Routt County Sheriff Gary Wall, left, and his attorney, Ron Smith, walk from the Routt County Sheriff's Office to the Routt County Justice Center on Wednesday morning.

Photo by Brandon Gee

Routt County Sheriff Gary Wall, left, and his attorney, Ron Smith, walk from the Routt County Sheriff's Office to the Routt County Justice Center on Wednesday morning.

Wall trial to be held in Routt County

Judge denies prosecution's motion to change venue

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— Routt County Sheriff Gary Wall's trial will be held in Routt County, Senior Judge Cecil Wayne Williams ruled Wednesday morning.

Wall is charged with driving under the influence of alcohol on the night of Oct. 27, 2007. Special prosecutor Karen Romeo requested a venue change because of media coverage that she claims has been "massive, pervasive and prejudicial to both sides." Wall's defense opposed the motion, and Wall's attorney, Ron Smith, even questioned Romeo's right to make such a request.

"The motion for change of venue I think comes out of the defendant's right to a fair trial," Smith said in court Wednesday.

Smith added he could not find one instance in Colorado case law of the prosecution making a motion to change venue. Williams pressed Smith and asked if he had found anything that specifically stated the prosecution could not make such a motion. Smith said he had not.

While he did not question Romeo's right to request a venue change, Williams did say it was the first time he had ever seen such a motion from the prosecution.

"That's an innovative motion, Ms. Romeo," Williams said.

Williams ultimately decided that any publicity concerns were outweighed by the fact that Wall had not waived his right to stand trial in Routt County.

"I do not find them to be massive," Williams said of Steamboat Pilot & Today newspaper articles Romeo submitted as a supplement to her motion. "I do not find them to be pervasive. And I do not find them to be prejudicial."

Out of 14 articles, Williams said only three came close to being prejudicial: a letter to the editor submitted by Bill and Cathie Voorhees and printed Dec. 23 that called for a recall of Wall; an editorial printed Oct. 31 that admonished Wall for refusing to discuss the charges against him; and a Dec. 21 article detailing a hearing at which the Colorado Department of Revenue upheld the Colorado State Patrol's one-year revocation of Wall's driver's license for his refusal to submit to any tests of his blood alcohol content.

Romeo also submitted dozens of pages of reader-submitted comments from the newspaper's Web site, www.steamboatpilot.com, as evidence for the need to move the trial. Those did not sway Williams either; he noted that only a very small number of people who posted identified themselves.

"I don't put much credence in these anonymous bloggings," Williams said. "It seems to me we've got to hear from the potential jurors in this community, and not from anonymous blogs, but under oath in this courtroom."

Romeo said she fears the court will waste time trying to hold the trial in Routt County, only to move it later after discovering potential jurors know about the case and already have formed an opinion about it.

"People are more apt to have a preconceived notion because they know the man," Romeo said. "Bottom line."

The Oct. 27 traffic stop resulted in Wall being charged with failure to dim his headlights, driving under the influence of alcohol and possession of a weapon while under the influence of alcohol.

Romeo also referenced stories about Wall printed before that night.

"I think the sheriff has been labeled controversial," Romeo said.

Comments

justathought 6 years, 10 months ago

No matter what the case, the defendants always have more rights than "the people' or a victim. So much for equal justice, no wonder there are so many plea bargains.

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letomayo 6 years, 10 months ago

Romeo sounds like another big ego person who wants her way and she uses these bolgs as evidence. That is a pretty unsmart person who thinks these blogs mean anything to anyone except those writing them including myself. Most of what you write here is mean and stupid including myself writing. Some people write just to try to make us think they are smart and there not including myself. Williams is smart to know Romeo has some other stupid reason for a change. I would be on the jury and be honest and fair and I bet other people would be too except for bloggers who wrote mean things.

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twostroketerror 6 years, 10 months ago

At least they found another picture of Wall, it's the only real progress in this story.

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portagetheyampa 6 years, 10 months ago

letomayo uses the word, "stupid" just a few too many times. He includes himself in that category. He makes gramatical errors ("...some people write to make us think they are smart and there not..." That should read "they're not.") Even this does not make letomayo "stupid," but perhaps he is just someone with a poor self image and no self confidence.

I have found the vast majority of comments on all articles appearing on this newspaper website to be written by people who do not appear to be "stupid," at all. Every citizen has a duty to participate on a jury, if selected, even "bloggers who wrote mean things."

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letomayo 6 years, 10 months ago

bloggers writing mean things done't have an open mind or they would not be mean and they would be more in the middle. Some of the things that are said sounds like they don't like him and are glad he is in trouble and that means they would be prejudiced jurers. I kind of write like I talk and really don't think spelling and grammer are too important as listening to what someone is saying.

You know sometimes we are all stupid. You just don't want to be stupid to much. Mean people are stupid to much and I don't want to sound like I am condemming others without knowing I am that way too sometimes. I don't believe pointing fingers is to smart without thinking about what you do and how you act and know you are wrong sometimes.

That's why Wall doesn't bother me all too much but I hope he has learned a big lesson and knows he made a big stupid mistake but I don't wish bad things to happen to him like others have done. Those people could not be good jurers.

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id04sp 6 years, 10 months ago

When the judge or the prosecutor asks potential jurors if they have posted remarks about this case on the Pilot forum, it would be highly coincidental for more than 1 in 100 to have participated. I suppose each juror will be asked, under oath, to say whether they have or have not.

Now, who here thinks that the Pilot will be subpoenaed for the real IDs of the posters, and who thinks the e-mails used to obtain IDs are not "Yahoo" or "Hot Mail" free IDs that were only used that one time, and who thinks the Routt County District Attorney is going to go to the trouble and expense of hauling Yahoo and Hot Mail into court to be told that the e-mail ID was obtained from a "public" computer, and then go find some library log in Ohio to figure out who is who?

I don't think so.

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CoJustice 6 years, 10 months ago

Id04: The Judge has already ruled on comments made on the Pilot forum. Wall is the one that did not want his case moved. The more fair questions should be as follows:

1) Who has not seen Wall consume alcohol in local establishments? 2) Who has Wall not represented in a DUI cases. 3) Who has Wall not represented in DUI Town Meetings? 4) Who has Wall not represented in his P.I. Business in regards to alcohol? 5) Who has not seen Wall drink alcohols at public fundraisers with his gun before? (not first time)

And so on . . . . . . .

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CoJustice 6 years, 10 months ago

If the DA hauls posters into Court, that would be just DANDY !!!! Because you can never be sued for slander for anything stated during a trial, public knowledge, printed, etc. People are free to sing like birds.

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CoJustice 6 years, 10 months ago

More interesting would be the DA to subpoena all the Attorney's records that Wall was employed for his P.I. services regarding his expert advise and professional witness testimony in regards to DUI's. That would be MORE DANDY!

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id04sp 6 years, 10 months ago

CoJo,

Someday I'd like to buy you a beer and find out why you dislike Wall so much.

My point on the questioning was only that, if either the DA or Wall's attorney asks if the potential juror has posted on the Pilot regarding this case, what are the chances of getting into trouble for lying about it and saying , "no." Pretty slim.

One thing here that does intrigue me is that guilty people almost always take a plea bargain in Routt County on minor charges of this nature, and in some cases, on much bigger issues. A guilty person has very little to lose around here by taking the plea bargain, as a search of the Pilot records for the words "plea bargain" will quickly show. For example, the guy who left the scene and allowed his passenger to die is already out after five months on "time served."

I don't think he believes he is guilty and is banking on a trial to let him off. I think he believes he is really not guilty and has a plan to prove it.

I know people who were NOT guilty who took the plea bargain just to get it over with and avoid a public trial.

I predict that the DA will present the case, and at its conclusion, Smith will move for a directed verdict of "not guilty" on the grounds that the State has not presented any chemical evidence of intoxicaton, and get it. The CSP could, indeed, have hauled Wall in for a chemical test and even gotten a search warrant for it based on the probable grounds of Wall's failure to dim his headlights and the odor of alcohol in the car. Bringing in a retired senior judge was a stroke of genius, because he has nothing to lose through his actions in this case.

The proof of a criminal violation is a BAC result which exceeds the legal limit. How is anybody going to prove it without a chemical test? The one year CDR revocation may stick, but a year passes surprisingly quickly and is quickly forgotten.

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Mary Stanton 6 years, 10 months ago

The fact of the matter is that if you say something in a court room, it BETTER be the truth because if you are found out, it is called perjury, and judges REALLY don't like that. If you slander someone in a court room, it most certainly CAN be used against you because it is on the RECORD, as in recorded, as in transcribed. As far as using hotmail and yahoo free accounts to get an ID, there are those who can track you through your IP address, which every computer has, no matter what name you use on the internet, you can be found by someone with the know-how to do it. Do I think the DA would waste time to check out whether or not each and every possible juror is telling the truth about whether they've posted or not? No, but if you aren't willing to stand up for your views than your just blowing hot air and its not even worth the time you've taken to write it.

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tedwhetherby 6 years, 9 months ago

The issue is a Steamboat Springs, Route County Issue involving how DUI laws are upheld and/or used. If they are used to for their intent of keeping the roads safe of impaired drivers or if the laws are used for any other reason. And if they are used for any other reason, what are these reasons? I think it is an issue that will bring many of the ways laws are used, from the city level right on down to the police level to the street level, to light and it ought be right in Route County, where citizens are similarly affected and the citizens, police, legal system as well as Wall will be a part of the education.

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id04sp 6 years, 9 months ago

Real one,

Boy, are you wrong about a lot of stuff. You can get a Yahoo e-mail account using a PUBLIC computer. That makes it untraceable back to an individual.

Does the Pilot track posts by IP address? That still doesn't stop the problem of using a public computer, does it?

Perjury is a laugh. I can show you where an attorney told a judge that a court case in another state had been withdrawn prior to entry of judgment, and it was a bald faced lie! The transcript of the judgment was in the case file. Do you honestly think a judge doesn't know that, once a defendant has filed an answer and a counterclaim in a lawsuit, the plaintiff cannot withdraw the action without the consent of the defendant? No way, Jose. The plaintiff had filed a suit in another state, and lost it, and then came back to Colorado for a do-over, which the local judge granted, and then entered judgment FOR the plaintiff in Colorado. That's all kinds of unlawful, illegal and unethical -- but if the attorney asking for the redo happens to be sitting on your judicial review committee, he might just get what he's asking for in Routt County. I know one that did.

The only way you get a conviction for perjury is to have made a statement which materially effected the outcome of a court case AND there is proof beyond a doubt that the person making the false statement actually KNEW it was false.

And, you cannot be held liable for any statement you make in court that you believe to be truthful and are willing to swear to. Even if you say, "He beats his wife. I've seen it in her eyes," the only thing anyone can do is say that you have no other evidence to back up your claim. If you get on the witness stand and say, "I know John Doe was drunk because he's an alcoholic and if he had one drink, then he had four drinks," nobody can touch you. That's just a point where his attorney is going to cross-examine you and ask you to tell how many drinks you actually saw him consume -- and he may remind you that you're under oath when he asks the question.

People accuse me of watching too much TV, but I've been in the courtroom and dealt with the attorneys and the judges and I know what really happens. A judge cannot be sued even for a willful, malicious act as long as he has jurisdiction over the subject matter and the parties to the case. Your only recourse is to file an appeal and hope you get honest judges in the higher courts. That's why you get three appeals (State Appeals, State Supreme, U. S. Supreme) from state court decisions.

In Greek drama, the "Deus Ex Machina" or "God out of a Machine" usually appeared at the end of the play to settle a conflict that was beyond Earthly resolution. On U. S. television programs, the "God" from the machine is usually a judge who makes a wise and lawful decision. Asking a corrupt judge for justice will do just about as much good as praying for Apollo to come down and melt the snow out of your driveway.

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