Attorney General wants state Supreme Court to intervene in Healea case
JEFFERSON CITY —
The assistant attorney general serving as the special prosecutor in Shayne Healea's case has requested the Supreme Court intervene after an appellate court issued an opinion disqualifying the attorney general's office from the case.
Healea first sought the intervention of a higher court in his case currently pending in Shelby County after Judge Frederick Tucker made a set of decisions in regards to Healea's claim his constitutional rights had been violated after his arrest in Columbia in 2014.
The alleged violation of Healea's rights centers around a video recording of Healea on the phone with his attorney as he was held in a jail cell at the Columbia Police Department. The attorney general's office has acknowledged it was in possession of the recording for more than two years. The Eastern District Court of Appeals issued an opinion in June, disqualifying the office as the special prosecutor on the case. The appellate court also called for a hearing on purging the police department's servers of the video.
In its request to transfer the case to the state Supreme Court, the attorney general's office maintained prosecutors never watched the recording despite being in possession of it for more than two years.
Assistant Attorney General Gregory Goodwin raised concerns about the disqualification of the entire office from the prosecution of an elected official.
"Healea's status as an elected prosecuting attorney complicates [Tucker's] ability to appoint a new special prosecutor to handle this case," wrote Goodwin. Goodwin noted Missouri has prohibited private prosecutors. Healea, who is currently the Moniteau County prosecutor, was the president elect of the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys at the time of his arrest, which, Goodwin wrote, would be another complication in the appointing of a special prosecutor. "Given the close professional association between this defendant and the office of every other potential special prosecutor in the state, the Court of Appeals decision to disqualify the entire Attorney General's Office and its order to appoint a new special prosecutor, present [Tucker] with the complex and daunting task of locating a different conflict-free prosecutor for this case," wrote Goodwin.
Goodwin further noted in the event Healea is convicted, disqualifying the attorney general's office may complicate the ability to identify lawyers to handle appeals.
The attorney general's office has suggested an ethical screen if the office remains as the special prosecutor on the case. Goodwin wrote in the application the office would be willing to impose the screen by prohibiting discussion of the case and by appointing only prosecutors who had no involvement with the case while the recording was in possession.
Goodwin was still awaiting a response to the application for the case to transfer to the Supreme Court Friday, according to online court records. Documents show he applied for the transfer July 28.