April 22, 2014 | 10:53 AMELKHORN — Judge David Reddy denied two motions filed by a Sugar Creek man who claims that Walworth County Sheriff’s deputies intimidated jurors during his September trial.
The attorney for Daniel White, 41, asked Reddy to dismiss the four criminal charges and, if the charges were not dismissed, to hold a future trial in a different county.
In his motion, Anthony Cotton, White’s attorney for that hearing, argued that a large presence of sheriff’s deputies in the gallery of the courtroom during the trial was an attempt to intimidate the jury into finding White guilty of charges related to accusations that White assaulted two deputies.
White claims he is the victim of a police cover-up and police brutality.
White was arrested on Sept. 22, 2012, after two Walworth County Sheriff’s deputies went to his home to investigate a neighbor dispute.
At White’s home, the deputies report that White refused to comply with police orders and was agitated by their presence. White has a large stockade fence around his property and the deputies asked White to secure his two pit bulls, which were running loose within the fenced in area, and to exit the fenced area.
The deputies claim White refused to comply with their orders, and that they entered the fenced in area to arrest White.
The deputies say White punched one of the officers. After striking the deputy with his fist, White either hit the deputy again with his fist or a wood board, according to the criminal complaint.
During the incident, one of White’s dogs allegedly bit the other deputy and that deputy used his Taser to subdue the dog. To arrest White, a deputy hit White in the face with his Taser.
White claims the two deputies attacked him and are lying about the incident to cover up their actions. He denies striking the deputies.
After the incident, White was arrested and charged with three felonies and one misdemeanor. After jurors failed to reach a verdict during the deliberations, the case was declared a mistrial and a new jury trial is scheduled for Sept. 29 through Oct. 7.
During the September 2013 jury trial, jurors did dismiss one felony charge that was filed after a separate incident. In the dismissed case, White was accused of driving around the Walworth County Sheriff’s Department parking lot. He had been court ordered not to have contact with the alleged victim’s in the case or their place of employment.
In the motions, Cotton argued that the venue should change because of the actions of law enforcement in Walworth County during the first trial.
In court motions, Cotton claims that deputies used drug dogs in the parking lot to search White’s car and defense attorney Donna Kuchler’s vehicle. Kuchler represented White during the jury trial and is set to defend him again this September.
Cotton also alleges that the courtroom gallery was packed with uniformed deputies, “who scrutinized the jury throughout the trial.”
Two jurors signed affidavits that stated they felt intimidated by the presence of law enforcement in the courtroom. However, Wisconsin Statutes prohibit juror affidavits from being entered into evidence.
The motions also accuse District Attorney Daniel Necci, who originally prosecuted the case, of asking a woman alleged to have had an extramarital affair with White to attend the trial.
During a March 27 motion hearing, Deputy District Attorney Joshua Grube argued that a case can only be dismissed under double jeopardy law is if the prosecutor attempted to cause a mistrial.
“At no point was the state working toward a mistrial, it was always to win the case,” Grube said during the motion.
On April 15, Reddy denied both of Cottons’ motions. In the motion to dismiss, Reddy ruled that the three reasons Cotton gave for dismissing the case weren’t enough.
“First is the presence of the (alleged mistress) during the trial. However, she was only present for a portion of the first day of trial,” Reddy wrote. “Second is jury intimidation. However, the use of the juror affidavits is prohibited (under state statutes).”
He also ruled that Kuchler testified that the deputies actions appeared to be “a scheme to acquire a guilty verdict.” Not to cause a mistrial.
Reddy also ruled that a motion to change the venue falls into two categories, pretrial publicity or the jury selection.
“The defendant fails to allege any pretrial publicity problem and it is premature to complain about the process of jury selection,” Reddy wrote in the ruling.
“Instead, the defendant alleges facts relating to the first jury trial with which he takes issue. However, the defense fails to cite any authority which supports his claim for relief based upon the facts alleged.”