A judge in Denver has taken an unusual step and scheduled a hearing to find out why the District Attorney has not taken out criminal charges against a sheriff for a courtroom assault before the statute of limitations expire.
A September 2012 video shows a sheriff assaulting Anthony Waller in a Denver courtroom. Waller who was handcuffed and wearing leg irons was slammed into a window in the courtroom. This appears to be an unprovoked attack. Waller claims his teeth were broken and he sustained a head injury. Yet criminal charges were never filed against the officer. He has filed a civil rights lawsuits.
Now the statute of limitations is set to expire without charges being filed. The statute of limitations governs how long the government or the prosecutor has Should the statute of limitations expire without charges being filed the officer can never be charged with for the assault. Typically statute of limitations for an assault and battery case is three years. The statute of limitations vary from state to state and are different for different charges. Crimes like murder have no statute of limitations, meaning they could be charged decades after the incident.
District attorney’s have discretion, meaning they can pick and choose who they want to charge. The discretion prosecutors have is a part of their job. It should never be abused but it necessary.
Although the sheriff should be charged in my opinion the judge is over stepping his authority. Judges are not the people that charge a person. The are supposed to be fair and neutral. They must judge the evidence that is presented to them rather than seek evidence. Judges, district attorneys and criminal defense lawyers all play a specific role in the criminal process and here the judge should not be playing a role.
Patrick Donovan is a Massachusetts criminal attorney and a former assistant district attorney in Massachusetts.