From the June 2001 Idaho Observer:

Pend Oreille County hires big gun to prosecute Bereiter's misdemeanor appeal

“Special prosecutor” then withdraws from case due to conflict

NEWPORT, Wash. -- Morris Bereiter, 52, who appealed a September, 2000 conviction for misdemeanor obstruction, found out that the county had hired prominant Spokane Attorney Paul Wasson to represent the county.

“We found out that Wasson had been hired March 15 to prepare a brief that was to be submitted April 16. There was nothing in the record to indicate that he had been substituted for county counsel. We found out about it at a status conference March 24 -- two weeks before the scheduled pretrial hearing,” said Bereiter.

Bereiter suffered a severe beating January 1, 1999, by Pend Oreille County sheriff's deputies Thad Schultz and Greg Rogan during a routine traffic stop (The Idaho Observer, July, 1999). Bereiter claims that he rolled through a rural stop sign at a rural intersection because the road was icy. By the time he found a safe place to pull over, Rogan was angry and pepper sprayed Bereiter in front of his two young boys then began beating the Newport man. Schultz arrived on the scene and helped Rogan beat the defenseless Bereiter who remembers being curled up in a fetal position absorbing blows.

Superior Court Judge Linda Eaton decided to make an example out of Bereiter after an intimidated jury found him guilty of obstruction. She sentenced him to serve 30 days in jail and two years probation and pay a $1,000 fine.

Wasson withdrew from the case May 15 after reading the file and apparently realizing that the county's role in the case was not something he wanted to defend.

The county has been given until August 1 to submit a brief and the appeal is scheduled to be heard September 6, 2001.

“Pend Oreille County has spent untold thousands of dollars to prosecute this misdemeanor case,” commented Bereiter who refuses to let the county get away with beating innocent citizens at routine traffic stops.

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