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Did judges view memorial for police?

An attorney representing Maurice Clemmons' half brother wants to know which Pierce County Superior Court judges attended or watched on television the public memorial service honoring four Lakewood police officers Clemmons gunned down in November.

Philip Thornton said Thursday the information might help him decide whether to ask that the case against his client, Rickey Hinton, be heard by a judge outside the county.

There could be concerns about “the appearance of fairness” should a judge who saw the Dec. 8 memorial at the Tacoma Dome be assigned to preside over the case, said Thornton.

He has asked Presiding Judge Bryan Chushcoff for information about which of the county’s 21 judges saw the memorial.

“We’re trying to determine whether this bench can hear these matters at all,” Thornton told Judge Vicki Hogan during a pre-trial hearing for Hinton.

He and five other people are charged with helping Clemmons after he shot Sgt. Mark Renninger, 39; and officers Tina Griswold, 40; Greg Richards, 42, and Ronald Owens, 37, at a Parkland coffee shop Nov. 29.

Prosecuting Attorney Mark Lindquist said outside court that whether a judge viewed the memorial was “utterly irrelevant.”

“Judges are aware of what goes on in the community. They should be aware of what goes on in the community,” said Lindquist, adding that the county’s judges are capable of remaining objective when hearing a case.

Thornton’s comments came during a hearing in which prosecutors added more counts against two of six people charged with helping Clemmons, 37, after he attacked the Lakewood officers.

Eddie Lee Davis, 20, and Douglas Edward Davis, 22 – thought to be brothers or cousins – originally were charged with one count each of first-degree rendering criminal assistance.

Eddie Davis now is charged with four counts of rendering, three counts of second-degree illegal possession of a firearm and one count of possessing a stolen gun.

Douglas Davis now is charged with four counts of rendering criminal assistance, two counts of first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm and one count of possessing a stolen gun.

Prosecutors contend the two helped Clemmons flee Pierce County after the shooting. He was killed Dec. 1 by a Seattle police officer.

Not guilty pleas were entered on their behalf to the new charges.

Lindquist asked that their bail be increased to $1.5 million apiece, arguing that the likelihood of them fleeing is greater now that they face potentially longer prison sentences – up to 60 years for Eddie Davis and 50 years for Douglas Davis.

Eddie Davis originally was ordered jailed in lieu of $700,000 bail, Douglas Edward Davis on $500,000.

Hogan granted Lindquist’s request after the attorneys representing the pair offered no arguments against it.

Hogan denied Thornton’s request to postpone Thursday’s proceedings until he received an answer about which, if any, judges viewed the memorial. Lawyers for the five other defendants joined in Thornton’s request for a delay.

Hogan then permanently assigned to Judge Stephanie Arend the cases against Hinton, 47; Eddie Davis; Douglas Davis; Letrecia Nelson, 53; Latanya Clemmons, 34, and Quiana Williams, 26.

They all have pleaded not guilty and are being held in jail.

An assistant for Arend declined to say whether the judge had viewed the memorial, saying it would be improper for the judge to talk about cases over which she is presiding.

Attempts to reach Chushcoff for comment were unsuccessful.

Thornton also said he’s made a public records request for e-mails, if any, between the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and the Superior Court judges to see if any communications passed between them regarding bail amounts for Hinton and the others charged with helping Clemmons.

Such communications could suggest a possible conflict of interest and be “alarming,” Thornton said after the hearing.

Lindquist said there are no such e-mails.

It’s possible that support staff members in his office sent routine e-mails to judicial assistants to coordinate schedules, Lindquist said, but such communications wouldn’t prejudice the defendants’ right to a fair trial.

Adam Lynn: 253-597-8644

adam.lynn@thenewstribune.com

blog.thenewstribune.com/crime

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