Judge postpones hearing on special prosecutor
A deputy district attorney said Wednesday he “relishes the opportunity” to cross-examine a former prosecutor regarding her allegations of unequal treatment of cases by the district attorney’s office.However, that opportunity will wait at least a month after deputy district attorney Scott Turner won a judge’s approval for a delay in a hearing on a request for a special prosecutor.Jeff Cheney, a former prosecutor in District Attorney Colleen Truden’s office, has requested a special prosecutor in a case involving the shooting of a dog near New Castle. Now a defense attorney, he said he fears his client, Ken Newton, 50, will receive unfair treatment by the district attorney’s office because Cheney has been involved in the campaign to recall Truden.In his request for a special prosecutor, Cheney is calling as a witness Katherine Steers, who resigned as a prosecutor in August and accused Truden of abusing her power. Steers says Truden made prosecution decisions according to what defense attorneys have said publicly about the district attorney’s office, “instead of basing them on the case and doing what’s right for the defendant.”Steers has filed an ethics complaint against Truden. Truden, who faces a recall election Dec. 13, disputes Steers’ allegations.Cheney had hoped to have District Court Judge Dan Petre consider his request at a hearing Wednesday. However, Petre delayed the hearing until Nov. 14, in part because only an hour had been scheduled for it. While Cheney thought that would be sufficient, Turner estimated the hearing would take two hours.”I can’t imagine my cross-examination of Ms. Steers would take less than an hour,” Turner said.He said he may also call rebuttal witnesses in the case.Newton faces felony charges of tampering with physical evidence and criminal mischief and a misdemeanor charge of animal cruelty for allegedly shooting and burying his neighbor’s dog near New Castle and not telling her what he had done.In his motion for a special prosecutor, Cheney cited Steers’ allegations that Truden and assistant District Attorney Vince Felletter threatened defense attorneys with bad plea deals if they spoke out against the district attorney’s office.Cheney wrote that “the allegations on their face reflect a possible compromise in the integrity of our judicial system.” He said a special prosecutor is warranted because of the “appearance of impropriety.”In a counter motion, Turner responded, “That is comparable to stating that [a] defendant is guilty merely because he has been charged.”
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