Woman’s bid to throw out drug case on double jeopardy denied

 

DOVER — The long-running case of a 46-year-old Dover woman accused of unlawful prescription monitoring will go forward despite double jeopardy objections by the defense.

Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Clark issued a 15-page opinion Monday that continued the prosecution of Michele C. Marvel.

The case resulted from an alleged offense in July 2014 and brought indictment on three counts of unlawful access of prescription monitoring program information and one count of making a false statement.

The defendant argued that a mistrial was improperly declared in February after Judge Robert B. Young found he knew her mother, and thus no second trial was warranted.

Finding “no evidence of bad faith conduct on the part of either the State or trial judge,” Judge Clark dismissed the motion and ordered the new trial to begin Thursday.

A trial against Ms. Marvel has been previously scheduled and delayed six times beginning on July 19, 2016.

Attorneys Andre’ Beauregard and Ron Poliquin are representing Ms. Marvel. Deputy Attorney General Tiphanie Miller is prosecuting.

Another case against Ms. Marvel (also known as Michele M. Staats) for alleged offenses in August 2011 is in a holding pattern, according to court documents.

Ms. Marvel was arrested on Oct. 27, 2015 and indicted on charges of fraudulent obtaining of controlled substance, second-degree forgery, healthcare fraud, and second-degree conspiracy.

The first trial included one day of testimony from five witnesses on Feb. 22 and Judge Young scheduled the matter to reconvene on Feb. 27.

On Feb. 23, however, Judge Young sent an email to counsel stating it had “come to his attention that the defendant in this case is [a friend’s] daughter.

“I think this presents a problem with my going forward to the case. Moreover, I do not believe that the problem can disappear simply by having counsel ‘agree that we are satisfied that the Court will be completely impartial’ or any such thing …

“Since counsel for the defendant first requested a bench trial, I’m a little surprised that this face wasn’t made known to me before we started. Possibly it wasn’t known by him either. In any event, I certainly do not look at this as a fault of either the State or the Court.

“Hence, no issue of double jeopardy would come into play.”

During a teleconference with attorneys on Feb. 23, Judge Young explained that he has known the defendant’s mother as a friend “for a long time and will see her with some regularity.”

Defense counsel maintained his client had no relationship with the Court, and “then reminded the trial judge of the conversation during the pretrial conference where the State informed the Court of a potential conflict due to Ms. Marvel’s mother working in the court system.

“The trial judge responded that he did not recall such a conversation. The judge further maintained that he did not think there was any way for him to proceed.”

The State agreed with Judge Young’s purported inability to continue, the order stated.

According to documents, the defense counsel responded “[a]ll right” when Judge Young announced a new trial would have to be scheduled.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.