In his letter last week about David Van Doozer’s case, Bob McFaul rightly asked, “What changed?” How could a grand jury have indicted over something that the criminal jury rejected in 50 minutes? How could a civil jury have then found Van Doozer a victim of malicious prosecution by his accusers, Larry and Judy Willis? Some of the answers follow.
The District Attorney presented this matter to the grand jury. She has a regular practice of having the chief investigating police officer testify before the grand jury when seeking an indictment. In this case, no police officer testified to the grand jury; only the Willises.
The investigating officers of the Willises’ complaint against David were then-Undersheriff Steve Rogers and then-Sheriff Fred Steen. After their investigation, they each always believed that no crime had been committed. They explained that the scene did not look like criminal mischief case scenes typically look, with smashed-in walls and broken glass.
Instead, Sheriff Rogers observed that it looked like someone had just removed from the bakery the things, which the bakery’s first owner had added at his own expense. As a result, Judge Russell West held at the civil trial that the Willises lacked probable cause to have pursued a criminal case against David. Judge West also noted that David had only removed from the bakery items he was allowed to remove.
Why did the DA pursue a case against David that she lacked probable cause to pursue? Well, for the civil jury to hold the Willises responsible for maliciously prosecuting David, that jury had to conclude that the Willises lied to the police or DA, intentionally omitted key facts from what they told the police or DA or exercised undue influence over the DA in getting her to pursue a case that should never have been pursued.
With evidence of the Willises having done all these things, and also evidence that they had committed perjury at the criminal trial and committed insurance fraud in their property damage claim, why did the DA testify at the civil trial in favor of the Willises? Was it their continuing undue influence over her?
So, what changed? The DA could keep Rogers and Steen away from the grand jury but not from the criminal and civil juries. And the criminal and civil juries each subjected the Willises’ testimony to careful scrutiny, while the DA apparently never has.
As for Lori Schaafsma’s concerns, everyone should know two things: If you tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth to the police and the DA, the law protects you, just as it should; and that duty of truth applies to business and property owners just as much as it applies to employees and renters, just as it should.
Kiss represented David Van Doozer at his civil trial.