Walworth County Judge David Reddy denies two motions accusing sheriff's office deputies of intimidation

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Andrea Anderson
Thursday, April 17, 2014

ELKHORN—A Walworth County judge denied two motions relating to accusations that Walworth County deputies and officials intentionally intimidated a jury and infringed on a Sugar Creek man's right to a fair trial.

Judge David Reddy filed a written decision Wednesday after a March 27 motion hearing where defense attorney Anthony Cotton accused county officials of an “orchestrated effort” to intimidate the jury and infringe on his client's rights.

The trial ended in a mistrial Sept. 13 after the jury was unable to reach a verdict.

In November, Cotton and his client, Daniel White, filed a motion for dismissal and a motion for a change in venue to a non-adjacent county for the new trial.

White, of Sugar Creek, was on trial for resisting an officer, battery to law enforcement officers, failure to comply and disorderly conduct in a September 2012 incident. He claims he is the victim of police brutality.

Cotton claims members of the sheriff's office engaged in actions “calculated” to intimidate the jury and witnesses during White's trial to achieve a mistrial.

At the motion hearing, Deputy District Attorney Joshua Grube said the prosecution had no reason to shoot for a mistrial, as the defense alleged, because it was confident in its case.

The accusations that the sheriff's office infringed on the defendant's right to a fair trial and intimidated witnesses and jurors “are completely without merit,” according to a brief filed by Grube.

White's attorney for the September trial, Donna Kuchler, testified in March about her experience.

She said at one point the sheriff, undersheriff, captains and lieutenants entered the courtroom at the same time. She also said deputies were “packing” the courtroom and giving “grim” looks to jurors and herself when leaving the courthouse.

At the motion hearing, Grube said if deputies were in the courtroom and courthouses, they were doing their jobs or supporting the fellow deputy who was reportedly injured by White in the 2012 incident. 

The lawyers and defendant also accused the deputies of using a dog to search the exterior of vehicles belonging to Kuchler, White and White's wife without searching other vehicles in the parking lot outside the courthouse. This also was intimidation, the defense said.

In his decision, Reddy wrote that Kuchler argued the intimidation of the defense was to get a guilty verdict, not an acquittal, but that “no facts have been alleged which support the proposition that the prosecutor believed an acquittal was likely to happen.”

In one of Cotton's motions, two jurors signed affidavits saying they feared the deputies and that White couldn't have a fair trial in Walworth County.

Affidavits were ruled hearsay by Judge David Reddy at the motion hearing and not admissible as evidence.

Walworth County District Attorney Daniel Necci, who was prosecutor during the September trial, also was accused of intimidation by the defense.

One of the motions accuses Necci of calling the attorney for Erika Alvaro, a woman suspected of having an affair with White, requesting her appearance during the trial.

Alvaro is being prosecuted by Necci for an unrelated offense, according to the motion.

Necci wanted Alvaro in the courtroom to intimidate White and his wife and in return would cut a deal with her, according to Kuchler's affidavit.

During the motion hearing, it was established Alvaro left after part of the first day of trial. Reddy wrote that her absence during the remainder of the trail was reason enough to disregard the defense's claim.

Reddy denied the motion for a change in venue to a non-adjacent county because the defense “fails to cite any authority which supports his claim” that White would not have a fair trial in Walworth County.

White is scheduled for a seven-day jury trial to start Sept. 29 at the Walworth County Judicial Center.

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