Special prosecutor drops contempt charge against Greengrass | AspenTimes.com

Special prosecutor drops contempt charge against Greengrass

Convicted robber Moses Greengrass learned Friday that he won’t face additional jail time for refusing to testify against another of the defendants in the 1999 summer crime spree.

Special prosecutor John Clune dropped a contempt charge against Greengrass in a hearing on Friday. Clune said that while he didn’t condone the crimes that Greengrass had committed or some of his behavior after his arrest, “there may be something to be said for his loyalty to his friends.”

Greengrass was facing the contempt charge for refusing on Aug. 23, 2000, to testify against Stefan Schutter, who was being tried for the armed robbery of the Snowmass Village Market a year earlier.

If he had been convicted of contempt, Greengrass could have faced an additional six months in jail. Greengrass is currently serving a 12-year prison sentence for his role in the Village Market robbery.

Greengrass’ attorneys, public defenders Greg Greer and Jamie Gettman, argued that he didn’t commit contempt by refusing to testify because he was still covered by Fifth Amendment rights during Schutter’s trial. That amendment gives criminal defendants the right to remain silent.

At the time of the trial, Greengrass had been convicted of robbery and sentenced to 12 years in prison. However, his request for the reduction of his sentence was still pending in the court system.

“The prior conviction does not dissolve the Fifth Amendment privilege of Mr. Greengrass,” said a motion prepared by his lawyers. “When a defendant is seeking post-conviction relief, the Fifth Amendment privilege continues in order to protect him from the subsequent use of self-incriminating statements in the event relief is granted.”

Greer and Gettman cited People v. Villa, a case that was heard by the Colorado Court of Appeals in 1983, as legal precedent for their argument.

They further argued that any deal arranged for Greengrass’ testimony against Schutter by the district attorney’s office was null and void when a special prosecutor was later brought in to handle the case.

Clune said he didn’t agree with all the arguments, but he said points raised about the Villa case did seem valid in Greengrass’ contempt case.

District Judge Thomas Ossola had indicated before the contempt charge was dropped that he had questions on whether the Fifth Amendment privileges did apply.

He noted he hadn’t charged Greengrass with contempt on the spot in the Aug. 23 Schutter trial because he didn’t know then when the right to remain silent “evaporates.”

While the special prosecutor and public defenders came to similar conclusions on that issue, the contempt case created friction for other reasons.

Court documents show that Greer and Gettman were frustrated by Clune’s alleged lack of cooperation in disclosing his case against their client. Greer even filed a motion to impose sanctions for prosecutorial misconduct after Clune allegedly ignored a court order to respond to issues in the case.

Friday’s hearing occurred without further discussion of Greer’s allegations against Clune.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.

For tax deductible donations, click here.

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User