Wednesday, October 17, 2012

T.F. prosecutor gets police DUI case

State declines to suspend Mike Crawford’s driver’s license


Michael J. Crawford

Twin Falls County Prosecuting Attorney Grant Loebs has been assigned as special prosecutor in a Blaine County DUI case against Sun Valley Assistant Police Chief Michael Crawford.

The assignment, approved by Magistrate Judge Jason Walker, came at the request of Fredrick Allington, prosecuting attorney for the city of Hailey, where Crawford was cited for alleged DUI after he backed into a vehicle on Main Street on Aug. 11. In the motion for appointment of Loebs, Allington cited a conflict of interest on his part.

Walker is magistrate judge in Camas County but often presides over cases in Blaine County because of its much larger caseload. He was assigned to the case after Blaine County Magistrate Judge R. Ted Israel earlier disqualified himself from the Crawford case, stating his reason in a court order as due to “a longstanding knowledge about the background and circumstances of the defendant.”

In an interview, Loebs said he will likely assign prosecution of the Crawford case to one of his deputy prosecutors rather than handle the case himself.

He said his office accepted the appointment because “obviously [Allington has] a conflict of interest and so does the prosecutor in Blaine County, so we try to help out other jurisdictions when we can.”

“That’s the whole point—to bring someone in who doesn’t know the parties and can’t tip the scales one way or the other,” Loebs said.

In another development, the Idaho Transportation Department in September declined to suspend Crawford’s driver’s license after Ketchum attorney Brian Elkins provided evidence to a hearing officer that a Hailey police officer violated police protocol in administering a blood-alcohol test for Crawford.

After being charged with DUI, Crawford was issued a “notice of suspension” regarding his driver’s license on Aug. 13 and advising him that his license would be suspended 30 days from that date. However, the suspension was “vacated” by ITD Administrative Hearing Examiner Eric G. Moody on Sept. 12 following a telephonic evidentiary hearing in the case on Sept. 6.

During the hearing, Elkins provided evidence that Hailey Patrolmen Jeremiah Jones failed to have Crawford under complete surveillance for at least 15 minutes prior to administering a breath blood-alcohol test. The 15-minute delay is standard Idaho police procedure to prevent anything, such as drinking, eating, smoking or burping, happening during that time that could affect the outcome of the test.

In his findings, Moody wrote that he was vacating Crawford’s license suspension because violation of the procedure made the test results invalid.

Elkins is also using the procedure violation claim in a motion he has filed to suppress the blood-alcohol level evidence in the court case. Also in his motion, Elkins claims that a “simulator solution” used in the breath test instrument was past its expiration date, further invalidating the test.

In a probable-cause affidavit, Jones reported that the Crawford test showed a blood-alcohol level of  .178, more than double the Idaho legal level for driving of .08.

Crawford has pleaded not guilty to the charge, but no trial date has been set. Neither has an evidentiary hearing been scheduled to hear Elkins’ motion to suppress.

Crawford meanwhile, remains on active duty. He was suspended from the Sun Valley Police Department with pay on Aug. 20 but reinstated on Sept. 11.

Crawford, 53, has served with Sun Valley police since 1991 and has been assistant police chief for 10 years.

Terry Smith: tsmith@mtexpress.com

 




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