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Attorney files motion to dismiss Lambert charges

Thursday, April 25, 2002

Prosecuting Attorney Stewart Lambert's attorney has filed a motion to dismiss charges against Lambert. Kent Rubens filed the motion April 22 in the Sharp County circuit clerk's office.

Lambert was charged March 22 for hindering apprehension or prosecution and obstructing governmental operations when officers attempted to arrest his son, Zachary, Jan 9.

The motion alleges special Judge Floyd Lofton was without authority when he approved the warrant for Lambert's arrest because Judge Harold Erwin had not recused himself from the case. Erwin had recused himself from hearing the younger Lambert's case but did not submit a recusal for the elder Lambert until March 25, three days after Lambert's arrest.

The motion alleges Lofton should be prevented from hearing the case because it would require him to determine if he acted appropriately when he issued the warrant.

The motion also alleges some of the police officers' sworn statements contained in the affidavit conflict with written reports of officers present when the events transpired.

Cherokee Village Police officer Wendell Lane's report on the incident is quoted in the motion: "... Stewart then turned to me and asked me if I had a warrant. I advised Stewart that I was not aware that I had to have a warrant to make a traffic stop."

This is the first instance where the words "traffic stop" have been used in documentation made available to the press. The affidavit said officers were patrolling the area of Lambert's home looking for a black pickup truck matching the description of a vehicle Zachary Lambert was known to drive. It said officers spotted the truck and it sped up. The officers then pursued the truck to Lambert's home, continuing the chase on foot when Lambert and John Thurman exited the vehicle.

Lane's report states that Lambert promised he "would question the boys (suspects) and that if they had done a crime that he would not cover anyone; that they would take responsibility for their actions. Stewart then advised us that he was tired and going to bed and that he would get in touch the next day when all of the officers and deputies involved were there."

Cherokee Village Police Chief Larry Smith said he was contacted the next morning by Lambert's attorney, Larry Kissee.

The motion claims the investigation has been marred by police misconduct on the part of Arkansas State Police investigators and Smith. It said investigator Mack Thompson attempted to change Thurman's story when he interviewed him Jan. 10.

The motion states the attempt of officers to enter Lambert's home without a search warrant violated his constitutional rights. It maintains officers could have obtained a warrant or remained on guard if they so chose.

It is unclear who will hear the motion. Lambert's attorney said he "didn't know what is going to be done." Special Prosecutor Will Feland was unavailable for comment at press time.

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