Stating that no “reasonable person” would have felt threatened by city Councilmember Pat Robison’s remark that she wanted to put fellow councilmember, Jolene Gardner, “under the table,” Assistant District Attorney James Beecher made a motion on behalf of the state to dismiss Gardner’s assault complaint against Robison at an arraignment held last Tuesday.
Robison’s comment was made at a joint meeting of the White Pine Historical Railroad Foundation Board of Trustees and the White Pine Historical Railroad Foundation Management Board last July.
Beecher said that the DA’s office had reviewed the case “quite extensively” and that an assault in Nevada has to be either an attempted battery or putting someone in reasonable apprehension of bodily harm. He said that subjectively, the victim would have to feel fear or apprehension, and objectively, a reasonable person, under those circumstances, would also feel fear.
Beecher said he focused on the objective element, noting the state had to prove both elements beyond a reasonable doubt if they were going to pursue charges and prove the charges.
“When reviewing the audio and video and officer’s report, it just didn’t meet those elements,” Beecher told the court. “No reasonable person would have felt threatened in that situation.”
Beecher said the DA’s office also had to balance 1st Amendment rights and the nature of government meetings.
“They will get heated and we can’t go pursuing charges against everybody that gets offended in those meetings,” he said.
He cited a case he said “barely” met the elements of assault when a person told another at a public meeting he was going to shoot him and then opened his jacket to expose a gun. Beecher said the gun was never pointed but by opening the coat pocket and revealing a gun, that would make a reasonable person apprehensive.
“In this case we have no movement,” Beecher said. “We have a couple of comments that really, their meaning is so much less clear than I’m going to shoot you. One is, ‘I will put her down,’ and then, ‘I will put her under the table.’ I don’t even know what that means, your honor, and if I don’t know what that means, then I cannot in good conscience come in here and argue to the court that a reasonable person would have been fearful, in that situation, with imminent bodily harm.”
Beecher said given the circumstances, especially at a city council meeting, that Robison’s comments never came close to being an assault and that the state could not prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.
“It’s the view of the district attorneys office and this prosecutor, that it would be unethical to even pursue this in trial,” he said. “With all those reasonings, the state moves to dismiss, your honor.”
Judge Mike Kalleres of Ely Municipal Court, then ordered the case dismissed.
Robison said she was glad to put all the drama behind her, noting it was just an attempt by Gardner to publicly discredit her.
“I’m sorry it had to go this far and that such limited resources and tax dollars had to be wasted over such foolishness,” Robison said. “I’m thankful to the judge and the District Attorney’s office for seeing this for what it was and their reasonable actions in dismissing this case.”
Gardner, who was reached later in the day and knew nothing of the case’s conclusion, said she had no comment.