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HB2408 - The "innocent until proven guilty" 1997 law.
Look for 13-103, 13-205.
Did anyone read ARS
13-115. Presumption of
innocence and benefit of doubt; degrees of guilt? Was this in
conflict prior to SB1145 (2007)? YES!
Innocent-Unless-Proven-Guilty Restored in Arizona !!
Gun Law Update 2006 AZ
Arizona Castle Doctrine explained - In plain English
Closer look at AZ "Castle Doctrine" bill
Dateline's "Trail of Evidence"
"Trail of Evidence"
News: Harold Fish
State vs. FISH
Conversation with County Attorney Office and
Joe Richards/Sheriff Department
June 10, 2004
(<Click here to see
a version commented by the Webmaster>)
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MAN 1: Okay, this is everybody, huh? Well, I'll go ahead and start. Roberta, Mike and Jeff and I had lunch. I thought it was important that we had this time to talk about some of our issues. I think that Roberta and Mike were extremely articulate in defining what their concerns were about where we had gone, where we're going with this case. Mike was particularly concerned should this case move on past grand jury into trial and was very articulate in this concern. I have spoken, we've spoken with both Scott and with Dean about our conversations at lunch. I did tell them that there's a desire, you preference is to move Scott off the but, that you are, you understand that that's not your decision. That that would be your preference but you did say, you know, if we if we choose not to take him off, that we're gonna deal with that.
MAN 2: Absolutely. Definitely.
MAN 1: And our sense is, is we would prefer if possible to keep Scott on but we understand that you have some concerns, some serious concerns and we want to make sure that if we make that decision, that's a decision that's obviously that's going to impact you. And I think, in order for that decision to work, there needs to be a very clear and upfront understanding on everyone's part about what's expected of all, of all the parties involved in this thing. And we need to be really upfront and I would hope that you would speak to your concerns because I think what you said, you know, was extremely articulate and, you know, directly to the point as far as your concerns as also be the trial lawyer and this kind of thing. And I think Scott needs to hear that because obviously Scott very well may be the focus of a lot of (?) in trial --
MAN 2: Sure.
MAN 1: and your concern. And so that's, that's where we are. And we thought at lunch preferred I would mention would be good to get together, we fully concur and agree. Unless we're all comfortable when we leave this room, then we shouldn't go on with this. All of us need to have a certain amount of comfort level that, you know, you need to be assured that you can work with Scott and Scott's going to work as a team and Scott needs to be assured that he's gonna be supportive in that.
LESSLER: Well, um, before I reiterate briefly for you, Scott, and also for Dave cause Dave had to be in Page today, I should point out, too, that if that's the decision you guys go ahead and make, and that is to keep Scott as lead on the case, and I emphasize, of course, our understanding that it is your decision and not our office's decision. Certainly not my decision. That it is important, as important, that Scott or any lead person on the case work effectively with Roberta because the next month, and I know you intend, intended in that, because that's over the next month, arguably the grand jury proceeding in this case is as important, if not more important, than the trial itself. It's one of those unusual situations that occurs from time to time where that is so. But, that said, Scott, my view is, and I'm hoping to quote myself without embarrassment, from lunch as verbatim as I possibly can. In my judgment, it's this does not have to do, number one, with your ability. It does not have to do with your work in the case which, frankly, I am not in a position to judge because I haven't seen it. Okay? Good, bad or indifferent, I'm just not in a position to offer an opinion on that. Instead, it has to do with a set of circumstances that has put you and, as Bill suggested by some of his comments, perhaps even at the fault one or more of the newspapers, but has put us together as a team in the unfortunate position of having you as a symbol of law enforcement cause you are. Just as I'm a symbol of the government when I stand up in a courtroom and tell the judge, I'm ready to proceed.
SCOTT: I understand.
LESSLER: And what we have at bottom line is a situation where if the judge asks me, Mr.
Lessler, are you ready to proceed?Ē and youíre seated next to me, which you may be, and we stand up and say, ďYes, your honor, weíre ready to proceed,Ē we have a public symbol of a prosecutor who obviously believes in the genuineness of this case or else he has no business in the courtroom advocating on behalf of a conviction. And seated to his immediate left or right the lead detective, a symbol of law enforcement, assuming a leadership role for law enforcement, if you will, in public, in a courtroom thatís gonna be, I would anticipate, pretty well attended, saying, ĎYes, Iím ready, but I believe that this is a case of self-defense.Ē And it really doesnít matter, and this is the unfortunate part, it really doesnít matter what you believe. But - and the fact - but in terms of what will come across, what the impression will be through a prospective set of jurors, at least some of them are going to identify you with a position of self-defense. And you may well have been misquoted in the press and if that is so, that is especially unfortunate.
But we're all here dealing as I put it to Bill this afternoon, in the hard white right to light of reality here and that hard white light is you are going to be publicly identified with the position of self-defense and I as a the trial lawyer on behalf of the government is gonna be identified publicly with the position of murder. And we present a schizophrenic impression. We present a mixed signal unavoidably to that jury and that is my main concern. My work with you in Minnix (?) tells me that you're a darn good detective. We worked very well in Minnix and I hope we can continue to work very well in Minnix cause you've done a damn good job.
And I think it also happens in Minnix that we see strategically pretty much eye to eye. We've had some differences I'm aware at the change of plea but not too much, matter of degree. But you've done damn good work with Paul in that case. We've moved the case well. But I, this is a different situation. I don't believe for a moment that you said what you said out of any shred of malice. I think you said what you said because you have a sense of humanity. You've shown it to me in the Minnix case in the way you've dealt with witnesses and the way you understand where people are coming from, in cultures and subcultures in which they live and operate. And that's, of course, if they're critical in (?) of being protective. And I believe that the reason you may have said something that you did to the press, even though they may have cut something out that they shouldn't have, took comments about self defense out of context, in other words, the reason you may have offered that up in part is because as a humanist, as a person who identifies with a human being, you saw a guy who was very upset, understandably. Who, after all is not a lifelong criminal. Nobody has ever, would ever claim that. He's got seven kids. He's a retired teacher. You have this horrible tragedy here. And you felt some emotion which is perfectly understandable and which, frankly, I would probably feel if I were responding to the scene as a detective.
But just for a moment, and this is only my opinion, just for a moment, I think you let your emotion get to you. And instead of saying, Wait a minute, Scott, we don't have the autopsy report yet. We don't have the firearms analysis yet. We don't have the shells. We don't have the load, the grains and the bullets. We don't have the scene diagram. We don't have the videotape. We don't have any expert testimony. This could be complicated. This could be complicated. And I better reserve judgment. What happened is you felt for the guy and just for a moment, you let that feeling show.
That's nothing to be ashamed of and I don't think it's anything to criticize. But - and it's perfectly understandable and it's part of what makes you a good detective. But as a result of that, we have a situation and - for many reasons not your fault - where we have a potential impression in a courtroom created that would be severely deleterious in my judgment to a credible presentation of evidence and a credible presentation of argument to a jury. That, to me, is the issue. That to me is the problem. And so how do we approach this so that, number one, we can maintain the objectivity of government as a whole, meaning SO and CA as a team; and a sense of fair mindedness in terms of how we proceed to a grand jury and we may not get an indictment. We may not. They may conclude that it is self defense. And, if so, so be it.
But we have to preserve our objectivity in terms of how we proceed and just as important we have to maintain the impression of objectivity to the public. We have to project that. And my concern at this point is that we would not be able to do that because, unfortunately, of the symbolic value of - of what you and me standing together, if you will, as representatives of government would bring to the case.
The other concern is I don't want in any way, whatever happens cause the other thing I should be quick to add, is if you guys make the decision, just as I told Jeff and Bill at lunch, if you guys make the decision and it's your call that Scott, for whatever reasons, and it's certainly not my place to question those reasons, but for whatever reasons you think Scott should be on the case, then as far as I'm concerned, with all of what I have just said, is behind me. And we work together just as well and just as closely as we worked - as we worked together in the Minnix case. And I would - I need - I'm confident that we can do that if that's the case.
But that relates to my second concern is - and that is I think that our working relationship as good as it is in the Minnix case, I want to keep undisturbed. And I think that - and my personal opinion is the best way to do that is to have us, of course, continue to work together closely with Paul on the Minnix case, and take you out of the cauldron, so to speak, on the Fish case. And I think that - for those reasons, I have a strong preference that you leave, not because of any assessment whatsoever about you or your abilities. In fact, it's ironic to the contrary. Because of our good working relationship in Minnix and because I have the sense that you are at bottom line a humanist, and that's what drove you for just a second or two understandably to make a comment, that then may have been taken out of context.
So - not for any other reason and I think we have to approach things with an eye to what's not best for Mike Lessler or what's best for Scott Feagan but what is best in terms of the ultimate mission of our offices and that is together to objectively approach potential indictable cases and determine whether it should go forward to a grand jury and let the grand jury decide. And if they decide then to fairly but vigorously prosecute the case at trial, that's my point of view on it. That's basically what I told Bill and Jeff with Roberta at lunch.
MAN 1: Excellently put, just a little bit of substance to that Scott, and I know I've shared this with Roberta and with the Sheriff but in the event - we will - prior to starting trial, we'll move in
limine, you know, to try to preclude a lot of this stuff which we don't think should be admissible at trial. Your opinions or my opinions or my ex opinions of self-defense or innocence or whatever. That's - a lot of that stuff shouldn't come in but the problem is we don't know - we can't predict accurately what will come in and what won't come in. And the strong likelihood, my opinion is that some of it will come in through one side door or another.
And so we have to anticipate the fact that to some degree, at some point of trial the defense attorney will be using your testimony to support the defense. And then Mike's got the uncomfortable position of having to get up on cross examination, if you will, and begin cross examining you or and/or the integrity of the investigation at several points, blah blah blah. And then you sit back down at the table with Mike and it just gets to be a little bizarre if nothing else. I think beyond that it does present a pretty significant problem to the credibility and integrity of the case of the prosecution. And I think we have to assume that's gonna happen to some - to some extent.
LESSLER: Yeah, I agree, that - and it's another - it's a point we did touch on over lunch as well.
MAN 1: Not only is there a problem with the symbolism, if you will, which I think you explained very well, but on a very real level there's gonna be cross examination. We don't know.
SCOTT: I understand -- I understand that. Whether I'm on the case or not, I mean, that's gonna be a given - and I understand that when you - or when we start picking a jury, if I'm gonna be there, that there's gonna be an element of it. I understand that aspect of this being a high profile case as well. My statement was taken out of content. In fact, were you able to show the - what the statement I did make? And very clearly I may have used the term "appears."
MAN 1: Yeah, (?) the question.
SCOTT: And brought in the County Attorney's Office with Chris and, I mean --
MAN 1: No.
SCOTT: I'm just saying - I - I wasn't all over it.
MAN 1: I'm kidding, but I - this week has been - one of us. We completely understand - we empathize with the press (?).
SCOTT: When you talk about compassion, I spoke with the sister, the family, and I - I mean, I do have compassion for Grant. There wasn't any - what has happened here is it's tragic on both ends. That's a given. I will make it very clear. I think you've seen me for enough years to understand that one, I've had a very good working relationship with people. You and I have had - gone to town on some jobs, done very well. I - as I was telling my administrators that I don't know how to half way do something. And my investigation will be that to go out, done everything you've asked for and so forth. I've gathered - maybe I need to go back - well, maybe, I know I do - to go back and re-interview someone which is gonna happen in a lot of different case irregardless of this case.
MAN 1: Sure.
SCOTT: And I'm more than prepared to do that. That's what I do. That's what I do. And as - at no point did I ever bring something to the table to say, "well, down the road let's meet in trial and see what" - I didn't foresee a conflict as you have described. I mean, you very articulate - how you described me getting up there and then sit back down with you. I would have issues with that. As I see you have issues with that.
LESSLER: See, I don't, because I don't view any of this personally. It's the business. And I don't have any issues in having to cross examine you vigorously and having you sit down next to me. The fact that you might, and I appreciate your candor on that, create an additional issue. But I do think that even if you're able to work through that, and I have no doubt about your ability or your motivation as an effective investigator. None. But that can be remedied. You know, we have to plug holes here -- that, as you say, that always happens. We always have that in cases. No one gets all the right questions the first go round. It just doesn't happen.
LESSLER: Or you just don't do it in the courtroom. I can't tell you how many nights of sleep I've lost by thinking about what question I should have asked on a - on an examination of a witness or what argument I should have made. But again, that's not the issue because it is
reme- can be remedied. By you or by someone else. My concern goes back to the first point I was making earlier. Is that even though it's to a significant degree not your fault, we are all in a position now that we have to take a hard look at and see what is best for the integrity of the system, for the credibility of your office and my office and our offices together. And how we present publicly to maintain confidence in the criminal justice system.
There are gonna be more than a few people who are gonna ask "why is the County Attorney prosecuting this case? You've got the lead detective saying it's self defense." Now, hear me. That may or may not be your view. But that's the impression that people already have and sitting right next to him is this dude who thinks that his guy is not justified in the killing. At least at the trial stage. So what - how do - how do we square that? I mean, "Mr.
Lessler, how are we supposed to believe you? What are you talking about here?" And I don't know how to get around it.
SCOTT: I have a question that kinda goes on another direction. When Roberta and I sat down and went over this case in quite detail. I was told it wasn't gonna be charged and that it would - therefore, there's only two elements of charging before grand jury, don't charge (?) grand jury, prelim and I was told it wasn't gonna be charged. And then ultimately the next day, I'm signing a complaint. Why was that step taken?
ROBERTA: I never - you were advised that it was gonna be charged. The method of which we charge it was up for debate. Whether we went straight to grand jury or whether we filed a complaint. The plan - you and I sat down was to take it to grand jury. And then after you left, I spoke with Terry and Dave and we thought it was better to go ahead and get the complaint filed since we're taking it to grand - taking it to grand jury, so we could state our intentions publicly (?) rather than waiting and have to do all the secrecy stuff with the grand jury. It was gonna be - it was clear to you when you sat in my office - I mean, I made it clear we were going to pursue the case and we would file the charges.
SCOTT: Pursue the case.
SCOTT: But it wasn't clear that it was -
ROBERTA: Then, well, maybe we were off on semantics.
LESSLER: There may have been an honest misunderstanding on your part, Scott, but that - we're - you know, from my point of view, you know, I'm not here to debate that. ¬
SCOTT: I had that -
LESSLER: It doesn't matter - and that's okay.
SCOTT: - I had to find out.
LESSLER: Okay. That's fine.
ROBERTA: I also phoned you and talked about that and we also had discussed that several other times so I - you know, what don't you understanding about that?
SCOTT: I had a question.
ROBERTA: I had a - but I don't understand what the issue is. You felt like you were lied to? Is that what you feel like? That you were lied to about that?
SCOTT: Yes, I do.
MAN 1: About what? About charging?
SCOTT: We're gonna take it before the grand jury without a charge.
MAN 1: Oh.
SCOTT: And that's how -
MAN 1: But that's what happens. It's charged.
MAN 2: Well, that's pretty serious; very to think you're being intentionally misled by someone in our office which I know wasn't the case.
SCOTT: That's 100% how it -
MAN 2: Huh. Okay.
MAN 1: Just to add a little bit more to, you know, to that. We were kinda run around for different officers on the case, no question about it.
MAN 2: Sure.
MAN 1: We talked about -
MAN 2: Sure.
MAN 1: Grand jury or not. I mean, you know, but we felt - we felt pretty confident about being able to make the charge - you know, charge it and proceed the way we did because we felt like there was certainly plenty of evidence to bring the charge and here there were lots of follow up and odds and ends and loose ends but the bulk of it in terms of the charging determination was pretty clear. And we felt relatively very confident about the second degree murder charge and so - to establish that it was a fairly easy call for us to make, I guess, is one way to look at it, once we got the reports and stuff. It was a pretty easy charging decision for us to make. We felt that we could go ahead and make it now and it certainly wasn't that it - publicly to the community and everybody else to file a complaint the way we did and I think we've seen some (?) in that, at least we put - that fire was put out, if you will.
But the charging decision was pretty easy for us to make. Second degree murder.
ROBERTA: I guess it was just a misunderstanding as to what you thought my intentions were at the time.
SCOTT: Yeah, yeah I thought -
MAN 1: Yeah, things - well things were happening pretty quickly and we - we were all over the place. You know. We're at that part of the case as well in terms of the procedure and how we're gonna charge, either a grand jury or not. I mean, there's no question that we were covering all over the playing (?) as we were processing here.
MAN 3: Well, the point - and I wasn't in on the earlier conversations, but this afternoon, (unintelligible) some of the kinds of things that I discussed - if Scott remains as the lead detective on this thing, is - you will have to be convinced and his - his performance, his attitude, his demeanor, everything, will have to be such that it does not create visual problems. Scott has said that he is desirous of doing that and able to do that. To put aside feelings, past emotions, the kinds of things that have gone on heretofore, and to move forward. Now, I don't what to shipwreck this case. I really don't. And I think I clearly understand the predicament that you have outlined here. At the same time, I've got an organization to run that is based upon trust and if there is an appearance that for whatever reasons I don't have confidence or I don't trust my men, that has a real detrimental and undermining effect. I have found Scott to be an effective, hard working, honest detective and his work - personally, I have not found flawed. I have found he does a good job.
To my knowledge, this is the first kind of a major misunderstanding we've run into. And Scott has said he's willing to move forward, recognizing that whatever kinds of things he mentioned ago - he felt like that he had not been told the truth, I think that the day before yesterday when we met, Roberta had some of the same feelings which she shared, that she had learned from the records people that reports had been released to the Payson news media and Scott had sat there with that meeting with us and not disclosed that. That caused her to feel like he was being less than candid, less than straight forward.
Well, those things, from our standpoint, I think we're willing to put that aside. And I'm willing to make a commitment to you to move forward. Based upon this man's word to me, he will - he will be professional in every sense. He will be firm. I will require his work to be adequately supervised by Dean Wells. And if there are any inklings that things aren't - if you're choking with - either at the present time, we need to talk about further or some future thing occurs, I will go and I will try to arrange that. If there's a further glitch that you still feel this is not working and we need to pull Scott off (?), that's the possibility of an inevitable decision down the road. I'm saying based on what I see right now, it would be my recommendation not to fly in the face of your wishes but for internal reasons to have him continue on as the detective and to try to work with you guys as strongly as we can. ¬
And David, I rely heavily upon your input again. Might as well. And the lady across the wayside here, I think she's a very competent, very thorough lawyer and she and Scott are gonna have to work together, very much in harmony and - if that's - if there's some reluctance to that, if you don't feel good about that, then we probably need to say something right now to either air it or make the change in mid course direction.
ROBERTA: Well, we - we do have some issues if we're gonna work - that we need to get cleared up, I think we can clear up with everybody and make sure we're all on the same level. (?) You know, I don't know if you want to do that now.
MAN: I think that's fine where we - I think we're heading for, isn't it?
MAN: Yeah, let's try to clear the air of some stuff. And we're - you know, Roberta will be - and Mike seemed to be involved in the grand jury process as well. He may have - we've already talked a few days ago, couple of days ago, whatever, earlier this week, about having Mike - before all these meetings, we talked about having Mike maybe present the case to the grand jury cause it might make sense. And so, the -
ROBERTA: I have other things to do.
ROBERTA: Mike doesn't. I'm kidding.
MAN: Robert's involvement will be fairly short in this case, Mike's much longer. But still he should fill, you know, a key role. I agree, if there's something that needs to be aired out.
ROBERTA: Well, and part of what I do is to try to find issues for attorney that's gonna be handling the case, too, and one of these was obvious to everyone is the public - publicity issue. That may create an appearance of conflict at trial and whether or not it will affect the integrity of the presentation of the case. Which is, you know, our foremost concern. My other concern, and I think the root of the problem is, Scott, is your - is a lack of communication. You know, you may think you're communicating to - and you leave the room and we're in two different ball fields. Obviously. That's happened how many times now? So, you know, and then I don't know if that's just part of the resentment to the office or just, you know, we need to learn how to communicate with the two of us. I don't know, because, you know, things have just - we have not been on the same plane.
I called up the defense attorney, we were on the square on the defense interview for you to do that. And the next thing I know, you just say it's a no go. You know. We have a deadline. It was a short time. There was no explanation. No, "hey, this is why." You just - you sounded fishy and, you know, you said the guy - Melvin said he didn't like the stunt you pulled. What stunt? What stunts have -
SCOTT: Those are his words.
ROBERTA: Well, was there more of the conversation? I'm just saying for some reason, all of a sudden it changed and I have no explanation from you. You know, and I've just gotten the follow up from concealed weapons that I thought wasn't as thorough as I told you, that I thought you had lied and I was disappointed in that. And I didn't know about what kind of work product that you were - you know, if you're just gonna do - if I have to follow up everything, you know, piece by piece, to follow up or whether I can just say, you know, "go interview other employees that he's ever worked with," and, you know, I know you know what you're doing but is it gonna be a passive resistant kind of thing? You know. If you'll say you'll do but you'll just do what I ask without, you know, doing 100%. And that was my concern after receiving that (?) and after the - the little (?) I got from you regarding the conversation with Mel. I was out, you know, I have no idea what's going on. And - and I've got to be kept in the loop. We've got to work together; we've got to communicate. That's how I operate. I expect that from who I work with and I will have zero tolerance. And I will call you on it just like I've done in this case. I don't play that way (?) and I'm not going to in this case.
And if we don't understand something, that's when a phone call is made and you say, "I don't understand this. Can you explain what's going on?" rather than like on Friday when you called and basically called me a liar, that I hadn't told you and I don't -
SCOTT: I never called you a liar.
ROBERTA: Well, you said, you didn't believe me. You said you've been leaving me messages on my cell phone. And it's your attitude. It puts me automatically in a defensive position and I don't like being put in that. I don't lie to people. I don't have time to lie to people. I don't have time to sit around and bullshit about things. I want to get the job done and move on to the next task and that's how I operate and I expect that with who I operate with. And (?) getting that reciprocated to me, you know, we had this issue about the disclosure. You know, we had this whole concern, you know. I don't know - you've been a detective for 18 years, 12 years?
ROBERTA: Well, you've been (?) for how long?
ROBERTA: Okay. You know, the whole grand jury subpoena issue just blew my mind. You know. Got those records for you and the next thing I know it's in the paper on the weekend. You know what, it's just something that I didn't even think I would have to tell you not to release. You guys should -
ROBERTA: - the other issue is, you know, then I find out you guys are all pissed about how they release all these records. Why the hell didn't anybody call me? You guys are all in this little conversation in the sheriff's department about having to release this information, call me. Couldn't anyone not pick up the phone? I mean - you know, why is that, guys? Tell - I really want to hear an answer on that?
MAN: Why? Because administratively we were told we needed to do it and we - (someone coughs) you know, through the chief, you know, with the county attorney's office and it was just - it moved beyond, you know, up to a top level. Granted, there's obviously some communication issues with that but, you know, that was the way that this went down. It wasn't like we're not gonna communicate with you or anything else. It was, "okay, we're gonna get an opinion from the county attorney, and" unfortunately there was miscommunication involved with that, but -
ROBERTA: Well, the work -the cases are being worked in conjunction with your office and our office and my understanding in just the few years I've been here is that the two parties operate and then plan strategy on the release of the information, how it's going to be disseminated, to whom and to when, and to the timing, work with the attorneys on the particular case, someone who actually knows about the facts and that's what's going on. And it blows my mind that this isn't the first case that you all have worked up here. I know you guys have tons of experience so why did it happen in this case? I mean, you start adding up all these things and from my perspective it looks like you guys don't really want to go (?) at this guy and you gotta look at it from my side.
I get all this reluctance; nobody's calling on the key issues. I get half-assed emails and I don't get the communication. And I get - you know, and so from my opinion, I am being overly cautious because that's what I'm seeing. And so you've gotta put yourself in my shoes. I'm not seeing anything else. And so I'm the red flag (?) and I think we might have a problem and I alert my colleagues, my team players and say, you know, we need to nip this in the bud now before we get too far down the road. And so please try to understand where I'm coming from and what it may appear given that I know the positions of half a dozen of you guys over there on this case and - and, you know, your feelings towards the office and is that gonna come into play. And that's where I'm coming from and I hope you understand that.
MAN: One of the things, just to touch on something that you mentioned, if I can clarify. Are you thinking that in reference to the interview that the attorney had said that, you know, we can do another interview, that Scott somehow maliciously, you know, arranged it so they basically told not - we're not doing it anymore? I mean, is that the feeling that you have?
ROBERTA: There was a conversation took place that somehow caused Mel McDonald to get angry to make a statement that he's tired of their stunts. I don't understand where that comes from. What - since I've been talking to Melvin McDonald on a professional basis -
MAN: It wasn't that - I think that's another communication issue -
ROBERTA: It may be, but that's why I'm saying it appears to me the impression there's stuff going on behind the scenes that I'm not privy do and that is undermining our case.
SCOTT: Let me address, I spoke directly with Mel at the request you emailed and said, ďHey Scott, weíve set the interview for Friday, that you guys will need to go and reportĒ And from that I said, ďwell, sure, I called him up and said, ĎMel, Roberta wants to set this interview up and - (?) Friday,Ē and he goes, ďYouíve got to be kidding me. After the stunt they just pulled. All they want to do is get information on my client that (?)Ē and Iím like, ďwhoa, whoa, I thought you guys had made an arrangement.Ē
ROBERTA: Well, thatís not true, but Ė itís not the conversations Iíve had.
SCOTT: And I - I mean, from his side, I mean, this conversation was real - it was very brief. It was very brief. And I Ė Iím sorry I even Ė ďNo interview. Iíll let Roberta know.Ē I have to apologize for the email; I was headed out the door and I thought Iím gonna let you know and I said itís a no go. I mean, it was that short. I didnít know it would be taken personally. It was not intentionally to be personally on the (?) or anything, I wasnít-
ROBERTA: Well, it wasnít Ė itís not personally Ė itís on a professional level that I need to know more of the context of whatís going on. I mean, if you ran out, then just say, ďIíll call you later and fill you in,Ē you know.
ROBERTA: Rather than that ďI had a discussionĒ - that was all you had to tell me, so.
SCOTT: At this point, Iíd like to have a meeting with the Sheriffís Administration here if I could.
MAN: So you want us to step out?
SCOTT: Sure. It was a very short conversation and Mel was like - I donít even know what happened. It wasnít intentional. It was short. It was on my part. Thatís just one of the issues here. Mike brought this to the table. Down the road, this thing where you can in the long term pick the sheriffís office, Iím (?) with the sheriffís office whether - I mean, thatís just a fact of life. And Iím very proud of that. I said, well Ė weíre not, Roberta and I are not communicating. And I know thatís very clear and I Ė thatís something that probably the (?) trait, I carry the trait I carry the integradation itís not real. Iíve been known to - people look at me, you know, what are you upset about? Hell, but itís a trait (?). Iíve listened to my (?) thatís made, overwhelming effect on me. Roberta, in my opinion, is I think is going to be very difficult to work for her. I mean, I can be very biased but I - to have someone that says weíre not communicating and from my standpoint I feel I am communicating cause I have done everything sheís asked; yes, thereís some questions I should have asked but that kinda goes with (?) we come back and re interview.
On this case, I have to be brutally honest with myself first. And I have to tell you that I personally do not feel I can work with Roberta on this case. Thatís one. And two, I do not want to put Mike Lessler in a position that weíre up there in a cross examine situation and come back and sit down and thatís gonna be circus, for lack of words. I will not do anything to jeopardize him. I have an excellent working relationship with Mike in the Minnix case thatís gonna be coming up that is an extremely serious death penalty (?) death penalty type case.
MAN: He expressed that to me.
SCOTT: And you know, itís - I gotta sit back and say that I honestly from sitting here listening do not feel that I could be - or that I could work with the Coconino County Attorneyís Office. Thatís my stand.
MAN: I support you, Scott. I hope I made that clear.
SCOTT: You have.
MAN: But if itís - if you are convinced that itís in everybodyís best interest, including yours, that you on your own would recluse - recuse yourself, anyway, excuse yourself -
SCOTT: Excuse is the only word I know.
MAN: Recuse, recuse, yourself - I think thatís what you are saying, for whatís - for all kinds of reasons.
SCOTT: Thereís numerous reasons.
SCOTT: Thereís numerous reasons and so - before I came in here, this was something I did not want to do but I have to look at all the circumstances here and in the best interests of someone else to work this case, but itís against what - I mean, itís not one of those - I did not want off this case but Mike made a lot of sense. I look at the long run. Thatís where the battleís gonna be. I look at Roberta, sheís - she is different. This isnít the same Roberta I know.
MAN: I know Iím shocked, personally.
SCOTT: I have worked with her so well over the years. This is not the Roberta I know and I just - I donít know that I can communicate with her any better. I felt I was. Iíve done what sheís asked and that -
MAN 1: (?) conference with Jeff or Dean prior to me calling them back here.
MAN 2: I think, Scott, if youíre willing to step aside and let someone else take it because of what Mike says, I think that shows a lot of character. I think the ultimately goal should be whatever they decide for (?) and you know, what you were saying that the case must be difficult, I appreciate that. You - that youíre willing to step down from that. I know itís not easy for you to do.
MAN 2: That shows a lot of character.
MAN 1: Dean, do you want to make any comments?
MAN 3: No, none.
MAN 1: No? Well, I will - I also (?) it does take - it takes character and it takes - it shows a depth of professionalism but I think the Sheriff and I and that if Jeff are still willing, if you - if you think you can work through this, then weíll leave you on.
MAN 2: Yeah. This hasnít changed our mind.
SCOTT: Okay, I understand. Itís - I think it makes it easier for you to understand that I appreciate your support; everyone I - Dean has been very supportive of me, but I have to realize due to the integrity, he (?) for the well of both organizations, that this is the right thing for me to do. So that way they can take their case. Iíll show up in court on whoever pulls me in, thatís what I do. And weíll address those issues from that standpoint. Okay. And Iím more than willing to make that announcement to them. You can make it to them.
SHERIFF: (?) Thanks you guys for giving us some - a few moments (?). Scott has stated to us he listened very intently to your comments and he wants this case to be successfully pursued and he wants to create that united front that is so important that you talked about. He has had some communication problems with Roberta and Scott has said that it is his desire to remove himself as the lead detective in this case. We can now make decisions to go from there but I would - if you - we support him and I told you that. But this man has shown, in my mind, huge character to be able to say for the integrity of both of our offices, for what they stand for, heís going to put his personal pride and his personal feelings aside and that strikes me right in the tender spot.
SCOTT: This is not an easy decision for an investigator. Iíve never done anything like this in my life. Dave knows me quite well and Dave knows how I feel about this office. That, and I told you the other day, Iím (?) your office. I do have issues with (?) but thatís between he and I. That has no bearings on this case. You strike a very valid point about if we end up in trial of how itís gonna look or could look or whatever. Iím being very fair with you that, you know, thereís questions I probably forgot to ask but thatís my mistake. I donít do anything half way. But out of the integrity of your office, the professionalism of both offices, and talking to my supervisor administrators that I voluntary pull myself off this case for the integrity of the case, for the continued long term association of our two agencies from a professional standpoint so we can walk away from this table with a handshake and better understanding of each other because whether we like it or not, weíre married to each other for the long run. I understand that and I see where youíre coming from. I see where youíre coming from and I would - I hope you understand my decision which I feel will support your decision for continued professional relations from here on. Thatís all I have.
DAVE: Well, we respect you (?) Scott and I just want to assure - I reiterate before we break up here, you know, Mikeís comments that - in a couple respects. First of all, and Iíve said this all along, for whatever mistakes may have been made or unfortunate things that happened in the press, theyíre not Ė theyíre not - (?) things, theyíre not big mistakes. It could happen to any of us. On one level theyíre rel - very simple little things, you know. It wasnít like any kind of - any huge intentional thing or, you know, they were very common, easy mistakes, if you will, over things - you know, terms of events that could happen to any of us. Especially when weíre talking about dealing with the press. I mean, thatís one of my biggest fears in my job. Every time I talk to anybody from the press, my blood pressure goes up and Iíve lost a lot of sleep waiting for the - to get the newspaper in the morning to see if they got it right, you know, because Iím worried about what I said or if I didnít say it right or if theyíre gonna take something out of context. It can happen to any of us, man.
And how much we respect you as a person. Iíve known you for a long time and Iíve said all along I appreciate working with you. You do good work and itís also fun working with you, you know. Youíve got a good spirit, good attitude. Mikeís comments about your humanity and your respect for people and life and stuff, Iíll always appreciate that about you. Plus the quality of your work is good. You do good work, so itís not about any of that and all of us empathize greatly with you in terms of what happened with the press on the case. And you know what? I think you had a moment when you lost your objectivity. Welcome to the human race. Weíve all - it happens to all of us and if it doesnít, then weíve probably got a heart issue, you know. I tell our people all the time, the biggest prerequisite to being a good prosecutor is you gotta have a big heart. It starts with a big heart. And itís the same thing on you guys is gonna to (?).
And so, I mean, that happens to all of us. Unfortunately, because of the frenzy and the context of this case and the human interest and everything else, we end up where we end up. Here we are. But the reasons for us getting here, I feel bad about and weíve never considered, you know, in and of itself to be big (?) or anything like that. We appreciate you. We respect you. Unfortunately, we are where we are.
DAVE: It could happen to any of us.
SHERIFF: Perhaps weíve done as much meeting for one day as any of us can handle and I ask tomorrow morning -- you guys and Ė weíll internally talk about how weíre going to make this transition and the means to doing that that creates the kind of dynamic that is most positive in your mind.
LESSLER: Sure. And Sheriff, I have to actually leave right now for Phoenix and Iím gonna be in Phoenix tomorrow.
LESSLER: That might even, you know, Iím sure Dave will be here and if he wanted to speak with me personally about it, I would be more than happy to do that with any of you guys and that would give you a chance maybe to talk amongst yourselves to shop -
MAN: Yeah. Weíll do that.
LESSLER: Then we can - then we can maybe early next week we can talk.
LESSLER: And, you know, weíre still together on Minnix, you know, and itís Ė thatís going full bore and we gotta get together on things.
SHERIFF: You guys got a date for that?
LESSLER: We donít have a date for that yet. We do not have a date yet. But we have a case management conference on the 29th of this month at which time a date will be set. And we got a lot of work, especially me, on our officeís end on that case. So weíll be working -
SCOTT: (?) circumstances.
MAN: So you and (?) and I need to get together on that.
ROBERTA: And Iíd like to invite - if you have more issues or anything youíd like to put out, open my - office door is open, same with you to come in and letís clear the air so we can, you know, go forward. Cause this sucks. I (?) one of my favorite guys over there, you know, with the SO guys and I donít - this has not been good and I donít want to have bad feelings or misunderstandings if thatís what itís been this entire time. I want that to be cleared up and Iíd like you to communicate that with me. Thatís my request.
SCOTT: Iíd like to work on that.
ROBERTA: Okay. And Dean, you too.
SCOTT: Roberta (?) I will understand, you know, from a prosecuting standpoint that at this point this has not been a fun case for you. But I will share with you from an investigatorís standpoint, this has been tough.
DEAN: Yeah. For sure.
SCOTT: So, Iíll leave it at that.
DEAN: Yeah. And I (?) the days when (?) this being a (?) very gutsy so. But I think that it can and will work and I know we will work very effectively with
MAN: Oh absolutely, yeah. (?)
MAN 2: Same here.
MAN 3: Some of the traffic will have let down.
(everyoneís talking over each other)
DAVE: ... weíre trying to keep them together. Yes, and one of the advantages of having pled both (?) is calling them as witnesses as (?) minimum chances of severance.
MAN: Thank you guys. Maybe (?) for just a couple moments.
(everyone talking - meeting breaking up; CA reps leave)
SHERIFF: I think we ought to get together in the morning and look at what internally we think some of the ramifications of this choice will be and what we need to do to be prepared to move forward. You have some suggestions?
DEAN: Can you do it early or later? I have a - my step daughterís graduating high school tonight.
SHERIFF: Oh yeah. Yeah, yeah. What would be a time -
DEAN: Well, Iíll be off tomorrow. Iíve got (?) and everything.
(talking over each other)
SHERIFF: Whatís your second, who was helping you?
SCOTT: There wasnít a second, actually. I mean, because this is one that didnít involve (?)
DEAN: Yeah, weíre the ones -
MAN: No, I had (?) and I had Mike (?) there ... and I talked to Mike earlier about, you know, cause I wasnít sure if you were gonna be in tomorrow so I went out and started walking more on this, just doing background.
MAN 1: Who would you -
SCOTT: I would rather not -
MAN: - are you in position?
SCOTT: Yeah, cause I feel like that is not what I should do.
SCOTT: I donít think itís my place to recommend somebody. I Ė itís just not.
SCOTT: So. I just - this is something I felt I had to do. This is - I donít Ė itís - I own it, so, you know - we came over here with the - well, I know I did and I know Dean did, that Iím staying on this case.
MAN: That was all our intents so we were going work through it.
SCOTT: But I - I - Mike had a very valid point. I wanted to hear it from him. I respect him better than I Ė sheís not the same Roberta.
MAN: I think itíd be very important if you chose -
SCOTT: - Roberta. Iím gonna unkind.
SCOTT: She - I know Roberta. This is not the Roberta I know.
MAN: Would you share any of your feelings with your colleagues?
DEAN: Is this a general question?
MAN: Well, yeah, I mean, I guess - I had made some statements that I guess as the acting supervisor for the division, I guess Iím looking to you for some at least thoughts or comments about whatís going on and Scottís decision and kind of where we are.
DEAN: And said some of it Iíve already voiced some of it (?) I guess to Scott that thereís definitely that communication problem. I think maybe, you know, definitely long term that this could be best. I have my concerns with Roberta. Sheís been one of my closes allies over here for a long time and my trust will probably never be the same where itís at. Iíll try to work through some stuff. I mean, itís not personal where Iím not gonna work with her in the future but I probably wonít have any desire to grab sushi after work like I have in the past, you know, so. That wonít be special and Iíll sit down with her and work through some things but Iíll be honest with you, she has some communication problems. And - and it (?) I witnessed both Scott and her and she was wrong. Flat out. And now we just got move on.
And you know, in reference to who can take the case, anybody whoís qualified and one thing that I had put in evaluation for Mike is Iíd like to see (?) homicide and thatís not a whole lot of, kinda have like a format of the situation maybe I can go ahead and have him move forward. And itís a (?) evaluation that I want him to take through a homicide as a (?) so, I think most of the workís already done, but ‚Äď you know, so thereís (?) on that part also.
SCOTT: And once you guys finalize the decision, Iíll sit down and go over in detail of the - everything thatís been done and - I mean, thereís - I mean, thereís lots more that needs to be done so, you know. Weíve probably want to get (fades) what we need to do on that (?)
MAN: Well, if youíve both got commitments for tomorrow and I think weíve had so much discussion on this as we can right now, my concern is the implications on Scottís (noise interference) handling of the decision to make this and the - how that is communicated to the other members of CI and the implications of that are a concern to me.
DEAN: I donít think Scott or I will, you know, said - the three of you out there is gonna be viewed more behind our back because thatís not the case.
SCOTT: That is not the case.
DEAN: And youíre not -
MAN: Heís not gonna take it - do they want to take it. It doesnít matter what you say. It doesít matter what I say. It doesnít matter what Scott says.
DEAN: I think it does matter what I say (talking over each)
MAN: Youíll have to excuse me. Iíve got 25 people that are talking in here about the file for life. Youíre not setting that up again, are you?
MAN 2: I mean itís a very courageous decision.
DEAN: You know, I just had (?) of you - I donít think either one of us could set that scenario up.
SCOTT: I will personally - no.
MAN: Youíve got a strong team and I know that the feelings, the convictions, the opinions are strongly held and as a couple of guys suggested when they were walking, if theyíd asked me Iíd have said the same thing. I own that same opinion, too, so that - and you said that yesterday, so - everybody back there shares some of the opinion, some of the emotion of this case. They worked with it and through it and they talked about it on an hourly basis. And - and so - I guess Iím concerned that we communicate as clearly as we can that this was a difficult decision for this man to make and his courage really showed through. And I donít sense - I mean, thatís (?) position but I didnít sense coercion on their part to say, ďif you felt weĒ - you know, there was not that -
SCOTT: I didnít either.
DEAN: No, no. You know, honestly, I think Rozema was accurate, I think you know, he was accurate. You know, even if Roberta wasnít lying, she - if I had - but - bottom line is I think you know, they were sincere and -
MAN: And Lessler - I donít know if articulated here but when we were at lunch he made it very clear if youíre on it, they would work together and he would do it, you know, do whatever needs to be done.
DEAN: I believe him. I donít think that was the case with Roberta. I think there was too much of a bridge to cover.
SCOTT: Thatís the way I feel.
MAN: Well, you got - congratulations to your young man for the graduation and Billís son graduates tomorrow?
MAN 2: Yeah.
MAN: Did you have a graduate this year? Youíre past that.
MAN 2: My youngest is 22.
MAN 2: Next year she graduates from college.
SCOTT: I did - my daughter, my last girl graduated in (?) Texas here two weeks ago. She entered the (?); she made National Honor Society ... as far as talking to CI on that, I mean, I made the decision. I wasnít Ė didnít have my arm twisted. It was voluntary and that - if they have to hear it from the horseís mouth, Iíll tell them.
DEAN: And if things were different, I mean, if I felt that you hadnít supported him, Iíd be pissed. And, you know, but that wasnít the case.
SCOTT: I feel like you have, and Bill as well, and Jeff, have been very supportive and - so thereís -
MAN: Letís everybody go have some supper.
DEAN: Iíll probably still be in the morning and Iíll talk to Mike but Iím probably take off tomorrow.
SCOTT: Yeah, call me at home.
MAN: Spend some time with your family. Itís the biggest thing ...
[end of recording]
Last Edited 02/27/2008