Former Jefferson County Treasurer Mark Paschall entered a not guilty plea today on charges that he solicited a kickback from a former employee. As The Canyon Courier reports:
Paschall stood quietly while his attorney, David Lane, entered the plea for the high-profile Republican.
Paschall will face a jury trial set to begin on Oct. 16 in Jefferson County. The trial is expected to last up to four days.
Paschall is accused of having solicited a kickback from a $25,000 bonus he offered to a former political appointee shortly before he left office after losing the 2006 election to fellow Republican Faye Griffin.
He remains free on bond until the trial.
Paschall’s attempted kickback was caught on audiotape, a story which was splashed across the front page of the Rocky Mountain News a few months ago, so he’s likely going to have a difficult time defending himself. His best defense might be to convince jurors of something he once tried to do before: that they don’t need to actually follow the law when involved in a trial. As The Free Republic wrote in 2003:
From his county offices, Jefferson County Treasurer Mark Paschall has been handing out citizens’ jury-rights guides that rely on biblical phrases and conservative thought.
Paschall said the 1,000 booklets – most stamped with his name and elected title – are “my personal gift to the people” and were purchased with $500 to $600 of his money and that of two political allies who work in the treasurer’s office.
The pocket-sized booklets promote “jury nullification,” a concept built upon since 1989 by politically conservative groups that argue juries have the right to not only decide guilt or innocence, but also whether laws are just and adhere to God’s law.
“YOU ARE ABOVE THE LAW!” the booklet says. “As a JUROR in a trial setting, when it comes to your individual vote of innocent or guilty, you truly are answerable only to GOD ALMIGHTY.”
“I want people to understand the form of government that we have and the rights and freedoms that went before,” Paschall said. “If it raises eyebrows, I think it perhaps ends up waking people up.”
County, political and legal officials say Paschall has a right to express his beliefs, but not to distribute such material at the Jefferson County Courts and Administration Facility.
“I don’t think it is appropriate to pass these out in the treasurer’s office in the county building,” said Jefferson County Commissioner Pat Holloway.
I’m sure Paschall will wish he could nullify his own jury in a couple of months.