Thursday, October 08, 2009

Allen Steed and the Statute of Limitations, December 3rd.

It's starting to sound like a Harry Potter novel, isn't it?
The Salt Lake Tribune - "Allen G. Steed, 28, was charged with rape in 2007, days after testifying as a defense witness in the criminal trial of Warren S. Jeffs, president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Steed's attorneys argue the charge, tied to Steed's marriage to Elissa Wall in 2001, was filed too late to be valid and was not properly reported to law enforcement. They have asked 5th District Judge G. Rand Beacham to dismiss the case.

Washington County Attorney Brock Belnap argues that the charge is covered by an eight-year deadline -- called a statute of limitations -- that was adopted before the previous four-year statute of limitations had expired. Lamont Barlow, Wall's second husband, disclosed the rape allegation in a breakfast meeting with an Arizona investigator in 2005."
Whatever happens it would seem to be an open and shut case. Either it was reported to the proper authorities under an applicable statute or it wasn't. These cases though are highly politicized and there is certain to be a lot of pressure on the judge to say it was reported in a timely fashion. This is the sort of thing that frequently is ruled on politically at the first level, and later reversed.

Sphere: Related Content


kbp said...

I must admit that I am not real familiar with any case law on how a new statute of limitations is applied to a crime that would expire under the old one before any charges are filed.

I suppose reading the cases cited by both the defense and prosecutor, if any were, would be of help. Have not read the filings by either yet and am not certain where to get them. Any help on that out there? TIA

I do recall a few cases where the statute of limitation had been extended and the prosecution still charged a "John Doe" within the old limit to try to show charges had been filed within that old limit. Never followed any to see if they found "John Doe" later or what happened. I just recall being baffled that such a move would work, if it actually did.

The Pharisee said...

Short form of the argument. Bradshaw (Steed's Attorney) says you can't be vague about the incident date, if you are, the earliest possible incident date must be selected, and that places the event outside the statute's provision for limitations with regard to reporting.

Next, that the claimed reporting date is wrong, because the person claiming to receive the report did not have agency for the entity (Utah law enforcement) that this person MUST HAVE by statute. He cited pretty clear case law for all of this and the statute and it's declared intent.

The law was changed in Utah to expand the limitation in ways that relate to discovery of the perpetrator. Namely, Elissa is raped in a dark alley, let us suppose, and does not know her attacker. Later DNA evaluation reveals her attacker, because, let us say, he rapes again and is caught and is put in a database. He is then allowed to be reported and prosecuted because Elissa reports the rape in a timely way, but cannot name her attacker.

For that reason Bradshaw (Steed's Attorney) argues that the new statute's NEW set of limitations does not apply, that Elissa reported governed by the old law and knew who her attacker was so Allen Steed cannot be prosecuted for the crime for the two reasons given above.

She did not report the crime in any way shape or form to the proper authorities in the given time limit of the law.

The date of reporting is governed by the first possible incident, not a range of dates that are vague. Elissa would have to say conclusively that she reported to the proper authorities a specific incident date less than a certain number of years after that incident, and it would be governed by the old law.

I'm inclined to think that's right, but there are a lot of subtleties and case law I cannot evaluate. In addition, this is HYPER political and I expect that it possible it will be ruled on politically, so as to keep the case alive.

Scheduling the case in December shows that this is political. This can't be that hard for a judge. Walther didn't set a date for closing arguments in Texas, she just ruled and she ruled in a convenient way. The reason there is a scheduled court date here is because dragging feet serves the prosecution, in three states. Four if you count what's going on with Rozita in Colorado.