Usually, it is normal for a highway patrol officer to appear in a courtroom in the aftermath of making an arrest. Even if the individual is a former officer, they would be present to testify as a witness in a driving-under-the-influence case. However, there is no normalcy for former Utah Highway Patrol Cpl. Lisa Steed as she appeared Monday in a Salt Lake City justice courtroom, wearing a black pantsuit and not the brown and gray uniform of a Utah Highway Patrol officer.
Also, attorneys were more interested in talking about Steed than the defendant who was accused of DUI. This is now the life of Lisa Steed as the FBI is investigating her for civil rights violations that stems from two judges earlier this year concluded she had lied on the witness stand as well as a 2010 memo emerging that suggests Steed was falsifying arrest reports.
A DUI trial has become anything but routine on Monday, as attorney’s arguments from both sides forced Judge L.G. Cutler to postpone the obscure trial and schedule a hearing for February 25th. The reason for the postponement is based on how reliable a witness former UHP officer Lisa Steed is based on accusations of lying on the witness stand as well as falsifying arrest reports.
Monday’s case featured defendant Bernice B. Martinez, who is 53-years-old. She was arrested by Steed on July 11, 2010, based on suspicion of DUI. The defendant was charged with one count of driving with a significant amount of a controlled substance found in her bloodstream as well as three other misdemeanor traffic violations.
On Sunday, defense attorney Jesse Nix said he was ready to argue that the case should be dismissed. Nix says that the amount of drugs reported in Martinez’s body were not enough to cause impairment and that any testimony given by Steed is unreliable.
Nix is apparently upset that the case is proceeding and decided to send emails to reporters Sunday in order to inform them of the case. Defense attorney Lacey Singleton on Monday told the judge that the case should be dismissed as the 2010 memo was exculpatory and that prosecutors did not provide it to the defense. The memo was reported by the Salt Lake Tribune in October.
Also, Singleton suggested the possibility that the UHP and prosecutors have other evidence that Steed did falsely arrest more suspects. Singleton said, “We may have knowledge of some of the things that are out there. We have no way of knowing everything that’s out there.”
According to prosecutor Steve Newton, the defense filed their dismissal motion too late as well as providing them with everything they had. Newton also said that it was the UHP that withheld the memo.
Meanwhile, the FBI has been talking to potential witnesses regarding the allegations made about Steel. In early November, FOX 13 NEWS in Salt Lake City reported that attorney Michael Studebaker had four clients wanting to file lawsuits against the former officer. Each client wanted their records expunged, each person to receive $250,000 and for Steed to be stripped of her awards.
Presently, Studebaker has said he now has 10 clients who have talked to the FBI but have not been asked yet to speak to a grand jury. Studebaker said that, “They’re still at an early stage of any investigation.” Greg Skordas, Steed’s attorney, said he was unaware of any type of investigation by the FBI. Skordas also has described her transgressions as being minor and not criminal.
Steed is in the process of contesting being fired by the UHP, which occurred earlier this month. Her attorney released a statement saying, “We respect the commissioner for the fairness he has shown us, but disagree termination is the appropriate sanction for the alleged conduct.”
Julie Tapia is one of Studebaker’s clients who have spoken to the FBI. Tapia has said that though she had not been using drugs or drinking, Steed still arrested her for driving under the influence. Tapia, as a result of the arrest, was forced to leave her daughter that is confined to a wheelchair home alone. Tapia is one of the many plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit filed against the UHP that plaintiff attorneys are trying to make into a class action.
Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Lisa Steed Under Investigation
Trooper Steed under investigation.
Retired Utah Highway Patrol trooper discusses problems in UHP
Martin Turner III was a trooper for 34 years. He felt honored to serve Utah and says the majority of Utah Highway Patrol troopers are upstanding, but administrators showed favoritism and allowed Cpl. Lisa Steed to go unchecked even while she was submitting inaccurate arrest reports.
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