It happened yesterday, Tuesday, November 6, 2012. I witnessed what was, in my opinion, a travesty and unequivocal miscarriage of justice that was perpetrated, not only upon my friend Lee Skinner, but upon the people of Colorado. It took place in Longmont, Colorado, in Boulder County Court overseen by Judge Karolyn Moore.
My wife, Lori Huff, had been called as a potential witness for the defense. I simply decided to go along to provide moral support. As a witness, Lori was not allowed inside the Court and had to sit outside in the waiting area. With little more to do than sit around and twiddle my thumbs, I elected to go in the court and observe justice in action. Was I ever mistaken . . .
Lee Skinner, my neighbor and good friend, had been fined $200 by Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW) for allegedly allowing his dog to chase a mule deer buck. The charge had been brought about as the result of his neighbor, a Mr. Hall, contacting Boulder County Animal Control who in turn contacted CPW. Mr. Hall, in an email to the CPW District Wildlife Manager, wrote that he had observed Lee’s dog harassing wildlife.
My friend, believing the charge to be unjust, decided the best way to clear his name was to challenge it in court.
The following notes reflect my observations of testimony given by the prosecution, the defense, and the Judge’s decision . . .
It’s important to keep in mind that Lee was ticketed for allowing his dog to harass wildlife. Either his dog harassed the mule deer and he was guilty as charged, or it did not harass the deer and the charges should have been dropped.
Based on testimony, another dog very similar in color and build to Lee’s dog, roams free in the area. This other dog, owned by one of Lee’s neighbors, happens to be the mother of Lee’s dog.
Several issues were presented by both sides, some relevant, some not. However, what is important is that Mr. Hall was presented a number of photographs, along with a video, depicting Lee’s dog and the almost identical neighbor’s dog. Basically, Mr. Hall was unable to identify either dog in the pictures. Not only that, Mr. Hall’s eye-witness accounts of the circumstances surrounding the incident were, in my opinion, questionable.
When asked by the defense, “Did you see Mr. Skinner’s dog chase the mule deer?”
Mr. Hall replied, “No.” In fact, he went on to describe that the dog in question actually went in the opposite direction from the deer and where it was headed.
Judge Karolyn Moore, in her ruling against Lee Skinner, addressed several issues touched upon during the trial. Not one of them were relevant as to whether or not the dog in question actually belonged to my friend, or for that matter even harassed the mule deer.
During the trial, no evidence was ever presented that the dog in question chased or harassed the mule deer. More importantly, no evidence was ever presented that the dog in question actually belonged to Lee Skinner.
In my opinion, this trial had more to do about Colorado Parks & Wildlife winning, than it did with justice being served.