Judge dismisses two cases because of excessive delaysSixth District Court Judge Robert Macaulay dismissed two different criminal cases in Carlton County Court Tuesday “with prejudice” because the county attorney’s office had repeatedly failed to provide discovery [evidence] to defense attorney Terri Port Wright.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
Sixth District Court Judge Robert Macaulay dismissed two different criminal cases in Carlton County Court Tuesday regarding Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MSOP) client Sarprio B.B. Doranti “with prejudice” because the county attorney’s office had repeatedly failed to provide discovery [evidence] to defense attorney Terri Port Wright. When a case is dismissed “with prejudice,” it generally means that prosecutors cannot file any new charges regarding the allegations.
Although Doranti was originally scheduled for jury trial on a number of different charges Tuesday morning, the trials were not held and Macaulay heard arguments on Port Wright’s motion to dismiss two of the cases, one which had dragged on since October 2009, the other since February 2010.
According to the criminal complaint on the February 2010 charges – which included felony terroristic threats as well as misdemeanor damage to property, misdemeanor indecent exposure and misdemeanor dangerous weapons ¬– on Feb. 17, 2010, Doranti was a patient in the high security unit of the MSOP-Moose Lake facility when staff observed him damaging the walls by scraping them and rubbing ink and feces on them. He allegedly had at least two metal shanks, which he had sharpened to a point (which appeared to be made out of metal from an eyeglasses case and a nail clipper). He proceeded to make numerous threats of harm toward any nearby security staff. The complaint also states that when two female staff members tried to reason with him, he threatened to kill one and blow up her home and exposed himself to the other, while masturbating.
According to court officials, Macaulay granted the motion to dismiss all of the above charges as well as the October 2009 charge of felony terroristic threats “for failure to comply with the court rules and Judge Wolf’s order for discovery set in December.”
According to Port Wright, she had asked the county attorney’s office for discovery multiple times since she began representing MSOP clients in late summer of 2010.
“Some of these cases are 28 months old. We were in court on omnibus cases eight times on some,” Port Wright said after the hearing, indicating that the failure of the prosecution to share the evidence with the defense was partly to blame for the delays. “Then Judge Wolf set a drop-dead deadline of Dec. 21 for turning evidence over and there was still nothing.”
James Ross argued the case for the county attorney’s office Tuesday, although the cases were originally handled by Dennis Genereau Jr., who left the county attorney’s office in October to take a position as county coordinator. Within two months of Generau’s leaving, another long-time assistant county attorney, Nichole Carter, also resigned, leaving the county attorney’s office seriously understaffed. Although Carlton County Commissioners authorized County Attorney Thom Pertler to hire one new assistant county attorney, that process is ongoing.
Neither Ross nor Pertler was available for comment on the Doranti cases as the Pine Journal went to press.