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Motion to exclude evidence denied in animal neglect case

Posted: April 14, 2011 - 11:01pm

A Juneau Superior Court judge Thursday denied a motion to suppress evidence, along with several other motions, from a woman found guilty in Juneau Superior Court on Monday of cruelty to animals for neglecting 17 cats she lived with in a van.

Christen Blake stated she had additional motions to address before the hearing began and requested Pallenberg’s recuse himself. She also requested his judicial conduct be reviewed and a change of venue.

Pallenberg explained the normal process if a judge made errors in ruling or was in some way or other incorrect was for her to file an appeal so another judge can review the case.

Blake again said Pallenberg had said during the trial she had no civil rights, one juror was chewing gum, and another had fallen asleep. She accused witnesses of making false statements during the trial and alluded to possible marijuana and alcohol abuse from Pallenberg.

Pallenberg said Blake could file an appeal at the end of the case and if he made errors, she had an absolute right to have those instances reviewed.

Pallenberg said there were no facts that showed he should remove himself from the case or that affect his ability to sit as an impartial judge in the case. Pallenberg also said if Blake would point him to the portion of the courtroom taping where he said improper remarks he would go back and listen to it. He said the court would not reargue the case again, denied the request he be removed, issued an order that refers the case to another judge for review, denied the motion for change of venue prior to trial because there was no shortage of fair and impartial jurors in Juneau and reminded Blake the trial had already been held and if the venue change were granted he would be the presiding judge for the remainder of the hearings.

The proceedings then turned to their stated purpose: Blake’s request evidence seized during a Juneau Police Department welfare check at her van be ruled illegally obtained and inadmissible.

“The motion to suppress was filed two days before trial,” Pallenberg said. “And rather than deny the motion as untimely, and since you were pro se I gave you the latitude of allowing the matter to be raised at that late date but to be dealt with after the trial. I did that to make an accommodation for you.”

When the evidentiary suppression hearing began, Pallenberg said the standard under case law for a warrantless welfare check included that police must have reasonable grounds to believe there is an emergency at hand and immediate need for their assistance for protection of life or property. Pallenberg also said the search must not be primarily motivated by the intent to arrest and there must be some reasonable data of approximate probable cause to associate the origin with the area to be searched. Under that standard, he ruled the welfare check by Juneau police officers was warranted.

The issue, he said, was whether the entry into the van fell within the emergency aid exception of the general requirement police officers obtain a warrant or permission before searching a residence. He ruled it did, since it was clear officers were making sure no one was in distress in the vehicle, and denied the motion to suppress evidence obtained in the search.

The court wished to proceed with sentencing and Amy Mead, an attorney for the city, agreed but Blake asked for more time. She also requested leave to appeal her conviction with a filing deadline far enough out to allow her to review law without having to worry about judicial misconduct.

“This is my life,” Blake said. “Am I going to go to jail for people who are fraudulently stating appearances that cannot happen? We can not have what they say. Never in nature have we seen some of these statements.”

Blake requested the cats taken to the Gastineau Humane Society not be adopted out or euthanized.

Pallenberg set the sentencing hearing for 2 p.m. Thursday.

• Contact reporter Klas Stolpe at 523-2263 or at klas.stolpe@juneauempire.com.

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