Hook reporter subpoenaed in Silva, Austin cases

In the October 11 edition of the Hook, Courteney Stuart reported on an incident that occurred at the corner of Water Street and Second Street SE in which a Charlottesville police officer may have used excessive force in a misdemeanor arrest of a young couple headed for the parking garage after a night out. Now, Stuart has been subpoenaed as a witness in the public swearing and intoxication trials of Richard Silva and his fiancée, Blair Austin (who has also been slapped with a charge of obstructing justice without force) which starts this morning at 10:35am. But just where was Stuart on the night of September 28?

"I was at home with my kids," she says. "I have no firsthand account of the incident."

So why was Stuart subpoenaed? Though Charlottesville police served Stuart her papers on Thursday, November 8, the answer did not come until this morning with a call from City Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Katherine Peters. "She would need to be available in case any of the defendants or witnesses make a statement different than the one they already gave to Ms. Stuart," says the prosecuting attorney.

Hook editor Hawes Spencer is befuddled. "If a reporter has to go to court everytime they write a story to say that they wrote it, that would be a waste of time and it seems like a waste of court resources," he says.

12:22 update: A "material witness" for the prosecution couldn't show up in Charlottesville General District Court because he's on dialysis and had "a meeting this morning about a transplant," Peters told substitute judge Jannene Shannon. Austin's attorney, David Heilberg, who produced five witnesses of his own today, says that this sort of rescheduling is not par for the course. "It's procedurally unusual," he says. "It seems like the Commonwealth is overreacting on minor charges the same day they've got a capital murder case."

As for Stuart, she has filed a motion in General District Court to be dismissed as a witness, thus allowing her to continue covering the story. She has a hearing scheduled for Monday, November 19 at 9am.

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13 comments

I think newspapers are self-authenticating documents under evidence rules, so the newspaper itself should be good enough, unless they're concerned that the statements were not reported accurately (hmm, I wonder where they get that idea?) and could be attacked. it's kind of weird, tho, considering that the statements were in the main favorable to the defense.

but, generally, I think it's bad practice to subpoena reporters, especially in a case like this--not exactly a high priority to stick it to these guys, I shouldn't think... it's not as if an acquittal would result in a crime wave! but, I do think it's well that the commonwealth pursues its DIP cases against drunk middle-class folks as vigorously as it does against poor folks...

Dialysis and transplant meetings are scheduled well in advance, most dialysis patients know their timetable for the forseeable future.

This is a stunt by the prosecution.

Also, why haven't Silva or Austin sworn out warrants to arrest the cop?

Probably just an attempt to discourage Courtenay from reporting on further stories that might have a negative impact upon the police department. They'll teach her! :)

I think that the net effect may be that reporters will pay greater attention to the veracity of what they report and they way they report it. The media has gotten to be quite sloppy in that arena during the past ten years or so. I question if that many people were at that intersection at that time of night to withess that much. By the way, did that person in California come back to testify on behalf of the civilians as the story said was promised? It would be intersting to know what that person could actually testify to.

Jackson, who's going to write the warrant against the officer? I'l give you $1,000 if you find any local judge or magistrate who will write the warrant. :)

Pick up a police scanner that will work with the new emergency services radio system (Radio Shack Pro 96 handheld or Pro 2096 desk model) and you will find he's (CP 97) right out there working as normal. The city can't fire him for this event. It would be the same as admitting fault and assuring Alston/Silva a rather large civil judgment most likely.

Perhaps it's time to call for Tim Longo's resignation?

No, it's not time for Longo's resignation. Every time there's a new police chief there is a substantial loss of personnel and the City is having a hard enough time hiring officers as it is.

The defencdants don't look as good as the police.

At the November 5 City Council meeting public comment this matter was brought to the attention of council by Downing Smith of 810 Locust Ave. Mr. Smith called for public transparency and police integrity. This is a 2 acre property on Locust plus he owns several other properties in town, one of which is 807 St. Clair Ave. (The home where Jayne McGowan was murdered).

Its almost surreal that he made this comment just a few days before McGowans murder.

Council did not even thank Mr. Smith or comment on the matter. The mayor did respond to some public comments. I recal he said the city should pay for his (the mayor's) trip to France because he could not otherwise afford to go since he has to close his chiropractic office and blah blah blah.

Shame on you hook for that photo of Courteney; she is much more attractive then that.

Looks like the city doesn't want to have to eat any humble pie on this one.

I hope they end up not only eating it but choking a little bit.. on the front page of the Washington Post.

This crap sucks.

I can't recall when I've been madder than when I read the story about that incident at the crosswalk. I want to see that cop fired, convicted of assault and slapped with a huge civil judgment. Charlottesville's cops are better than this piece of trash. He's an embarrassment to the uniform.

Big deal, Courtney is in court all day, every day, anyway.