Stupid Prosecution of the Week

Sanity prevailed in Chelsea, Vermont, where public defender Kelly Green was able to convince a prosecutor to drop the charges against her client, Jayna Hutchinson. After an argumentative encounter with Vermont State Police Sgt. Todd Protzman,

she approached Protzman's cruiser, where his dog Max was waiting, putting her face within inches of the window and "staring at him in a taunting/harassing manner," Protzman wrote in an affidavit.

"While the defendant taunted my canine, Max was focused on the defendant and the perceived threat she presented to him," the affidavit said. "He was no longer focused on me and the other officers at the scene."

Hutchinson (who had apparently imbibed a few too many) was charged with cruelty to a police animal. Charges were dropped shortly before trial after the prosecutor watched a videotape that offered no support for Protzman's claim that Max "perceived" a "threat," or was even disturbed by the staring match. A resisting charge, premised on the claim that Hutchinson "pulled her arms and upper body away during the arrest," was also tanked.

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    Were there other charges? (none / 0) (#1)
    by JSN on Wed Jun 06, 2007 at 08:14:36 PM EST
    I have seen jail booking records where it was obvious the officer added every charge they could think no matter how trivial. At over $200 per simple misdemeanor plus court costs and surcharge a long list of charges can add up to a very large fine.

    I would hope in most such situations the county attorney would call in the officer and explain why most of those charges were dismissed.

    In Iowa assault on a police dog or horse is an indictable offense but so far the code is silent about disdainful looks. Now that it is possible to use insects to detect drugs will it become  a crime to assault a police insect? I hope that will be more than the Iowa legislature can stomach.

    About ten or so years ago someone in the UK was arrested for saying meow to a police dog. Some members of Parliament got very hot over that incident and I believe the charge was dismissed.

    LOLFOMCLMAOROTFAIT(am in tears) (none / 0) (#5)
    by squeaky on Wed Jun 06, 2007 at 09:53:05 PM EST
    Now that it is possible to use insects to detect drugs will it become  a crime to assault a police insect?....

    ....someone in the UK was arrested for saying meow to a police dog.....

    The mechanics of power at work. It is like getting a heavy object to float in air and totally defy gravity.

    Hard to keep up.


    Why do some police officers feel the need (none / 0) (#2)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Jun 06, 2007 at 08:15:48 PM EST
    to use and abuse dogs in an attempt to use and abuse people?  It is very puzzling to me as we raise German Shepherds and I have started to show them again in AKC shows.  Here in Enterprise they train police officers for the state of Alabama and they only have to attend a six week school which is also really strange to me too and sort of scary.  They can also have "dings" like family violence on their records that you could never have on your record in Colorado and hope to be a police officer.  Then too, last week I was behind a privately owned blazer that had a big decal on the back window that said POLICE TRAINED K-9.  The guy who got out to put gas in the tank had a T-shirt on that said POLICE.  I still can't figure out why some guy who went to a school for six weeks and has a dog believes he is somehow "more relevant" to everybody elses everyday life sharing the roadways with his vehicle?  Police K-9's in Alabama are not allowed to be trained to attack people or assist in apprehending people, they are only allowed to preform searches.  Is his dog possibly going to illegally search me and he feels that he needs to warn me in advance or something?

    That turd wouln't flush. (none / 0) (#3)
    by Mike Mid City on Wed Jun 06, 2007 at 08:26:29 PM EST
    I used to work in a prison in Connecticut where they had a charge of silent insolence in the old days.  A ticket that could get your butt thrown in the hole, for a "dirty look".

    Long before I got there it, the charge, was dropped.  Heck even in the kangaroo courts they hold in the joint a dirty look is a stretch.  Good for the judge.

    it wasn't the judge, (none / 0) (#4)
    by cpinva on Wed Jun 06, 2007 at 08:54:57 PM EST
    it was the prosecutor who dropped the charges. i also have to wonder how much of the taxpayer's nickel was wasted on this? processing isn't cheap; multiple parties are involved, even when charges are dropped. all those people have to be paid. as well, other resources are being used, that could have been used for other cases, with merit.

    where was this guy's supervisor while all this was going on? aren't these things subject to review, before they get sent to the prosecutor? if not, perhaps they should be.

    I completely concur with JSN and Militarytracy's (none / 0) (#6)
    by Freewill on Wed Jun 06, 2007 at 10:49:27 PM EST
    statements. It has always fascinated me why some Officers "pad the charges". When I first started my career in Corrections it was very common for the more seasoned veteran Officers (or so I thought at the time) to explain to me how to manipulate the charges so that I could ensure an inmate was placed into the segregation unit (prison within a prison).

    Some of this stems from a person's frustration level and how they deal with stressful situations. The more a person perceives that the system isn't working how, in their minds the justice system should work, that type of person starts looking for creative ways to inflict their beliefs in justice. This is kind of a human nature flaw in some people. It knows no gender, race, age, religious beliefs, it exists across the whole spectrum of human nature in those who work in maintaining the law.

    Also, in many cases it is "Peer Influenced Pressure" to demonstrate how effective one is as an Officer. The more convictions one racks up on the "offenders" the more they demonstrate to their supervisors how effective they are at doing their jobs. Working in law enforcement type jobs you are not only measured and evaluated by your supervisors but most importantly you are being judged by your peers. The same peers whom supposedly "Got your back" when you are in trouble. If your peers perceive you as weak, corrupted, or soft they will ostracize that type of Officer and will let that type of person self-destruct (as they believe they would). Many times a complete department's attitude is dictated by those who talk the loudest, talk extremely tough, and seem to care less for anything except for what they believe is "Justice".

    What is truly amazing about the mob mentality influence that infects many law enforcement individuals is that those who talk the toughest and loudest are in many cases the ones who are not to be found when the crapola hits the fans. I guess those types have insecurities and try to hide them by being the Super Cop who writes bogus tickets, gets into the most use of forces, or belittles other Officers on how they might have better handled the situation if only they were present.

    On the other hand, if the supposed criminals perceive one as being soft, weak, or corrupt the criminal mind will try to influence those types of people. Law enforcement officials have to walk a very fine line and maintain their balance. If you are too tough it's bad and if you're to lax it's bad. Law enforecment officials have to not only perform this balancing act in public but they have to perform this act in their minds every second of the day.

    Our whole law enforcement system is extremely stressful on all individuals who work in these types of environments and it takes continuous education, individuals who can accept criticism from others and most importantly are able to criticize themselves. Education is career long because for the 16 years I've worked in this type of environment I can honestly say every day I witness or participate in something I have never encountered before and every day is a test on how well I can think and perform on my feet.

    Sgt. Todd Protzman could of had a bad day and therefore he wanted to extract some sort of justice to make the day right in his mind. Sgt. Protzman could be the type who is influenced by his peers and this sort of behavior is accepted by his peers, or Sgt. Protzman truly believes that staring at his dog is really a threat to his dog's safety. Who knows? I only hope that Sgt. Protzman learns from his actions and the next time a similar situation occurs he handles the situation better.

    As for Jayna Hutchinson, it's a shame she had to endure what she did but I also hope she learns a very valuable lesson out of this situation. Don't play with law enforcement officers, they are under huge amounts of stress and the last thing they need is someone complicating a situation. If you play with fire you are going to get burned!