Hummel Revokes Probation
After a lengthy status hearing on Clair Philip Dawson Jr., 25, of RD 2, Box 181B, New Martinsville, Judge David W. Hummel Jr. revoked his probation and deferred his sentencing to a later date.
Dawson was before Judge Hummel due to his arrest on March 9, 2009, in which a home search at Dawson’s residence found 270 grams of marijuana in six different bags, marijuana seeds, $400 in cash, two pipes, plastic baggies, and two scales.
During the hearing, Dawson’s attorney, Kevin Neiswonger asked Adult Probation Officer John Lantz how he became aware of a need to search Dawson’s residence.
Lantz replied that he got a call from the Wetzel County Sheriff’s Department about information regarding an individual that got marijuana from Dawson. Lantz then met with officers from the department and they drove to the residence to do a search.
Neiswonger asked about a search warrant, Lantz replied, “I don’t need one.” He reminded the court that Dawson signed his probation papers that outlined the requirements, rules, and regulations of his probation.
Deputy Rob Scott of the Wetzel County Sheriff’s Department was called to the stand. He read from his report of what was found at Dawson’s home and told the courtroom that the marijuana was sent to the crime lab and the report came back positive.
Prosecutor Tim Haught asked Scott to report the facts leading up to the event in which Dawson was arrested.
Deputy Scott recounted that he got a call of a domestic dispute and while at that residence he noticed the suspect had just smoked marijuana. Scott asked where he purchases it and Dawson was named. Scott continued by telling the courtroom that he called Lantz to report this since Dawson was on probation.
Haught asked if he knows who is on probation and Scott replied that his department gets a monthly report from Lantz. “You were following procedure then?” asked Haught. Scott replied, “Yes.”
Haught brought up the informant, including the information he gave Deputy Scott. Haught reminded the courtroom no deals were made by Officer Scott.
Scott told the courtroom, “I did say I wold not arrest him if he told me where he got it (marijuana). It was a misdemeanor, it was less than 15 grams he had on him.”
“Did you threaten him?” asked Haught.
Scott replied, “No.”
Scott continued, “He reluctantly gave the information, he said he was afraid of Mr. Dawson, that he had a reputation and that he was afraid his family would be in danger.”
Haught asked Scott why he did not have a search warrant. Scott replied, “Based on our experience with Lantz we didn’t need it.”
Neiswonger told the courtroom and Scott, “You filed a criminal report as false information, you consummated a deal.”
Scott replied, “He asked me to keep his name anonymous.” Neiswonger asked Scott why on his criminal investigation report he put down the informant’s name as confidential. Scott replied, “It was a mistake on my part, I shouldn’t have used it.”
Neiswonger asked Scott if he did not understand the difference between confidential and anonymous. Scott explained to the courtroom he does not do undercover work and that most of his work is “roadside.”
Haught told the courtroom that when he got the criminal investigation report he was provided with the name and he let Neiswonger know of this.
“You were trying to protect this person?” Haught asked.
Scott answered, “Yes.”
Neiswonger stated, “You made him a offer, so you got a name.”
Scott told the courtroom that this informant told him he had gotten marijuana on several other occasions from Dawson. He also reported that this person had in the last two weeks had direct threats from people that know Dawson. “He has received phone calls to keep his mouth shut about Dawson,” said Scott.
Dawson was then placed on the witness stand and reported that Probation Officer Lantz told him the last time he reported in his office, that it would be his last time to check in and that he had passed all of his urine drug tests.
Neiswonger brought up the home search and asked Dawson to tell the courtroom what happened that day. Dawson explained that Officer Rob Scott knocked on the door and told him they needed to talk and then he walked in.
Dawson reported that Scott told him, “I need to know where it’s at.” he added, “I didn’t want to talk in front of the children so we went into my bedroom.” He continued explaining that Lantz was doing a search of the home and got in his bedroom dresser drawer and that is when he said he knew, “I was in trouble.”
Haught stated to Dawson, “You signed the probation papers. You knew you would be on probation for three years.” He asked Dawson if he understood that his residence could be searched.
Dawson reported, “Lantz said verbally he would take me off probation.” Haught asked him if he had papers from the court saying he was off probation. Dawson answered, “No.”
Lantz was called back into the courtroom by Haught to the witness stand. Haught pointed out that Dawson had just testified “you would take him off probation.”
Lantz replied that he would have to file for probation to end and go through a judge before releasing a person from probation.
He continued explaining to the courtroom that an officer received information, that evidence was seized in a search, and that this would support a reason to revoke his probation.
Neiswonger told the courtroom that clearly smoke and mirrors were being used in the courtroom. He stated, regarding Officer Scott’s statements, “We’ll cut this guy a deal, I won’t charge you if you tell me where you got it.” He added, “We all know what happened here. The question is what gave the rule making authority to the probation officer.”
Haught reminded those in the courtroom that law enforcement is not required to get a search warrant on every case.
After a three minute break, Hummel returned to the courtroom, telling those present that on September 29, 2007, a plea agreement was entered into which Dawson and the lawyers all signed. He explained that Judge Mark Karl left the terms and conditions of his probation to the probation officer. He further explained about the fourth amendment right of the constitution regarding unreasonable search and seizures and stated that people on probation have a “somewhat tempered right.”
“It’s in black and white he was on probation,” he stated, adding that marijuana was found in his residence. “His probation is revoked,” stated Hummel. He reported he would defer his sentencing for a later date.