"Manifest necessity" - it sounds like some political philosophy or foreign policy. Unfortunately, it was the actual reason given by Judge Benjamin Chavez for the recent dismissal of a DWI case being heard in his courtroom.
The facts of the case are fairly simple. According to police reports, Alicia A. Cleary was arrested May 9, 2007 for Aggravated DWI (3rd or Subsequent), Leaving the Scene of an Accident, and Careless Driving. She had been observed hitting a pole on Academy and APD issued an attempt to locate bulletin on a Corvette last seen headed East on Academy with debris hanging from the vehicle.
Not too long after the advisory the Corvette was observed turning West on Osuna Rd from Eubank. APD officer Locke followed the Corvette to an apartment complex just West of Osuna where he initiated a traffic stop. At the time there was a male driving the vehicle who exhibited signs of intoxication. He told the officer that Cleary had been driving and had hit a pole on Academy - an assertion that was confirmed by Ms. Cleary.
A DWI officer was called and a DWI investigation ensued whereby Ms. Cleary was administered a field sobriety test which according to police records, she failed. Ms. Cleary later refused to take a breathalyzer test but was arrested on the strength of the failed field sobriety test.
Ms. Cleary wisely obtained defense council (which by the way we recommend). You see this wasn't Ms. Cleary's first rodeo, at the time she had 2 prior DWI convictions and 4 prior arrests. The attorney chosen to represent Ms. Cleary was David Crum.
So far, there really isn't anything particularly remarkable about this case. We've got a defendant with 2 priors grinding her way through the system that lands her in court February 28, 2008.
Our Eyes tell us that the case proceeded normally right up until the prosecution rested. At that time Defense Attorney Crum objected to the state not calling any witnesses from the car - which by the way they don't have to do. The state is only required to call witnesses for their case. They are also required to turn over any and all evidence in the state's possession to the defense.
The defense has the ability to call any witnesses including any passengers that may have been in the vehicle at the time of the alleged DWI. Therefore it is not incumbent upon the prosecution to call witnesses for the defense.
You'd think that there would be a short discussion of the motion, it would be denied and the trial would proceed normally. In this case, you'd be wrong. According to court documents, Judge Benjamin Chavez declared a mistrial for "manifest necessity."
We're still trying to figure out what the heck that's supposed to mean, but there might be a clue in the fact that it appears that attorney David Crum is a financial supporter of Judge Chavez's campaign for District Court Judge.
It seems that Chavez (the one in a robe, not the one from on high), has decided to set his sights on District Court. Our Eyes tell us that David Crum has been a supporter of the judge in the past and was all set to host a fundraiser for Chavez that very night.
If true, Judge Chavez's necessity has become manifest with a questionable decision involving a habitual offender for an attorney who's supporting him financially. At best the decision creates an appearance of impropriety. At worst, he could be guilty of misconduct. After all, there's very little difference between fellow Metro Court Judge J. Wayne Griego fixing tickets for family and friends and Judge Chavez apparently having an alternate and personal consideration when issuing a mistrial.
We understand that MADD was in the room and that they were well... not happy. We'll see if anything comes of this but if true, we certainly wouldn't want to see Chavez continue in Metro Court much less District Court.
Quote of the Day
Does this sound familiar? This is right from the dictionary and seems to describe Albuquerque, Berry and Schultz. Fascism (f ash ,izem) noun An authoritarian right wing system of government and/or social organization. (in general use) extreme right wing, authoritarian, chauvinistic and/or intolerant views or practices. Fascism tends to include a belief in the supremacy of one group over another, national, ethnic, especially social strata or monetarily; a contempt for democracy, an insistence on obedience to a powerful leader, and a strong demagogic approach. Compliments of one of our Eyes