Handling of Hall cases deserves greater scrutiny
There needs to be a investigation of the way our local justice system handled the cases against Tristan Hall.
If you read the News Journal at all, you’ve no doubt seen our reporting on Hall. He’s the local man that was accused of making a posting on the forums of the Internet website Topix (www.topix.com) in 2013 in order to hire a hitman to kill someone. He had some other charges piled on as well. He steadfastly denied all of them. He fought the system at every turn. He stridently contested every charge. He refused to accept even the most lenient and increasingly desperate plea bargain offers from prosecutors. They clearly wanted him to just admit guilt to something … ANYTHING … so this whole sordid affair didn’t appear like a monumental waste of time at best; a vindictive abuse of the system at worst.
Finally, they just gave up.
Hall spent nearly 500 days in jail or on home incarceration awaiting trial, all for nothing. His family is out hundreds of thousands of dollars. He may have “won” in the end, but not really. Loss of freedom can never be returned. The money’s probably gone. Reputations never fully recover. You get punished either way.
Last week all felony charges against Hall were dismissed WITH PREJUDICE. That’s a pretty rare thing. It means he can never again be prosecuted for those alleged crimes. He has a couple misdemeanor charges against him that I imagine will, in all likelihood, go the same way.
The ins and outs, twists and turns of Hall’s experience with our local judicial system could never be adequately explained in a mere news story. We did our best, but there’s just too much. Personally, I think the bizarre things that took place are cause for concern. God forbid I’m ever accused of a serious crime, because leaving my fate up to the Whitley County courts is a scary idea. Some things are just too important to put in the hands of such a sketchy system.
Hall’s saga reinforces that, to my mind.
He had bond conditions added to his legal paperwork in error, or changed to his detriment, without a hearing, at the whims of a judge. This happened on several occasions, and it’s wrong. Prosecutors and judges who recused from his case because of conflicts of interest, would often only bow out AFTER they hung around long enough to make damaging decisions and motions against him. That’s wrong too.
A couple of times, his family was turned away when they had enough money to bond him out of jail because … well … nobody really knows why.
A bullheaded attempt to convict him for “threatening” and “intimidating” phone calls made to the prosecution continued even after it appeared as though he never actually made the calls. That was a little baffling.
I think there’s ample reason to believe that charges were being levied against him in order to make things so onerous that he’d just give up. Wear him out in jail or run him out of money.
An insurance fraud charge got dredged up out of the past and added to the mix, but was so ridiculous and weak that it literally eroded chances of any successful prosecution against Hall in the other cases.
The “investigation” into the accusation that he advertised online for a gun-for-hire seemed inept. If someone is accused of making a post to an Internet website to hire an assassin, naturally you’d want to seize his computers or mobile devices as evidence right?
Apparently not. Police never did.
It appears that someone in position of power locally undertook a successful effort to get his admission to law school rescinded, which seems kind of nasty and premature considering how things turned out.
Here’s a weird one. Hall had to go to the hospital with a concussion when he was attacked by a fellow jail inmate during one of his five stints in the Whitley County Detention Center. The inmate was almost rewarded for his action and received no punishment to speak of. Court video I’ve seen where his sentence is being discussed cuts off just before we are to seemingly get an explanation for such a light punishment. Hall spent more time in jail than his atacker and was never convicted of a crime. How in the world is that justice?
How about this one. I know we’ve got a lot of card-carrying National Rifle Association members that read this … staunch defenders of the Second Amendment and the right to keep and bear arms. Did you know Hall had a firearm seized from him without any sort of court order or right on the part of police to do so? Just taken. Just because.
There are no rules. Anything goes, apparently.
It goes on and on.
There’s enough weirdness here to warrant some type of scrutiny from levels higher than just our local investigators and courts.
I think it should happen before too much time goes by, and the case fades into obscurity.