September 12, 2007 in Idaho

Prosecutor’s son gets jail time

By and The Spokesman-Review
 
Kathy Plonka photo

Jeremy Douglas, son of Kootenai County Prosecutor Bill Douglas, was sentenced Tuesday to 136 days in jail for a probation violation.
(Full-size photo)

The son of Kootenai County Prosecutor Bill Douglas was sent to jail Tuesday for violating terms of his probation for prior convictions.

As his parents sat in the front row of a Kootenai County courtroom, 24-year-old Jeremy Douglas admitted to a May 2007 incident in which he pulled a gun on another man, then beat the man in the head with the firearm.

Douglas has previous convictions on drug-related charges and had appeared before Magistrate Eugene Marano in the past for violating probation.

Marano ordered Jeremy Douglas to serve 136 days in the Kootenai County Jail, with work release, for the violation addressed in court Tuesday. After Marano ordered Jeremy Douglas back to jail Tuesday, Douglas’ mother criticized the judge for being hard on her son. Geri Douglas said she feels Marano is tougher on her son than others who come before him because his father is the prosecutor – and because of the judge’s alleged animosity toward Bill Douglas.

“(Jeremy) has suffered more and harder punishment than anyone in the city because of who Bill is,” Geri Douglas said. “By no means does he get any special treatment.”

Marano previously sentenced Douglas to two consecutive four-year terms of probation, for a total of eight years, Geri Douglas said. District Judge Fred Gibler later overruled Marano and gave Jeremy Douglas four years probation.

Following Tuesday’s court hearing, Marano said the sentence of 136 days was agreed upon by Jeremy Douglas, his attorneys from the public defender’s office and Coeur d’Alene City Prosecutor Wes Somerton, whose office prosecuted the probation violation case.

Marano noted that Jeremy Douglas testified that he believed he should serve the time.

“I don’t know what Mrs. Douglas’ problem is, but she obviously is operating without any factual basis for what she says,” Marano said. “I treated him no differently than I treat any other defendant.”

As for his personal feelings toward the prosecutor, Marano declined to comment.

Bill Douglas once criticized Marano in an e-mail he sent on his county computer to former employee Marina Kalani. “Neither I nor many others trust Marano as far as I can spit,” Douglas wrote Kalani on March 3, 2005. “I have to assume he has an agenda of some type.”

Bill Douglas did not return a call seeking comment Tuesday.

Also on Tuesday, The Spokesman-Review filed a lawsuit against the county seeking access to any e-mails Bill Douglas may have sent to the Kootenai County Public Defender’s Office, which represents his son, or the Post Falls and Coeur d’Alene city prosecutors who have handled Jeremy Douglas’ cases. The newspaper also sought e-mails Douglas may have sent to the misdemeanor probation department.

Both the Post Falls and Coeur d’Alene city prosecutors’ offices said they had not received any e-mails from Bill Douglas regarding his son’s case.

Attorneys for Kootenai County denied a request the newspaper made for e-mails Bill Douglas may have exchanged with the public defender’s office after the office invoked attorney-client privilege.

Jeremy Douglas was arrested on May 20 after Post Falls Police responded to a fight at a Post Falls apartment where he was staying with a girlfriend. According to police reports, the woman’s boyfriend, Ronald Butts, came to the apartment to confront Douglas – who is married with children – about the relationship between Douglas and his girlfriend. Butts said Jeremy Douglas pointed a gun at him and then struck him repeatedly in the head.

The woman’s 4-year-old child, who later tested positive for methamphetamine, was present during the altercation and was taken into protective custody, according to police reports. Butts was arrested for hitting Jeremy Douglas with part of a chair broken in the scuffle.

Jeremy Douglas was arrested on felony charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Post Falls City Prosecutor Joel Ryan reduced the charge to misdemeanor disturbing the peace.

Chief Deputy Prosecutor Marty Raap said his office asked Ryan to handle the case because Jeremy Douglas is the prosecutor’s son.

“The ethical guidelines are you have to avoid even the appearance of impropriety,” Raap said.

Raap said he wasn’t aware of any contact Bill Douglas may have had with others involved in his son’s case.

Geri Douglas said her husband may have communicated with the public defender’s office regarding their son’s case.

She said Marano never should have been involved in the case.

“It’s hard for Bill to take what Marano does to us,” she said.

Jeremy Douglas’ wife, Dare, said the judge once sent him to jail when she was in the midst of a high-risk pregnancy. She said her friends have committed crimes and violated terms of their probation and not received nearly the punishment Marano doled out to her husband.

In court Tuesday, Marano said he had told Jeremy Douglas in the past that “he best bring his toothbrush” if he appeared before the judge again.

“I became convinced he had changed his life,” Marano said. “Apparently he hasn’t.”

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