There won’t be a second trial for a former state trooper on state charges of illegally detaining a couple on their way to an abortion, but he could still face federal charges and a lawsuit, lawyers said Friday.
“It’s guarded jubilation at this stage,” said Thomas Olmstead, a lawyer for Lane W. Jackstadt. “We’re happy that that decision was made, of course, but there’s still some decisions to be made before we pop any corks.”
A mistrial was declared May 11 after a King County Superior Court jury wound up in a deadlock, 10-2 for acquittal on two felony charges of unlawful imprisonment and 6-6 on two misdemeanor charges of official misconduct.
“I … believe there is no reasonable likelihood a retrial would substantially change the original verdicts,” wrote Gregory P. Canova, the assistant state attorney general who argued the case.
Jackstadt, 34, a self-described Christian who opposes abortion, stopped Justin Cooper, 20, and Deanna Thomas, 18, for speeding July 27 in the suburbs east of Seattle.
Cooper and Thomas said that when Jackstadt learned they were on their way to an abortion, he forced them to accompany him to an anti-abortion counseling service run by his church. The couple obtained an abortion the next day.
Canova’s decision not to seek further criminal proceedings was supported by Franklin L. Shoichet, the young couple’s lawyer, who said he discussed the case with them for 2 hours Thursday night.
“We had sort of come to the same conclusion,” Shoichet said. “My clients have sufficient doubts that the truth would come out that they question the value of doing this again.”
Olmstead said lawyers in the U.S. attorney’s office indicated they had not decided whether to charge Jackstadt with violating the couple’s civil rights.
In a letter to Canova on Friday, Shoichet indicated the couple might file a civil rights lawsuit against Jackstadt and others in state or U.S. District Court.
Shoichet requested “full disclosure of all information in your possession or control which may be of assistance to Deanna and Justin in deciding whether civil redress should be pursued. Because of the rules of the criminal discovery process, Mr. Jackstadt’s lawyers now possess significantly more information than the victims’ representatives about the State Patrol’s investigation of this incident.”
In a telephone interview, Shoichet said potential defendants could include anyone in the patrol who “either obstructed or delayed the investigation or failed to supervise him properly.”
Five members of the patrol were disciplined for “delaying or somehow getting in the way of this investigation,” and Thomas and Cooper are entitled to the details of that internal probe, he said.
Shoichet cited especially the loss of a videotape of the traffic stop, which was made automatically by a camera installed in Jackstadt’s car as part of an experiment.Had a patrol sergeant taken seriously a report filed shortly after the incident by a Planned Parenthood staffer who talked to the couple, the tape might have been saved rather than recorded over or lost, the lawyer said.
Five complaints against Jackstadt during his patrol career were sustained, and others were filed but not sustained, he said.
Jackstadt was fired from the patrol last fall after superior officers ruled that he had cheated on a promotional exam by taping the questions. An arbitrator’s ruling on his appeal is expected in about three weeks.
Even if he is reinstated, Olmstead said, Jackstadt could face disciplinary action over the stop, and the potential penalties “could include refiring.”