Ruling could be `pilot’ for nondisclosure cases |

Ruling could be `pilot’ for nondisclosure cases

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – The issues and facts are clear, but the law is clouded, Ninth District Judge T. Peter Craven said Tuesday.

That was Craven’s first reaction to evidence presented at the motion hearing for Shane Nicholson, who is seeking to withdraw his guilty plea for possession of methamphetamine.

Craven said he’ll attempt to clarify those legal issues in an official order, but he gave no timetable as to when that order will be issued. The order could serve as a “pilot” for other cases involving former Silt police officer Michael Williams.

Nicholson’s case is the first of up to 190 cases in which defendants’ guilty pleas could be withdrawn because the 9th District Attorney’s office didn’t inform defense attorneys that Williams was convicted for official misconduct in Summit County.

Public defender Greg Greer, who has filed motions to withdraw guilty pleas for Nicholson and eight other defendants, argues that withholding the Williams information led some defendants to unnecessarily plead guilty for their alleged crimes.

A hearing on Greer’s motion began Friday, and was completed on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, Greer presented evidence showing that the DA’s office failed to disclose to defense attorneys a 417-page folder containing damaging information about Williams.

Deputy DA Lawson Wills tried to show that the DA’s office, while slow in disclosing that evidence, broke no rules of disclosure.

Wills defended the DA’s office practice of not volunteering the information about Williams, saying it’s not required until 30 days before a defendant’s trial begins. The information was never voluntarily released, Wills said, because none of the cases involving Williams went to trial.

“I’m not, nor is anyone, happy about having to argue about minimum compliance,” Wills said. “But (the DA’s office) met that.”

Greer disagreed.

“This court, these procedures, what we do here every day is on a foundation of sand,” Greer said Tuesday during his closing comments.

“And this case is a wave pounding against that sand,” Greer said. “At a minimum, Mr. Nicholson has to be allowed to drop his plea and start at square one. That is the minimum to restore confidence, and we need that.”

During the hearing, District Attorney Mac Myers, deputy DA Trisha Lacey and deputy DA Jan Hindman-Shute were called to testify by the defense.

Ninth District Court employee Donna Mabon-Shrull, Silt patrol Sgt. Tony Pagni and New Castle police chief Chris Sadler were called by the prosecution to testify.

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