Real life court proceedings are almost never as exciting or interesting as the fictional cases on TV and in the movies.
The lawyers normally aren’t as good looking or smooth talking, the suspects normally aren’t criminal masterminds and the cases normally aren’t as dramatic.
But sometimes, real court hearings can be stranger than fiction.
That was the case this week in Twin Falls County District Court, when an entire hearing was devoted to whether prosecutors could use the word ass—— in an upcoming trial.
According to prosecutors, that’s what Michael Anthony Loya called Twin Falls Police Officer Justin Cyr after Loya punched Cyr and the two men fought last November.
Loya, 26, of Twin Falls is set for a March trial on felony counts of assault or battery on certain personnel and possession of a controlled substance.
“Yea, he’s an ass—— anyway,” Loya said of Cyr after the fight. “He worked for county back in the day.”
Deputy Prosecutor Suzanne Craig argued during Monday’s pretrial conference that Loya’s statement will be important to help prosecutors prove Loya knew Cyr from when the officer was a deputy working at the county jail. And proving Loya knew Cyr from the jail will help the state prove he knew Cyr was a law enforcement officer when he punched him.
“The state’s argument is, we believe the defendant’s statements should be provided to the jury,” Craig said. “We have to prove that the defendant knew the officer was an officer at the time this took place … and we believe the defendant’s comments regarding the officer and his knowledge of the officer for having been in custody previously … are items the jury should learn about.”
Normally, a defendant’s criminal history is off-limits during a jury trial to avoid creating a negative bias. But Judge Richard Bevan ordered that Loya’s stints at the jail can be mentioned so prosecutors can try to prove Loya knew Cyr was an officer.
“The court will allow that the defendant knew the officer from jail, as long as the state doesn’t overemphasize that,” Bevan ruled.
But Ben Andersen, Loya’s court-appointed public defender, successfully argued his client’s use of the word ass—— to describe Cyr should be suppressed.
“The defendant has just been in a chaotic fight with Officer Cyr,” Andersen said. “Harsh words were exchanged at the end of that fight … that could explain his calling the officer a name. I’m a little concerned jurors will hold that against him.”
Craig countered that Loya’s use of the word will show he knew Cyr well enough to form an opinion about him, or maybe could show why Loya fought Cyr to begin with.
“The court will support the ass—— objection,” Bevan ruled. “Though it likely has relevance, at this point I’ll deny it and sustain the objection of that term alone.”
Bevan added that if the trial is heard by another judge — which is likely because of a scheduling conflict — he’ll allow Craig to argue to the new judge the ability to use the word.
Loya’s trial is set for 8:30 a.m. March 9. It’s open to the public, but if you show up, don’t expect the drama you see on TV or to hear the word ass——.