Posted by: rbbadger | December 23, 2008

Motion to Suppress

The defense attorneys made a motion to suppress all of the evidence obtained in the search warrant in the matter regarding Vincent Romero.  His Honour has indicated that he’s not ruling on anything substantive until the psychiatric reports come back.  He did, however, grant the defense’s motion for two outside experts which the state will be paying for.  While County Attorneys and District Attorneys often have great means at their disposal, generally the defendant must pay for his or her own experts.  If they can’t afford them, then the state can appoint them and thus finance the entire defense and the entire prosecution.  As to whether or not the child will be let out for Christmas, that is uncertain, given that any rulings and any petitions in the matter are all under seal.  So, I suppose that the media will have to camp outside of the Juvenile Dentention Facility.

The reason for the motion to suppress is that the Justice of the Peace, the Honourable Butch Gunnells, knew both Vincent Romero and his son accused of murdering him.  Thus, the defense argues that he could not act as an impartial magistrate.  In an earlier time in our nation’s history, this probably would not have been a problem.  But now especially, you have to have every “i” dotted and every “t” crossed.

The deputy county attorney assigned this case isn’t going to be able to prosecute this case for much longer, owing to the fact that he’s been elected County Attorney of neighbouring Navajo County.  The County Attorney for Apache County was voted out, so the incoming one will have a case which nobody in their right minds would ever want.  So, basically everyone’s left hanging (so to speak) until after Christmas.  Depending on what the psychiatrists find, the whole case could be thrown out anyways.  If the the Honourable Judge finds that the magistrate was indeed biased or a conflict of interest was involved, the whole thing could be thrown out.  Without the evidence, the County Attorney could not prosecute and the case most likely never would be.  The Presiding Judge of Apache County has recused herself from this matter, owing to the fact that she knows the family, I assume.   It is very difficult being a small town judge, owing to the fact that everybody knows everybody and if heaven forbid, you get a case like this, the defense can very easily claim that you’re biased and the Court of Appeals or Arizona Supreme Court might agree with them.

Uniquely, Arizona has both elected and appointed judges.  Judge Roca is a judge pro tempore of the Apache County Superior Court.  Unlike Judge Grimsley, he was not elected to the position.  Rather, he was appointed by the Arizona Supreme Court and his term expires every year.  Upon the recommendation of the presiding judge, the Supremes could vote to either renew or not renew him for another year.  Judges of Maricopa and Pima Counties are not elected, but are appointed by the Supremes.  However, they are voted on every four years.

Additionally, our system of County Attorneys is somewhat unique.  Unlike in most other states, an Arizona County Attorney has many other duties above and beyond what regular district attorneys have.  In addition to prosecuting cases, they are the chief counsel for the county in civil matters.  They can file lawsuits on behalf of the county or defend against the county.  A County Attorney is the county’s in-house counsel for just about everything.



  1. Well, that’s interesting. kind of a bummer that they have to wait some more. I’m glad I am not the county attorney. 🙂

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