From the January 2000 Idaho Observer:

Principle, persistence turning tide in Leas case

We have been covering the Leas child custody case for over a year. In that year we have seen the state and the county persecute the innocent party and make up the rules along the way. We have watched as the county and the state attempt to shut this loving father up by throwing him in prison. We have watched as the tide has slowly but surely turned. It appears that Leas is now on the offensive. If Leas can prevail in this matter, then he will have set a precedent that will be of value to anybody who has been wronged by a government official. Wouldn't it be nice if, in the months to come, we are able to report that justice is being served upon this father from Latah county? We will pay close attention in the months to come.

by Don Harkins

In a move that violates Idaho state law and the canons of judicial conduct, Idaho State Administrative Law Judge Ron Schilling reassigned Judge John Stegner to continue hearing the Leas case after it was discovered that the judge was the first cousin of Leas' accuser probation officer Tom Blewett.

Judge Stegner disqualified himself November 29, 1999, after admitting that Blewett was his first cousin. Judge Stegner sent a letter dated December 3, 1999, to Judge Schilling requesting that the “case be reassigned to me so that I may consider the state's timely Motion for Reconsideration.”

Judge Stegner ultimately recused himself once and for all January 5 after Leas filed an eloquent objection to Stegner's continued presence in the Leas case.

Leas Attorney Steve Mahaffey recently submitted a bill for over $2,000 in hours billable to Latah County for the defense of Leas.

Several property owners in the area have arranged for a special meeting with the Latah County Board of Commissioners January 11 on behalf of Fred Leas. Leas is a provably innocent man who has been persecuted by Latah County for the last five years. The property owners, with media present, are going to ask why the county insists upon wasting tens of thousands of tax dollars in its malicious prosecution of a man guilty only of loving his children.

Leas, 51, has been embroiled in one of the most perverse child custody battles we have ever seen. The Latah County Sheriff's Department, the Latah County Prosecutor Bill Thompson, Judge Stegner, Idaho Legal Aid Attorney Maureen Laflin, Child Protective Services and Child Psychologist Greg Wilson have been persecuting Leas since his now ex-wife the former Ruth Leas left him in 1995 to marry convicted pedophile and known drug dealer Paul Mohr. The Mohrs have committed criminal and heinous acts and blamed the crimes on Leas through the filing of false police reports. The Mohrs apparently want Leas thrown in prison so they could be awarded uncontested custody of Leas' four children: Shane, 17, Scott, 15, Audry, 13 and Hattie, 11.

It appears that Latah County officials have been persecuting Leas to protect an underworld relationship with the Mohrs.

Manufactured Motion for Reconsideration

A Motion for Reconsideration was filed against Leas for probation violations alleged by Blewett. Leas' probation was the result of his 1996 conviction of custodial interference by Judge Stegner. Leas, who loves his children and by all accounts is a loving father and a decent man, rescued his two young girls from the Mohr's sexually perverse and drug saturated environment and took them to South Dakota where he was captured and subsequently sentenced to time served and probation.

In his quest to simply provide a decent home for his girls, Leas has used every legal means at his disposal to expose the corruption that has ruined his family. Apparently concerned that Leas' tenacity may actually publicly illuminate what appears to be a connection between a known drug dealer and certain elected officials, Blewett was called in from Lewiston to become Leas' probation officer. “Blewett has done anything he can to violate me and send me back to jail and shut me up,” said Leas.

Details of Blewett's attempts to violate Leas were published in the August, 1999 edition of The Idaho Observer.

Blewett was able to convince his cousin the judge that Leas was in violation of his probation and that Leas should have his probation revoked and sent to prison to serve out the remainder of his sentence.

Leas has been before the court over 130 times over this matter, most of them before Judge Stegner. Leas has never missed a court date nor has he ever been late. Judge Stegner would likely have sent Leas to prison at the November 29 hearing but, in a cloud of embarrassment, he dismissed himself from the case after he admitted for the record that he was Blewett's cousin.

Judge Stegner's disqualification was an indication that the tide was turning and that a new judge, not beholden to the Mohr's for whatever strange reason would see the case for what it was and allow Leas to gain custody of his pre-teenage girls (Leas has custody of his two teenage boys who refuse to live with their mother and are quite frank about her criminal lifestyle). Judge Stegner's request to be reassigned to the case that Idaho state law forbids him to hear was a shock to those who have been following the Leas case.

Leas attorneys file motions of objection

Leas Attorney Mahaffey filed “DEFENDANT'S OBJECTION TO STATE'S MOTION TO RECONSIDER DISQUALIFICATION; DEFENDANT'S OBJECTION TO RE-ASSIGNMENT OF CASE IN ORDER TO HEAR MOTION TO RECONSIDER," based upon obvious conflicts of law, violations of Idaho Code and violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct.

“Based upon I.C.R. 25 (d), it is error for Judge Schilling to have reassigned this case to Judge Stegner, the same judge,” the motion filed December 21, 1999 states.

The motion then quotes the Code of Judicial Conduct at Canon 3(C) which provides that “judges shall disqualify themselves in instances where the Judge is within the third degree of relationship and to the Judge's knowledge, that person is likely to be a material witness to the proceeding.”

Since such canons are within the legal realm and, thus, open for deliberation ad nauseum by attorneys, there is another Canon at 3(C) that cannot be debated. It is understood that a judge should volunteer to recuse himself if a reasonable person could question a judge's impartiality. It is not likely that even one reasonable person could be found who would not question Judge Stegner's lack of impartiality in matters pertaining to Leas.

“In this case the probation officer is the 'prosecuting authority' in that the probation officer is the witness who is alleging that Defendant has violated his probation. As such, this Court finds itself in the position of either believing the probation officer and entering a finding that Defendant has violated his probation, or believing the Defendant and Defendant's witnesses and finding no probation violation by Defendant. The Court is placed in an unenviable, nay untenable, position, by having to either find in favor of his first cousin, the probation officer, and thereby subjecting Defendant to further punishment, or believing Defendant, and subjecting himself to potential familial persecution for his failure to believe the veracity of his first cousin, the probation officer,” wrote Mahaffey in his objection to Judge Stegner's reassignment.

The Code of Judicial Conduct at Canon 1 states, “An independent and honorable judiciary is indispensable to justice in our society.”

Please see The Idaho Observer, November, 1998 for the background to this father's horror story. This short update cannot possibly do justice to the injustices that the Mohrs, the state of Idaho and the county of Latah have committed against this simple and decent man. The Mohrs are so shameless in their attempts to ruin Leas that they convinced Christine Elder to allow Paul Mohr to sodomize her and then falsely file a police report that accused Leas of raping and sodomizing her at gun point. The charges were later dismissed as absurd, but Latah County Prosecutor Bill Thompson refused to prosecute the criminal act even after Elder confessed to the entire sick conspiracy.

Even though the Mohr's violated a court order and moved out of state in the summer of 1998, and thus committed the same crime of custodial interference for which Leas is still paying, Thompson refuses to prosecute them for that criminal act as well.

The citizens of this country should band together and support one another in times of malicious prosecution because, as we prove month after month in these pages, there are no remedies within the system. The government is out of control and no matter how heinous the injustice, it will protect itself against the innocence of the people it victimizes.

Fred, I am proud of you. You have stuck to your principles and your love for those girls. Your persistence is paying off. Soon, we hope that you will have taught corrupt officials and ordinary citizens an important lesson -- that nobody is above the law and that we can win if we have the strength of conviction to fight the good fight.

To Keith Lunders, Steve Mahaffey and everybody else who has stood by Fred and helped him to fight this most horrible injustice, thank you and may God bless you all for what you have done. Your actions may bring justice to other past and future victims of this cabal of corruption.

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