Elkhorn — The lawyer for an Elkhorn man accused of resisting an officer alleged this week that his client didn’t receive a fair trial because Walworth County deputies engaged in an “orchestrated effort” to intimidate jurors.
Witnesses testified that as many as 10 deputies stood in a line outside the courthouse and watched silently as jurors and defense attorneys left the building during the September trial, the Janesville Gazette reported.
That trial ended in a hung jury, and a new trial starts in September. Defense attorney Anthony Cotton wants the case tossed or tried in a different county.
Cotton represents Daniel White, a Sugar Creek man accused of resisting an officer, battery to law enforcement officers, failure to comply and disorderly conduct. White alleges that he was the victim of police brutality.
During a motion hearing Thursday, Cotton said deputies staged an “orchestrated effort” to intimidate the jury, denying White a fair trial.
White’s attorney during the September trial, Donna Kuchler, testified Thursday that at one point in the trial, the sheriff, undersheriff, captains and lieutenants entered the courtroom at the same time. The deputies gave them “grim” expressions and she and jurors left the courthouse.
Kuchler also cited a “tremendous presence of deputies” in the hallways, courtroom and courthouse. She said she didn’t report anything at the time because she figured she’d just deal with it, but said her concern grew after a juror approached her about feeling intimidated as well.
Deputy district attorney Joshua Grube said that deputies were in the courthouse, they were either doing their jobs or supporting a fellow deputy. He said any allegations that White received an unfair trial were “without merit.”
Prosecutors said the defense produced only innuendo and speculation, but no solid evidence, that any officer did anything to intimidate a juror. Cotton countered that it would be better to err on the side of caution by moving the case to a difference county.
Judge David Reddy said he’d issue a written decision but didn’t say by when.