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Judge rules in Sanders' case

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DUI will not be dismissed

By Linda Ireland

The special judge handling the DUI case of LaRue County Schools Superintendent Samuel D. Sanders has ruled against three motions brought by his attorney.
The case will not be dismissed – the dash camera footage will not be suppressed – and Sanders’ statements on the night of his arrest will be admissible in court.
Last month, Doug Hubbard, Sanders’ attorney, asked for the case to be dismissed due to the release by police of a dash cam video of the traffic stop. Several Louisville television stations broadcast the footage of Sanders taking a field sobriety test on March 29. Police said he was driving a school-owned vehicle when he was pulled over by a Hodgenville officer. His wife, DeeAnn, also was shown on the video. She was not charged.
Police Chief Steve Johnson testified he permitted TV news crews to record the footage at the police station upon their request. He said he was unaware that providing the video was a violation of law – but he knew there were penalties for Open Records violations.
Johnson said he took the footage from Officer James Richardson’s cruiser after Sanders’ arrest.
Hubbard’s motion stated the release of the dash cam “violated the law, subjected the defendant and his wife to undue humiliation and requires those who released the tape to be criminally prosecuted for their actions.”
He stated further: “We believe that the crime committed by those who released this tape is worse than the crime of which Mr. Sanders is charged, and in fairness, that the Commonwealth should not be permitted to introduce that tape at trial.”
Special Judge Lisa P. Jones disagreed. She wrote in a ruling:
“The defendant argues that because the release of the tape was unlawful and that such release constitutes a Class A misdemeanor while his DUI is only a Class B misdemeanor, that fairness dictates a dismissal of the less serious charge against him in light of the more serious offense he claims was committed by the chief of police. The argument is preposterous.”
Jones wrote there is “no provision for such a remedy in the statutes and no precedent for such a remedy in case law, nor does the defendant make any claim that the tape is inadmissible under the Kentucky Rules of Evidence.”
The viewing of the tape “will not automatically disqualify a potential juror,” she wrote. “The remedy to address the possibility of a ‘poisoned jury pool’ – a much more serious concern than defendant’s embarrassment – is to (question) the jury to see whether any jurors have viewed the tape and such viewing has caused them to prejudge the case, or to request a change of venue.”
Hubbard asked also for statements allegedly made by Sanders to officers be suppressed – or disallowed – because Sanders was not made aware of his rights (mirandized).
Judge Jones overruled the motion, saying no evidence was provided that suggested an improper interrogation prior to Sanders’ arrest.
A new court date has not been set in Sanders’ case.
Sanders’ case file includes a petition that appears to have been signed by about 170 residents, asking a grand jury to “investigate all evidence, rules of law, procedures and phone records (etc.) pertaining to county and city officials involved in the DUI and arrest of Sam Sanders.”