Federal judge declines to dismiss constitutional claim against San Juan County, sheriff and former detective

Federal judge declines to dismiss constitutional claim against San Juan County, sheriff and former detective

  • Mon Feb 17th, 2020 12:03am
  • News

Submitted by Nicholas Power

In a ruling issued Feb. 13, United States District Judge Marsha Pechman declined to dismiss Dr. Gerald Grellet-Tinner’s constitutional claims against San Juan County, Sheriff Ronald Krebs and former detective Stephen Parker.

In 2016, Dr. Grellet-Tinner was convicted of sexual misconduct, but his convictions were later vacated by San Juan Superior Court Hon. Donald E. Eaton. Judge Eaton’s dismissal was based on discoveries made by an independent agency that during the prosecution of Grellet-Tinner, the lead detective on the case Stephen Parker, was having a secret extramarital affair with Natalia Garcia, Grellet-Tinner’s accuser. During the investigation into the matter, it was also uncovered that Deputy Parker had stated Natalia Garcia “set people up.”

After his release from incarceration, Grellet-Tinner sued the county for conspiracy and violation of his due process rights in federal court in Seattle. Tinner’s attorney Nicholas Power explained, “The Constitution guarantees that criminal defendants are given all evidence about their case. That did not happen in this case and Dr. Grellet-Tinner was not provided the information about the relationship between the detective and the accuser as required by the Constitution.”

Defendant Parker moved to dismiss the claims, arguing that there was not a legal basis for the suit. However, Judge Pechman rejected that argument holding: that Grellet-Tinner had pled sufficient grounds to establish a case for conspiracy. Judge Pechman said, “[The] plaintiff has moved well-beyond conclusory pleading, alleging that the defendant and Ms. Garcia conspired to keep the fact of their affair from him, depriving him of a right to a fair trial so Garcia could obtain a U-Visa from the federal government. Plaintiff further alleges that in order to accomplish this, Defendant instructed Garcia on how she should testify, dressed her for trial, and attempted to keep the fact of the affair from Plaintiff even after the trial, telling Ms. Garcia to “fix it” when she finally disclosed the affair and offering to pay her to remain silent.” Such fabrication of evidence and deliberately concealing exculpatory evidence are actions which, if true, could qualify as overt acts in furtherance of a conspiracy.

Prosecutor Gaylord is scheduled to be deposed by Grellet-Tinner’s attorneys on Feb. 20. The case is set for trial in the fall of 2020 in Seattle.