Troubling Questions

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The bungled prosecution of Brandon Lee Lewis has raised a host of troubling questions about our courts — and the Payson Police Department.

Superior Court Judge Peter Cahill chastised prosecutors for mishandling the case by failing to either obtain — or disclose vital information. The failure of the Payson Police Department to provide key reports and accurate estimates further compounds the troubling questions raised.

The case goes back to October 2011, when a reportedly intoxicated Lewis ran his car into a retaining wall. Three police officers ultimately showed up and when one officer tried to administer a field sobriety test, Lewis resisted.

Lewis maintains the officers manhandled him, using excessive force. The officers’ reports indicate they used force only to control Lewis.

But the facts of the confrontation between the handcuffed Lewis and the three officers that left him injured and the hood of a squad car dented have taken a back seat to the conduct of the police and prosecutors at the trial.

Prosecutors failed to disclose crucial evidence, either through a deliberate win-at-any-price approach or through a series of mistakes and oversights. Judge Cahill, who has found himself in an increasingly confrontational relationship with Gila County Attorney Bradley Beauchamp and his prosecutors, concluded the errors were so egregious that it hardly mattered whether they were inadvertent. In total, the mistakes and omissions made it impossible to either uphold the guilty verdict or justify a second trial.

Certainly, the list of errors would give any fair-minded person pause. Between Payson Police and prosecutors, the state withheld “use of force” reports and a car repair estimate that constituted the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor. They also failed to disclose past issues concerning testimony by one officer. Even more disturbing are the indications that prosecutors withdrew an offered plea deal after Lewis filed a civil suit against Payson Police. Since plea bargaining settles the vast majority of criminal cases, any manipulation of that system raises grave concerns.

The case crowns a disturbing year in which confrontations, blame-placing and grand-standing have dominated our courtrooms. We hope this case will serve to make all of the officers of the court take a deep breath, do some real soul searching and remember that they must seek justice — not victory — when they go through the doors of that courtroom.

Comments

Pat Randall 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Cahill twists things the way he wants. I'm not sure he ever studied law and should hold the office he does. I think there should be a term limit on judges.

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Mel Mevis 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Really ........

Randall twists things the way he wants.

FYI Judge Cahill graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1970, and the New England School of Law in 1973. He has been practicing law in Gila County since 1975. Next time your not sure just look it up..

Judges are elected to a four year term. If you don't like him vote him out.

Hope you never have to rely on your idea of justice. You would sing a different song if the shoe was on your foot and something similar happened to you.

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Meria Heller 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Protect and serve is out the window in the US. Now it's pure Law ENFORCEMENT. Well, the police should be held to the same standards as the public.

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Maggie Meares 6 months, 1 week ago

I am sure Judge Cahill was very thorough in coming to his decision as he is scrutinized on every decision lately by the GCAO....Front page June 3 paper..."Tougher Sentence This Time" for one case and "Judge Dismisses Case" for another case....so when people dismiss Judge Cahill as not being able to "follow, use or uphold the law" or "not being educated in the law"....that is just silly (to put it nicely)!

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Kim Chittick 6 months, 1 week ago

Oh Maggie, sweetie, I so admire your naivete, "I am sure Judge Cahill was very thorough in coming to his decision...". I wish that I could be so positive in my assertions. My problem? I have been an observer in Cahill's court one too many times to have such faith in his diligence. Oh, well gotta go feed my unicorn...

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Maggie Meares 6 months, 1 week ago

First of all don't call me sweetie, Kim it is very condescending! ....I am an educated woman who has had many law classes...I too have been an observer in the court rooms and I am not getting in a pissing match, with someone such as yourself, who hasn't a clue about this case...I haven't seen you at a single courtroom appearance for Brandon...Sooooo, I suppose you should go feed your "unicorn" because you are obviously on some sort of a "trip"...CHEERS!

This is not about us! This is about someone that was cheated because the cops and prosecutors lied and withheld evidence....I have a copy of that cell phone audio and I will hang on to it and send it out when I feel it is necessary to the news stations in Phoenix....Brian Neumeister worked on Brandon's case and that audio/video from that cell phone....look up his name...he is connected to the Jodi Arias case in the valley. Great work he did on Brandon's case as well.

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Maggie Meares 6 months, 1 week ago

Oh and lets not FORGET the proof that has come up to show that the cops and prosecutors lied and withheld evidence....PROOF...did y'all see that...PROOF that they LIED and WITHHELD EVIDENCE! And following the rule of law and COMMON SENSE.....It is not hard to figure out who was railroaded here!

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Kim Chittick 6 months, 1 week ago

I still maintain my assertion that if one is a law abiding citizen who complies with the requests of Police Officers, one will not end up in court, fighting for ones reputation and freedom.

Good decent law abiding citizens do not allow themselves to end up in a position of being lied about or having evidence withheld in a case against them.

You know...there is a game of theory out there that posits, "if you heard that I was in jail, what would you think I did?" The proper answer for a law abiding citizen should be, "I wouldn't believe it".

Finally, Maggie, no, I have not observed any of Brandon's court appearances as I've other, more altruistic ways of spending my time. I have, however, observed Cahill in action overseeing other cases which I am interested in. He comes across as vague, argumentative. ill-prepared and not cognizant of basic theories of human nature.

Brandon is very fortunate to have such a vehement and passionate supporter as yourself. I do admire your tenacity and dedication.

Now, I am bowing out of this "pissing match", as, again, I have other, of much more interest to me, issues to deal with than Brandon Lewis. Good day and I wish you many blessings.

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