Handy's jury trial set back

SUBLETTE COUNTY – As attorneys on both sides prepare for a jury trial, 9th District Judge Marv Tyler sorted through motions and COVID-related issues at the videoconference pretrial hearing on Friday, Feb. 12.

In July 2020, John Handy was charged with felony delivery of a controlled substance, THC or marijuana, felony possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver and felony conspiracy to commit a controlled substance offense.

Handy allegedly committed the offenses in 2019 and January 2020. Detective Travis Lanning was informed by two people who were “known but not identified source of information” Handy was allegedly driving to Colorado, buying THC wax dabs for about $10 and selling them in Sublette County for about $60, the affidavit states.

One informant said Handy sometimes sold them to high-school-aged people. An informant was fitted with a wire and recorded a transaction that did not download, it says. However, a detective took notes during the controlled purchase, it says.

Handy pleaded not guilty; later he waived his right to a speedy trial.

On Feb. 9, Judge Tyler dismissed the third charge as requested by Sublette County Attorney Mike Crosson.

On Feb. 12, Judge Tyler reviewed defense and prosecution motions.

Crosson asked for his expert trial witness to appear by video, which public defender Rachel Weksler objected to on Handy’s behalf. She said Handy wanted his right to confront trial witnesses in person and watch their nonverbal expressions. Crosson said live videoconference is a suitable substitute for witnesses with travel or health concerns.

Judge Tyler took it under advisement.

Further, Weksler – joined by Elisabeth Trefonas as co-counsel – asked Crosson to supply transcripts of “discovery” digital recordings so Handy could study them in his own time in jail. Crosson objected to providing transcripts. Weksler said for budget and policy reasons, neither the jail nor the state public defender program could provide “clean computers” for Handy to review the digital case against him “and assist in his own defense.”

Judge Tyler said he did not “have the power of the purse … or the authority” to order Crosson to provide transcripts or the jail to order equipment. He said a defendant’s access to discovery is not “unfettered” but must be “reasonable.” Judge Tyler denied the motion, saying he would review later if needed.

The rest of the hearing covered COVID-19 precautions and scheduling a new trial date.