Friday, September 26, 2008

Judge Issues A Gag Order in Sheley Case

A little birdy called to let me know that a hearing had been scheduled for accused spree killer, Nicholas Sheley at 2:30 today (Wednesday). Thank you little birdy, I really appreciate the call.

When I arrived at the courthouse, I was informed that the hearing had been moved up to 3:00, then 3:15. I go over some of my notes while waiting....during the arraignment on August 6, Ninth Circuit Judge James Stewart admonished the attorneys for both sides regarding the rules of judicial conduct forbidding counsel from making statements about the case.....he didn't address Sheley that day so that will probably happen today. Everyone is here from both sides but they are in a room off of the courtroom. Must be one of those "secret" meetings that Sheley complained about in his interview. Whatever.

Everyone took their places and Nicholas Sheley was brought in. He looked pretty much the same as he had last hearing, his hair was a little longer and whatever he put on it to make it spike up makes it look darker. Do they allow gel in jail? It was actually 3:45 before the hearing got started.

Judge James Stewart calls court to order and Public Defender James Harrell addresses the court. He says there are some housekeeping that needs done. First, Harrell would like the court to make an official finding that He and Jeremy Karlin are the counsel of record, the issue had been raised but not put on record at the last hearing. Judge Stewart says something like Oh,... you actually want me to say it? Then he says they are counsel of record until a fitness hearing is completed. LOL This judge has a wry sense of humor it appears, at times it's just the way he says something, not what he says. Nothing inappropriate so far...LOL I like that in a judge.

The defense has filed an emergency motion seeking to stop pre-trial publicity. In light of Sheley's interviews this emergency motion hearing was called.

Assistant Attorney General Michael Atterberry addressed the court. He said, " Both parties want to maintain fairness and integrity of the proceedings." He added that Sheley giving interviews in the past 24 hours has threatened the proceedings. Judge Stewart asked, "Is this a stipulation between prosecution and defense?" and "Is there a time frame?" Atterberry says through the trial.

Judge Stewart told the court he would approve the stipulation until the fitness evaluation is done. The defense are duly authorized and once Sheley is determined to be fit the stipulation will be revisited. He went on to say that Mr. Sheley has a constitutional right to speak. The judge called the current situation a " no mans land". The issue is a clash of constitutional rights. Sheley is entitled to a speedy trial. There is freedom of the press, a right to counsel, a right to a fair trial, a right to remain silent or to wave that right. Stewart also said, "It is the courts duty to determine which right was most burdened at the expense of others."

Judge Stewart also commented that there is no guidance from the Supreme Court on this issue and reiterated that the order will remain in effect until a fitness hearing is conducted. If Sheley is found to be competent to stand trial the order will be lifted and Sheley will be able to make statements to anyone he wishes. Stewart said, " He has a constitutional right to free speech."

Harrell says that since the court is entering an order he will withdraw the emergency motion from the court file . Judge Stewart recognizes this is all done. Micheal Atterberry requests that court admonish the defendant regarding the order. Stewart then tells Sheley that he is issuing a gag order that prohibits communication with the media from all parties and instructs Sheriff David Clague that Sheley should have no visitors without the presence of counsel. Clague agrees.

The next hearing scheduled is for Friday, September 26, at 10a.m.

Sheley is facing 17 counts in connection with the bludgeoning death of Ronald Randall,65, of Galesburg. If convicted he will face the death penalty. He is also charged with the deaths of 5 people in Whiteside County, IL and the deaths of an Arkansas couple killed while visiting in Missouri.

Galesburg Register-Mail

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  1. Gosh, It's just so hard to believe this guy. And that the trail is in the burg.

  2. anon 9:24PM -
    Thanks for commenting. The local police think Sheley was in Galesburg for only an hour or so. Thank goodness Ronald Randall's truck had OnStar. The OnStar and the evidence in the truck may prove crucial to this case and the case in Missouri.