and it was picked up around the globe.

Bill Patteson, a spokesman for the county attorney’s office, said he could not discuss the case because juvenile court proceedings are confidential.

The Courier-Journal has also filed motions for Monday, asking McDonald to vacate any order prohibiting Dietrich from discussing what happened in the case and to open files of both the sexual assault and the motion to hold the teen in contempt.

However, the county attorney’s office has asked for a delay in Monday’s hearing, according to a letter sent by Courier-Journal attorney Jon Fleischaker to McDonald on Friday.

In the letter, Fleischaker argued that the gag order was infringing on both the newspaper’s and Dietrich’s First Amendment rights and “the damage continues to accrue each day the order is in effect and, as such, this order ought to be vacated immediately.”

The newspaper’s motion argued there were “serious questions” about the way the case has been handled, including the “legitimacy of the agreement reportedly reached between the County Attorney's office and the defendants” and how Dietrich has been treated by the prosecution.

Emily Farrar-Crockett, deputy division chief of the public defender’s juvenile division and one of Dietrich’s attorneys in the contempt case, said her office has also made a motion to set aside the gag order. And she said they would object to postponing the hearing Monday.

“We filed it for that day,” she said. “We plan to argue it that day.”


Anonymous said...

I am no lawyer but I was not under the impression that plea bargins had to get the stamp of approval from victims. If so, I seriously doubt that we would have hardly any plea bargins ever. Welcome to the real world folks - most cases are pled out for lower punishments in order not to overwhelm the system. Sorry if the family and girl don't feel like they got enough pounds of flesh out of the boys to their liking but the system isn't set to ensure heavy handed revenge for the victim.

Just check the docket and see what initially gets charged and what pleads out.

I would propose that this young lady and her family are actually benefactors of the very process they wish to criticize by not themselves having been charged with what was obviously a clear case of contempt. I can't help thinking that there is probably some dualing civil cases on the horizon between these two litigants.

Carrie said...

The judge and the defense lawyers soon realized that they ran a real risk of assassination by non-state actors if they tried to punish Savannah.

Anonymous said...

Regardless, it sets a bad precedent that electronic vigilante justice gets a blind eye from authorities out of fear that it will be unpopoular or bring bad press from outside. Kind of reminds me of the response that occurred up in Happy Valley, PA.

The law applies to everyone, you don't get a pass just because you are a victim who feels a need inflict greater harm on transgressors outside the confines of the system.