Sharon Crozier guest writes today's article.
The Ellen Murphy trial took an unexpected turn today, (Thursday, March 15) when the judge in the case devoted a major part of a Motion hearing to talk of changing the charges brought against Murphy. Four days before her jury trial. Municipal Court Judge Deborah Lev declined to discuss the only item noted and briefed for the day—prosecution’s Motion in Limine requesting that Murphy not be permitted to use Constitutional arguments in her defense.
Most of the discussion on changing the charges against Murphy was between Lev and Joseph Pemberton, Murphy’s attorney. Lev’s arguments for the reasonableness of allowing charges to be changed four days before the jury trial was that circumstances may have changed. She pointed out that several prosecution witnesses were apparently willing to modify their earlier statements.
Lev pointed out that Pemberton had known about the request to change charges and that Pemberton should have been prepared to argue the matter. “You knew it was coming,” she said. Pemberton said he had thought about it but it was not noted on the day’s agenda and he had not thought it necessary to brief it.
Pemberton insisted that the late-breaking change to the original charges should be backed up with affidavits, witnesses or some other clear evidence before the charges were changed to fit the direction that the prosecution prefers. Lev argued for the change, however, and only Pemberton’s repeated insistence that the Prosecution should be required to present some sort of evidence in support slowed the momentum. In the end, the charges were not changed, but may be addressed in a later Motions hearing.
Meanwhile, a 29-page Motion to Quash the subpoena for Rep. Rick Larsen to appear at the jury trial will also be addressed at that hearing, with the House of Representatives legal counsel possibly participating via teleconference.
Lev was reluctant to allow any mention of Murphy’s subsequent re-arrest as being relevant. Pemberton explained that the two incidents were related in that they, together, may show bias. If Lev later grants prosecution’s Motion ruling out a Constitutional defense, that point may be disallowed.
Lev was also disinclined to extend the jury trial, saying that it had been delayed for two months already. Pemberton said that during that entire period he had been preparing for trial, nothing had been noted, but he has received 60 pages of Motions in the last week.
Future court dates include a March 26 hearing on all Motions, an April 2 Readiness hearing, a status hearing on April 16, and the jury trial on April 17.
Ed note: The jury trial of Ellen Murphy scheduled for Tuesday, March 20, was rescheduled to April 17.