New justice won't have to testify about old case

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A newly appointed Nebraska Supreme Court justice won't have to testify about why she took eight months to rule on a motion in a drug case.

Scott Johnson was arrested Jan. 31, 2012, after a Lancaster County Sherriff's deputy arrested him for allegedly finding four small bags of methamphetamine in his pockets when he was stopped for a traffic violation.

The next day, Scott Johnson posted bond and was released from jail. On March 20, 2013, then-Lancaster County District Judge Stephanie Stacy heard testimony on a defense motion to suppress evidence in the case. More than eight months later on Dec. 2, 2013, she entered an order denying it.

Scott Johnson's former attorney, Matt Kosmicki, moved for absolute discharge, saying the wait violated his client's right to a speedy trial. Stacy overruled the motion, and Kosmicki appealed.

The Nebraska Court of Appeals sent the case back in February because there was no reason for delay on record. Stacy said she hasn't been asked to explain the time she took, and didn't volunteer to, because judges are prohibited in general from being witnesses.

The Lincoln Journal Star reports that District Judge Vicky Johnson dismissed a motion filed last week by the Scott Johnson's attorney Matt Catlett, saying the case already had been decided.

Catlett argued that the delay violated a law that requires defendants be brought to trial within six months of charges being filed. Stacy concluded in April that Scott Johnson's right to a speedy trial had not been violated.

"He does not get a second bite of the apple simple because he has developed an alternative theory of why the original delay for the ruling on his motion to suppress occurred," Vicky Johnson said.

She cancelled a Nov. 6 hearing and voided all subpoenas, including one directing Stephanie Stacy, now a Nebraska Supreme Court justice, to appear to give testimony.

On Friday, Stacy was sworn in to a new post on the state's supreme court.

Published: Tue, Oct 27, 2015


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