Defendants respond to prosecutors with opposing motion

Published 8:18 pm Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The defendants in the case surrounding an incident at BikeFest 2012 have filed an opposing motion in response to a motion made by prosecutors in the United States District Court in Albany last month.

The government’s motion, filed Aug. 27, was for a protective order for an extension of time to provide discovery.

In essence, the motion was designed to prevent any witness harassment and media influence during the remainder of the proceedings involving defendants Elizabeth Croley, Christopher Kines, Robert Umbach and Wiley Griffin, IV.

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The defendants note the “burden of proof is on the party seeking the protection order to demonstrate good cause for its issuance,” according to the motion. They continue by arguing there is no “good cause” in the government’s motion to warrant a passing.

The government’s motion cited the reason for a protective order is because the government had learned a Decatur County official, uninvolved in the litigation, had attempted to reach out to government witnesses.

“Speculation that a witness may be ‘harassed’ is simply not grounds for issuing a protective order,” the defendants’ motion reads. “The (government’s motion) must be denied, as the government has failed, as a threshold matter, to establish its witnesses would, in the absence of a protective order, be subject to realistic, appreciable risk of physical or economic harm.”

The defendants further argue the government is off base in filing a motion to prevent undue media attention, highlighting the fact government prosecutors issued press releases of their own announcing the indictments of the four defendants.

“The proposed protective order would, in this regard, constitute an unconstitutional prior restraint of free speech…,” the defendants’ motion reads, going on to say the limited media coverage of the case has been “largely factual.”

A seven-count indictment was returned to the four defendants July 9 for the deprivation of rights under the color of law, false reporting and tampering with a witness, victim or informant.

The indictment stems from an incident at BikeFest 2012 where the individuals, all Decatur County deputies at the time with the exception of Griffin, IV, who was a Grady County deputy, allegedly beat up Aaron Parrish and tampered with evidence to hide the action.

The hearing for the government’s motion for a protective order will be held Oct. 8 in Albany before U.S. District Judge W. Louis Sands.