Tue Jun 19, 2012 4:37 am
Ron Swift Trial and Bailey Horse Update
June 18, 2012
The saga continues. Yesterday at 2:30 p.m. at the Park County Court House in Fairplay, Colorado a motion hearing involving defendants Mr. Ron Swift and Mr. Randall Hatlee was held (cases 2012 M 43 and M 44). Each of the Defendants is facing several counts of animal cruelty stemming from an inspection of the Echo Valley Ranch in Park County on which both men board and/or keep horses.
The hearing began precisely at 2:30 p.m. After calling the case, Judge Brian Green began by addressing Park County District Attorney, Thom LeDoux’s written motion to reconsider the Judge’s prior order to return the six horses in question to their owners. Judge Green stated that the DA’s written motion was the “least persuasive motion” he had yet encountered and asked Mr. LeDoux if had anything to add. Offering nothing further, the Judge angrily denied the motion and moved on the next order of business, the protective order regarding PCSO unannounced inspection of the horses at Echo Valley Ranch.
Responding to the Defendant’s motion requesting they be provided 24 hour notice prior to any inspection of the horses, Judge Green allowed the defense to comment. Mr. Campbell who represents both defendants stated the unannounced inspections were inconvenient to his clients and were unjustified. Mr. LeDoux weakly argued that PCSO was merely following the judge’s prior order and that Office Bobbie Priestly, who had been conducting the inspections was unavailable to testify on behalf of the People and as such a decision regarding the motion should be postponed. Judge Green disagreed and proceeded to clarify the order, stipulating the PCSO would provide the Defendant’s 24 hour advance notice of any inspection.
The Court then entertained the Defendant’s motion asking it sanction the prosecution for alleged discovery violation. Mr. Campbell asserted that images, a YouTube video and a “slide presentation” had been posted on the Internet which included evidence intended to be used by the prosecution and as a such, disadvantaged his clients. Mr. LeDoux interrupted him and stated that the papers filed by Mr. Campbell had no attachments referencing the evidence nor did Mr. Campbell reveal precisely what evidence was in question. Mr. Campbell handed Mr. LeDoux a “one hundred” page stack of materials to Mr. LeDoux indicating that was his evidence. Mr. LeDoux objected and requested that a decision regarding the motion be postponed. The Judge instead provided a 15 minutes recess so that the prosecution could review the documents.
Upon reconvening, the Judge acknowledged that additional charges had been filed against the Defendants and asked Mr. Campbell how they pled. To which he stated that both of his clients pled not guilty and would request a jury trial. Then moving to the issue prior to the recess, Mr. LeDoux admitted that “it appears that the Sheriff’s Office released some pictures, but that it is not clear which ones”. He also argued that it was unclear whether the images and other materials offered by Mr. Campbell were in fact evidence or if so, whether he intended to use it. Making his strongest point yet, he stated that it was Mr. Campbell’s burden to demonstrate that were the materials in fact evidence or authentic, Mr. Campbell would have to prove they were prejudicial and caused harm to the Defendants.
The Judge agreed. He postponed a decision regarding the matter and told the parties to regroup and better prepare their arguments. He set the issue for hearing on August 1, 2012 at 2:30 p.m.
Upon the Judge’s request Mr. LeDoux revealed that Timberline Equine Veterinary Services’ (Timberline Vets) records had been subpoenaed and were to be provided by Friday, May 18, 2012. Seizing the opportunity, Mr. LeDoux requested the Judge reconsider his decision to return the horses to Echo Valley Ranch. The Judge declined and instructed Mr. LeDoux to put his request in writing and submit it as a “Motion to Reconsider.” Mr. LeDoux indicated that he would do so immediately.
The Judge then acknowledged that he was aware that the community and “possible witnesses or interested parties” were potentially influencing public opinion and that he would entertain a gag-order in deference to the Defendant’s opportunity to a fair trail. Mr. LeDoux asked that such an order be in writing and offered to provide the Judge a template for his consideration. The Judge accepted the offer and after more discussion regarding dates and deadlines, the hearing concluded.
Sun Sep 23, 2012 4:30 pm
I understand there will be numerous people attending to show their support for the men, I hope many can attend to show their support for the horses and the officials that brought charges.
case # 12M43 - Oct.2. 2012 2P.M. - Status Conference (this is to assure the parties are ready for trial and is the last date the court accepts a plea) Dec. 3, 2012 is the jury trial. Begins at 8:30A.M. with jury selection and the trial begins once the jury has been selected.
case # 12M44 - all above dates and times are the same.