Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A New Attitude Prevails at Tippecanoe County Courthouse: Prosecutor Drops Charges Against Man Charged With Battery on LPD Police Officer; Gardner Receives Special Public Defender

What a difference a judge makes.  Courtesy and politeness are back in style in Tippecanoe County Superior Court 5 after voters threw controversial and former Judge Les Meade out out of office.  The type of professionalism citizens expect in a courtroom had been absent in Superior court 5 since the departure of retired judge, David Krause, more than a decade ago.

Newly-elected judge, Sean Persin, has made an impressive debut in his new role according to sources in the courthouse, including defendants who have appeared before him recently.

Not only does Persin treat those who come before him with respect, he's proven he is not a rubber stamp for police officers who seek search warrants.  He recently denied one such request for a search warrant since it was too vague to square up with Constitutional requirements.  Constitutionalists find this attitude to be commendable.

Readers of the Lafayette Citizen Journal have been closely following two stories that were previously reported via this blog.  Here are a couple of interesting updates involving the cases of Mark Bowers and Erin Gardner, both defendants in Meade's former court room.

Prosecutor Drops Charges of Police Battery Against Mark Bowers


The charges against Mark Bowers have been dropped.  In a surprise move, the prosecutor filed a Nolle Prosequi dismissal motion on January 5, 2015. 

Bowers had been charged with battery on  Lafayette Police Department officers last year; however, he claimed he was the one who was tasered and battered by them without just cause.

Taser wounds inflicted upon Mark Bowers
Mark's mother had called the police to complain about a service provider who was sent by a local agency to assist with house work; however, shortly after the LPD officers arrived they allegedly began harassing Mark after he said that he did not wish to speak with them.  He was subsequently tasered, arrested, and charged with battery on an officer.

The elderly woman was confused about the service provider's role.  She also had a previous history of calling the police on nursing staff when she did not get her way.  She was distressed by the episode and the invalid woman was left without a caretaker after Mark was arrested.  Unfortunately, Mrs. Bowers recently passed away after a lengthy battle with lung cancer.

You can read the details of Mark's case at this link.

Erin Gardner Gets Special Public Defender


Erin Gardner recently appeared in Judge Persin's court and was greeted with courtesy and politeness that was lacking when Meade was in charge.

"I was impressed with the new judge," commented Gardner.  "I was treated like a human being and felt like I was treated fairly."

Knowing his time on the bench was coming to an end, former Judge Meade did his best to schedule Gardner's trial at the end of the year; however, attorneys in the case balked at the unusual attempt to squeeze a jury trial onto a crowded calender when none of the lawyers were prepared for it.  

Erin is also pleased to have a new deputy prosecutor appointed to her case.  She says she welcomes the professionalism as opposed to what she believes was "malicious prosecution" by Deputy Prosecutor Jackie Starbuck, who was withdrawn from the case shortly after this story was published.

Erin's former public defender was given the green light by Persin to withdraw due to a reported conflict-of-interest.  Judge Persin appointed a Special Public Defender for Gardner to pursue a jury trial in a bizarre case that started out as an alleged seat belt violation.

Gardner was injured after LPD Officer Jeffrey Webb violently yanked her from the back seat of the vehicle where she had been a passenger as the dashcam video shows.  Additional charges began to mount up for Gardner each time she refused a plea deal from Starbuck. Gardner also says she has passed two drug tests that were illegally forced upon her.  You can read the details at this link.

 Last summer, Gardner was involved in a domestic dispute involving a child custody issue.  Gardner says she has recorded and other physical evidence that she was the victim of a battery; however, LPD officers charged her with assault even though it is unclear whether the alleged victim wanted charges filed.  Gardner says she will take that case before a jury as well.
One of the injuries Gardner says she sustained as a victim of domestic battery.

She believes her unwillingness to agree to a plea bargain in the earlier case played a role in charges being brought against her in the domestic incident.

"I was never interviewed about the incident even though I reported it and my injuries to the police," said Gardner.

"It seems like a political witch hunt, because I did nothing more than defend myself against someone who had previously battered me."

Prosecutors should be commended for dropping the charges against Mark Bowers.  It also seems to many freedom-loving Constitutionalists that charges against Erin Gardner should also be dropped.  It's time to derail the crazy train in the name of fairness and justice.