Judges ruling draws prosecutors ire
June 12, 2008 · Updated 10:41 AM
Kitsap County Prosecutor Russ Hauge is still contemplating whether to prevent Kitsap Superior Court Judge Anna Laurie from hearing any future criminal cases.
The idea was sparked by Lauries controversial verdict, issued last Thursday, in the Aaron Williams attempted murder trial.
The decision was so unsupportable another one like it cant be risked, said Hauge, who tried the case himself.
Laurie acquitted Williams of attempted murder for shooting at Bremerton Police Officer Mike Davis at Lions Field last July.
Instead, Laurie convicted Williams of a lesser charge second-degree assault and with harming a police dog in the fatal shooting of Buddy, Davis K-9 partner at the Bremerton Police Department.
The thing is, if Mr. Williams had simply pointed the gun at the police officer...then that would be second-degree assault in itself, Hauge said. But to fire his gun until it jammed, thats the mysterious thing. The case was thoroughly investigated by the police and the judge found all the facts (to be true) in the case.
Lauries verdict, handed down on Aug. 22, enraged the law enforcement community. Hauge, also upset over the ruling, filed affidavits of prejudice against Laurie in several new criminal cases late last week.
Under state law, such affidavits are not subject to appeal and automatically transfer criminal cases to a different judge.
Lauries newly filed criminal cases were transferred last Friday to fellow Superior Court Judge Russell Hartman.
Laurie was unavailable for comment earlier this week because she wont comment on pending cases Williams sentencing isnt scheduled to occur until Sept. 16.
Hauge is still considering whether to make it an office policy to file affidavits of prejudice against Laurie whenever deputy prosecutors bring forward a new felony criminal charge.
Hauge said he first wants to review a transcript of Lauries decision, which was handed down orally, before making his own.
By analyzing the transcript, Hauge said he can determine whether the decision was not based on fact, after comparing Lauries ruling against the record of the court proceedings.
Hauge has never before instituted such a standing policy in his eight years as the elected county prosecutor.
Under state law, any party to a criminal case whether its the prosecution or the defense can file an affidavit of prejudice against a judge if they dont think they could receive a fair trial.
No justification is required and there is no appeal.
There is one provision, however.
An affidavit cant be filed against a judge once that judge has made any ruling in the case in question.
Thats why Laurie is still assigned to the upcoming trial of Nicholas Hacheney, a former minister who is charged with premeditated first-degree murder in the death of his wife. Laurie has already made several rulings on expert witenesses and evidence.
Hauge estimates his office has filed one or two of these affidavits annually during his tenure.
Hauge is the one who ultimately decides whether to file the affidavits on behalf of the office and deputy prosecutors.
Late last week, Laurie acquitted Williams, 22, of first- or second-degree attempted murder and of first-degree assault.
Instead, she convicted him of second-degree assault a lesser charge and of harming a police dog.
Laurie reportedly ruled Williams had fired at least one shot in the direction of Davis after shooting and killing his police dog.
But that shot was taken in an attempt to escape the scene, not to kill or injure, Laurie ruled. That supported the second-degree assault conviction and the conviction of harming a police dog, according to Lauries ruling.
Laurie also found Williams was armed with a gun in committing both of those crimes and convicted him of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Hauge predicts a sentence of fewer than 10 years.
Last summer, Buddys death prompted an outpouring of community support that manifested in hundreds of sympathetic calls to police and more than $13,000 in donations.