St. George City: Arbiter of justice or henchmen for powers unseen?In what can now be famously attributed to the late Christopher Hitchens as “Hitchens’ Razor,” the statement, “What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence,” seems to be an assertion that needs no explanation. Unless, that is, you are the St. George City Attorney’s Office.

Where to begin?

You may be familiar with the recent bootstrapping of Dixie State University Professor Varlo Davenport.

Davenport was terminated without reasonable cause and without any semblance of due process. Adding to his troubles is the city of St. George, which has—at the beckoning of a student’s parents, they reportedly claim—brought criminal assault charges against the professor.

Setting aside for a minute here the obligatory acquiescence that he has not proven his innocence yet (you read that right) and the possibility that he may be convicted, I thought it prudent to share with the good citizens of St. George a few curious developments.

First are the phone call and visit to the Davenports by St. George City Council members Michele Randall and Gil Almquist. Both will lay claim to some benevolence in their reasons, but it smacks of conflict of interest and ex parte communication. Randall advised Davenport’s wife that attorney Shawn Guzman told her the city had a good case and that Varlo should consider taking a plea.

But what is more disturbing is the shenanigans the city is engaging in with regards to the chain of evidence in the case.

Davenport’s attorney, Aaron Prisbrey requested all of the documentation compiled in DSU campus police chief Don Reid‘s investigation.

According to statements from Prisbrey, DSU attorney Michael Carter told him that all evidence had been turned over to the city.

However, through some careful observation of emails, Prisbrey ascertained that some of the evidence was missing. When he contacted the city about it, he was told that the city attorneys sent him everything they had.

But what appears to have happened is that the city took from the evidence submitted by Reid what they needed and returned the evidence back to DSU. They claim, with some level of cognitive dissonance, that they have honestly given Prisbrey everything they have in discovery.

Are you following this?

Both DSU and the city are pointing at each other saying they have given all they have, but mysteriously, Davenport’s attorney does not have all of the evidence being used to prosecute his client.

Changing gears a little here, I give you a development in the code enforcement case against the city. This last week in federal court, Prisbrey was apparently granted injunctive relief in the due process claim, and the court has taken his motion to certify the class under advisement.

However, before the hearing on the Aug. 11, the city filed criminal charges against the case’s plaintiff, John Rowley. The charges they filed on Aug. 4 are for non-permitted use in an R-1 zone, a class C misdemeanor, and a home occupation violation, a class B misdemeanor.

From what can be ascertained at present, Rowley may be one of two people ever charged with a criminal offense in code enforcement in St. George.

But what is curious about the charge is it is for alleged offenses almost two years old.

You read that right.

The city is not prevailing in federal court in this case, and it appears they aim to punish Rowley for it.

This, when put in context with the Davenport case, suggests something resembling retaliation for standing up to the leadership of this community, be it the DSU administration or the city attorney’s office.

Curious to note how city councilman Almquist was caught doing the very same things Rowley is now charged with and was not cited or charged with anything. Not one thing.

It is astounding to me that in a community that touts the merits of the constitution how if you use legal terms like “due process” or “discrimination,” the blank looks on their faces implies either a sinister cabal of maniacal megalomaniacs or just plain stupidity.

But there is an irony to behold.

In 2010, the city attorneys got a dose of reality in federal court when they refused to turn over records in a felony case.

The Salt Lake Tribune reported that the city cited to the Government Rights and Access Management Act when it refused to comply with a federal court subpoena. They apparently neither understand GRAMA nor the rules of procedure in federal court. The case was thrown out.

And there is the rub.

If you want a fair trial in St. George, be it from DSU, or from the city itself, you have to drag their asses to federal court, because they are running their own circus down here, and it appears the two work together at it.

See you out there.

CORRECTION: On Monday, August 17th, attorney Aaron Prisbrey stated that the judge did not in fact grant injunctive relief but that he inferred he could grant injunctive relief in this case irrespective of whether he grants the motion to certify the class.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. C I ty attorney Shawn Guzman is such a nice guy,that when the city water line broke,flooding my basement,resulting in the evacuation of a family of 6,and $7,000. In uninsured damages,could only ask me if I had a rental license,which I did and also announced to me that the city had no responsibility!!

  2. Guzman, Esplin, DSU, et al constitute an entrenched power structure in St George. A part-time Mayor and City Council and Board of Trustees are not capable of effective oversight and control. The power structure can operate to further its own ends in what they believe to be the best interests of the city and the school. Their ideas of best interest may differ from the rest of the community but they needn’t care since there is no real dissent except from a few like The Independent and the few willing to go into the courts. And the dissenters and others not willing to toe the line can expect retaliation.

  3. Ditto to all above! We heard in meetings this past week how administration at DSU had tu suffer the Attorney General giving instructions to all employees on due process and freedom of speech. Maybe if they know we’ all watching, the little folks, watching them all the time they’ll learn to respect.

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