State reduces charges against Falcone

Man accused of being drunk in a Juneau bar

Posted: Tuesday, July 01, 2008

A $100 discrepancy affected the outcome of John Falcone's trial Monday more than the strongly argued legal defense his attorney mustered against charges he was drunk and disorderly in February.

Assistant District Attorney David Brower returned from lunch to say the state needed to reduce a felony "criminal mischief" charge for damages allegedly done by Falcone in the Rendezvous Bar, because the state couldn't prove its claim.

There was new evidence, and the state couldn't meet the $500 damage threshold, Brower said.

Earlier in the day, public defender Eric Hedland told the jury the DA's office failed to provide a receipt or photo evidence for the damages Falcone allegedly caused when a bartender told him to leave following a morning of binge drinking and big tipping.

The revamped charge significantly reduces any punishment Falcone faces if found guilty for damaging the pool table in the bar. Where he once faced five years, Falcone now faces up to one year.

Hedland said he didn't know why the DA's office pushed the felony in the first place.

"It's now a misdemeanor again," he said.

Falcone said the state pushed the higher charge through a grand jury after he insisted on defending himself in court. They were trying to force a plea bargain, he said. Falcone said he would never plea bargain.

"The truth will come out," he said.

Before a judge denied Falcone's constitutional right to represent himself last week, Brower said Falcone "would waste the court's time and the state's time, and most likely - ultimately - the jury's time."

Brower's argument fell flat Monday. A misdemeanor trial would require only half of the 12 people now in the box, Hedland said.

The jury of five men and eight women included at least two jurors who served in a recent robbery trial that found a Juneau man guilty of half the charges the DA's office leveled.

During his opening Monday, Brower told the jury the case before them was not a complicated one.

If you didn't know it was against the law to be drunk in a bar, "I'm here to tell you it is," Brower said. Falcone was drunk and after the bartender told him to leave "he started to get rowdy" and threw bar stools across the room, he said.

Falcone was "super drunk and being a bit of a pill," that is not in dispute, Hedland said.

What is disputed are accusations that Falcone damaged the bar and resisted arrest once confronted by police, he said.

Brower called two Juneau police officers, the bartender and one patron to the witness stand hoping to prove his case. He is expected to call one last witness today before stepping aside for any defense witnesses.

• Contact reporter Greg Skinner at 523-2258 or e-mail greg.skinner@juneauempire.com.



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