Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Captain's favorite avoids the plank

Mark Towner, a frequent commenter and author of the Captain's Spyglass, must be dissipointed to learn that the man who sued him all the way to the Utah Supreme Court dodged unrelated criminal charges today.
"I want to emphasize that this is not a verdict of innocence. The defendant is simply not guilty of the crime charged," said Judge L.G. "Buz" Cutler.
Cutler's ruling came after more than four hours of prosecution testimony concerning a criminal trespass charge at GOP headquarters lodged against Ridgway in March 2007. The judge ruled before hearing the testimony of any defense witnesses.
Ridgway had tried to crash an executive committee meeting of Salt Lake County's Republican Party - with a wheelchaired veteran in tow. He was ejected from the building, which serves as headquarters of the state GOP, and arrested. He spent five days in jail. "We've traditionally always had our meetings open," County GOP Chairman James Evans testified. He said he had discretion to close executive committee meetings if someone did or could cause a disruption.
Ridgway, who ran for the party's U.S. Senate nomination in 2006 against Orrin Hatch and was a former central committee member, had already incurred an injunction that forbade him from coming within 20 feet of party activist Mark Towner and his family.
Interestingly, the article fails to include the fact that Ridgway has already served 5 days in jail on the charge. Nor did the article mention that justice court verdicts are not binding at all. Either side can seek a de novo review [basically, you start from scratch] at the District Court level on most matters. Of course, more often than not, people don't bother to "appeal" because of the trivality of outcome--a fine or none, less than a year jail time or none, drug testing or none, etc.

On a more fundamental level however, I have never gotten what Ridgway thought he was accomplishing by all of his various antics. Was the point to embarrass the Utah Republican Party establishment? To endear himself to Utah Democrats? To make some sort of a political or legal statement? If so, what was his statement? Since it is pretty unclear, I think it is safe to say if that was his goal, he didn't accomplish it. Also, I think even he would admit he now has zero chance of ever being a Republican nominee for any office in Utah or to getting any appointed position either. Maybe he is one of those people that gets a rise out of annoying others. Frankly, I don't get it.

Gadflies are supposed to a martyr for a cause other than self promotion of said martyr. This has been true since the days of Socrates. In any event, the whole Ridgway drama has been entertaining to watch as a political junkie, although I am sure it was not nearly as fun for the Towner family. Hopefully this is the last we will ever hear of Mr. Ridgway. I am currious to see what Mark has to say about the whole thing.


Unknown said...

Some time ago, I asked Mike what he wanted from the "leadership" (and from various lawsuits).

If my memory serves me right, he wanted the Republican "leadership" to give him a formal and public apology in some sort of forum (televised?) where everyone would know how correct and rightous he was. Then, the "leadership" would resign from their positions.

I am paraphrasing a bit, but that is what I got out of that conversation.

I believe Mike will continue to tilt at windmills under the false belief that he will get his "justice".

Mark E. Towner said...

David and Tom,

There be windmills a tiltin with the Ridgway Brothers. David you are right about Justice Courts. They are not courts of record (of any kind). Testimony, proceedings, and the Judge's ruling cannot be verified after the fact. There are other charges pending, and if they go forward they will be filed in 3rd district court. Read the comments in the Tribune from the Ridgway Kool-Aid drinkers. However one legal question was raised concerning Towner v. Ridgway that I'm really not sure if I'm correct. Read the comments on page 4-5.

Another funny thing I overheard was that Mike Ridgway's name or any story involving him will ever see a drop of Ink on paper from Joe Cannon's DNews. Sounds plausible.

Mark E. Towner said...

WEll so much for my previous comment about DNews.

S.L. GOP member has charges dismissed
By Leigh Dethman
Deseret News
Published: Friday, July 11, 2008 12:09 a.m. MDT
A judge said he doesn't understand why a Salt Lake Republican doesn't just divorce his party.

Mike Ridgway has butted heads with GOP leadership for years, culminating in a court hearing Wednesday to face criminal trespassing charges for an incident in March 2007, when party leaders called police to remove him from party headquarters property.

Salt Lake City Justice Court Judge L.G. Cutler dismissed the charges Wednesday, saying the city didn't prove Ridgway knowingly trespassed on a party executive committee meeting. Ridgway was sent to jail for five days for violating a protective order, stalking and criminal trespass.

But the judge was quick to point out the dysfunctional marriage between the Republican Ridgway and his party, saying the party was like a spouse wanting a divorce and Ridgway the annoying spouse refusing to move out.

"If these guys want to get a divorce, then I encourage you to get divorced, because we are wasting a lot of time asking hyper-intensive questions," Cutler said at the tail end of Wednesday's hearing.

GOP bosses call Ridgway a nuisance, and they have passed resolutions barring him from party meetings.

During the hearing, several GOP leaders complained of threats, rude behavior and bad manners exhibited by Ridgway. County Party Chairman James Evans even said he refuses to talk to Ridgway, a county Republican.
"I just make it a practice not to communicate with him," Evans said.

Party leadership has tried to officially halt all interaction with Ridgway in the past.

The state party tried to ban him from political meetings and the convention, but instead it allowed him to go only with hired security specifically assigned to tail Ridgway, said Jeff Hartley, the former executive director of the state Republican Party. And the county party passed a resolution in 2007 barring Ridgway from holding any leadership positions in the party.

Ridgway's attorney, Liz Hunt, said the party is out to get him since he has multiple Republican political enemies.

"The government's witnesses are using everything they have to shut him down politically," Hunt said.

Although the judge said Ridgway did not break the criminal trespass law, he did not condone Ridgway's actions.

"I am not saying, Mr. Ridgway, that somehow you have conducted yourself appropriately," Cutler said. "I am not saying that somehow you have a constitutional right, a legal right to act the way you do.

"I would encourage the parties, specifically you, Mr. Ridgway, to decide the reason why you conduct your affairs in the way you conduct your affairs. It may not be a crime — but it's not an effective way to present your position on the things you believe important."

Mike Ridgway said...

Tom Clay, a defector from the fair elections activists in the Utah Republican Party is a liar, as is Mark Towner. I never made any such statement to Mr. Clay.

Mark E. Towner said...

"assimilated", how appropriate coming from Mike Ridgway. I will now refer to Mr. Ridgway as the "ass". Just another example of the typical "ass" attack against Republican Tom Clay, who for years was one of Mike Ridgways most ardent supporters. You know that famous quote "An Army of One", well "ass" you are getting pretty close to being that "One" LOL