There is another twist in the DWI case of JeffCo Judge Nathan Stewart that again suggests that finding justice will be an uphill battle.
When legally-savvy individuals get caught drunk driving, they generally refuse to take a Breathalyzer test. While this means an automatic one year suspension of one’s drivers license, it prevents the police from collecting incriminating evidence of intoxication. Plus, the license revocation can be challenged in court. And as JeffCo prosecutor Forrest Wegge admitted in a 2009 article, he likes to drop these cases, which are filed by the violator against the state Department of Revenue (DOR).
Apparently, Stewart refused to blow, because right now he has a case in Jefferson County Court, challenging his license revocation. Judge Brenda Stacey, a Republican who was elected to the bench in 2014, is hearing the initial motions in the case.
Now, I see no reason on God’s green earth why Stacey would agree to hear a case involving her fellow Jefferson County judge. It gives a total appearance of conflict of interest and impartiality. But here we are.
Stacey granted a stay in the case, which means that Stewart gets to keep his license while this challenge is being heard. As I glance through other DOR cases in the county, it seems that granting an immediate stay doesn’t happen all the time, but it is common. But it is what Stacey did next that is bizarre and questionable.
As you can see in Casenet, she put a security level 4 on the case. A level 4 is for Juvenile, Mental Health, and Drug Abuse Information cases in which a certain level of privacy is necessary. The level 4 restricts who can see the case information, and such a case would not appear on Casenet.While alcohol abuse cases can fall under level 4, I have seen lots of DOR cases on Casenet, which means they didn’t get a level 4. It does not seem at all appropriate here. This looks like nothing but an attempt to shield a colleague from public scrutiny.
But apparently Stacey had a change of heart, because the next day the Level 4 was rescinded:
Stewart Chooses Lawyer
I wondered in my previous post which JeffCo lawyer buddy Stewart would use to defend him in court. I knew it wouldn’t be his major backer, Bob Sweeney, because you don’t use him if you want to actually win your case (plus I don’t know if he does many DWI cases). No, Stewart chose Michael Lowry, who himself escaped from a DWI through cronyism in Festus in 2004.
Silence of the Leader
In another attempt to hide this case from the public eye, the Leader chose not to run a story about the Stewart crash in its December 8 edition. While the paper often has articles about automobile crashes and arrests, this case somehow did not meet the paper’s news threshold. Maaaaaaybe next week? We’ll see.