Stewart's newest lawyer files another motion against seizure

Apr 5 2012 - 7:13am

OGDEN -- Matthew David Stewart's newest lawyer has filed another motion challenging the prosecution's seizure of the home of the police shooting suspect.

Emily Swenson's first motion, filed last week, rankled both the prosecution and one of Stewart's public defenders. Prosecutors said it was the latest bid by Stewart's defense team to depict the prosecution as skirting the law.

Public defender Ryan Bushell described Swenson's motions as frustrating and muddying the public's understanding.

"Attorneys know the difference between civil law and criminal law," Bushell said. "But I've had a lot of people who aren't attorneys asking me about it, why we're not doing that for him (contesting the forfeiture), and it's because we're working our butts off trying to save his life."

Stewart faces the death penalty in a Jan. 4 shooting at his home that left one officer dead. Five other officers and Stewart were wounded. Stewart is alleged to have opened fire on the Weber-Morgan Narcotics Strike Force serving a search warrant at his now-seized home at 3268 Jackson Ave. Officer Jared Francom was killed.

Swenson's motions are part of a civil process, scheduled before a different judge from the one hearing the criminal case, Bushell said, and the two are unrelated.

After filing her first motion last week challenging the seizure of the home, Swenson commented, "Somebody has to look out for Stewart's constitutional rights."

That upset Bushell. "I addressed my concerns with her," he said.

Commenting on the new motion, he said, "She can go fight her battles all she wants as long as she doesn't make statements that reflect on what Bill and Randy and I are doing," referring to Stewart's other criminal attorneys, Bill Albright, another public defender, and Randy Richards, hired by Stewart's family.

Swenson's new motion claims new irregularities in the serving of the forfeiture notice on Stewart. The first motion claimed the seizure notice was not served by the right person under the law and that proper paperwork was not included.

The latest motion claims the officer who served the notice was doubly disqualified from doing so because he was a strike force member, therefore a party in the case and not the proper person to be serving the notice. And it notes the papers missing initially were subsequently filed late.

Weber County Attorney Dee Smith has said that

Swenson is not citing the correct statute, while his office is -- all a question for a judge to decide. Swenson filed the motions after conferring with Richards, but not Bushell and Albright. She could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

"It's a mess when other attorneys enter without telling everyone what's going on," Bushell said.

He noted that a number of attorneys have contacted him, Albright and Richards to offer assistance.

"Essentially we've told them we'd call them when we need then," he said.

Smith has expressed frustration in the past with Richards, his former law partner, filing motions that imply the prosecutor's office is ignoring defense discovery requests, even holding a news conference on the subject at one point to lash out at Richards' tactics.

A preliminary hearing on the criminal charges against Stewart is set for July 18-20 before 2nd District Judge Noel Hyde. The forfeiture action is pending, so far without date, before 2nd District Judge Mark DeCaria.

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