Judge said the grand jury had been misled due to improper instructions from the DA.
(Placerville Calif.) - Buckley, a retired associate justice, said his first inclination would have been to refer the allegations back to the county grand jury with proper instructions, as he said the grand jury had been misled due to improper instructions. Count two troubled Buckley. This involves the nearly $72,000 Nutting received from the Sierra Coordinated Resource Management Council in 2009 that he attempted to report 4½ years after the fact.
Buckley said the grand jury that leveled the indictment against Nutting was not properly instructed and that because those 18 people had been disbanded without being told not to talk about the case it would be impossible to reconvene them to reconsider that specific count.
However, the grand jury has since been discharged and the information “tainted” due to widespread discussion of the case, he continued. And since there is probable cause that the defendant did commit the alleged offenses, the judge ruled against the motion to dismiss the case.
The judge added that in doing so, he was not determining what the jury would ultimately decide in the case since Nutting’s guilt or innocence would have to be established not by this proceedings standard of 'probable cause', but by the higher standard of 'beyond a reasonable doubt'.
Details of the complaint are posted on his website www.raynutting.com
On Sept. 20, Judge Tim Buckley denied the motions to dismiss the charges, as Nutting’s attorney David Weiner had requested. He is accused of not reporting the income, voting on contracts that affected him financially and perjury. Judge Timothy Buckley ruled that Supervisor Ray Nutting must face trial.
With that determined, Nutting then pled not guilty to all the charges and a trial date was set for Feb. 4 although other hearings for appeals and motions will occur later this year.
Following the hearing, Nutting’s attorney David Weiner noted that the judge ruled against them based on reasonable suspicion but no final judgement as to the merits of the case. “We anticipate prevailing,” he said, adding that, “the truth hasn’t been presented. It’s been one-sided with the grand jury misled with prejudiced and inaccurate information.”
“No surprises here,” Nutting told Lake Tahoe News as he left the courtroom. “(The judge) said the standard was reasonable suspicion. It’s the lowest of all standards. Anything lower is a mere guess,” Weiner told Lake Tahoe News after the hearing.
Weiner believes the accusations are politically motivated and that the grand jury was “misled by inaccurate, incomplete and prejudiced information.”
“We are looking forward to a jury trial to present the truth,” Weiner said.
Weiner has a matter of days to file an appeal to Buckley’s decision regarding the felony counts. Nutting indicated a desire to go that route.
Assistant District Attorney James Clinchard said he would not issue any comment about the case.
Nutting, who has characterized the case as a political vendetta against him by El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson, entered a not guilty plea in a South Lake Tahoe courtroom Sept. 20.
Visiting Judge Timothy S. Buckley, a retired Kings County Superior Court and state appellate judge who set Nutting’s case for trial, will hear the case. Buckley was appointed after three El Dorado County judges either recused themselves or were dismissed by defense motions due to their personal relationships with the supervisor.
The trial will take place in Placerville slated to begin Feb. 4, 2014.
To win the DA will have to get over a high bar called 'intent.' The DA will have to prove that it was not simply some common clerical errors as Nutting claims, but an elaborate scheme in which Nutting intended to hide his involvement with the fire fuel reduction program. The DA will have to prove what was in Nutting's mind, and he will have to do it, "beyond a reasonable doubt."