Summa has a court appearance; what happened?

VictorSumma.jpg
Update 9 pm
: at 2:58 today, I posted the headline of the 1:48 PM Nfld News story titled: Summa admits poaching petition, won’t face jury with an excerpt of the first three sentences and the blog post title  “Summa admits guilt; criminal charges dropped.” (continued)

I’ve now changed the blog title to a question and removed the excerpt because at 5:48 pm today, the Northfield News published another version of the story (both versions are still available as of this writing) titled: Summa, prosecutors make deal. They included this correction at the top of the article:

CORRECTION – This story has been changed to clarify information regarding the stay of prosecution agreement between Victor Summa and Rice County.

While we discuss what actually happened, here’s the comparison between the text of the two versions.

Code: BLACK=unchanged; Strike-through=deleted; Underlined=new text

Summa admits poaching petition, won’t face jurySumma, prosecutors make deal

NORTHFIELD — A The Rice County Attorney’s Office will drop its criminal case against a former City Council candidate has admitted wrongly accused of wrongfully taking public documents from City Hall, the Rice County Attorney’s Office said if he remains law abiding for 12 months, according to an agreement signed Monday.

Prosecutors will drop a criminal charge of interfering with property in official custody against Victor Michael Summa, 77, if for 12 months he remains law abiding for the next 12 months, said Rice is not involved in any offenses that could result in criminal charges, according to the agreement signed by Assistant County Attorney Paul Beaumaster.

In exchange Summa was required Tori Stewart and Summa’s attorney.

Summa waived his right to a speedy trial for the deal. He said little in court, other than to say that he understood the terms.

While the agreement does not require Summa to admit guilt, Beaumaster said, but not to apologize as had been requested by the city until recently.wrongdoing, it does imply that Summa’s actions were worthy of criminal charges, noting that the condition of the stay is that he doesn’t engage in the “same or similar chargeable offenses.” The agreement specifically cites the “unauthorized taking of public documents.”

In September 2008, according to a criminal complaint, Summa filed a petition with the city and returned the next morning to remove pages from what had by then become a public document.

Despite City Clerk Deb Little’s objections, police alleged, Summa left with six pages, which were altered and returned later that day.day. In his order earlier this summer moving the case forward for prosecution, District Judge Gerald Wolf found probable cause to believe that Summa may have committed a crime in taking the documents.

Interfering with property in official custody is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $3,000 fine.

Summa did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

62 thoughts on “Summa has a court appearance; what happened?”

  1. Griff – you’d better check with Corey Butler of the Faribault Daily News about this. He covered the hearing and his account of the outcome is similar to what i witnessed (I was at the court this morning, as well.) I my view, Victor Summa neither was required to admit guilt, nor did he do so. My understanding is that Judge Borene granted a continuance for dismissal of one year – placing certain conditions – after which, if the conditions are met, there likely will be a dismissal of charges.

  2. Griff: Victor and I have just come from the NFNews. Suzy Rook has pulled the story as she admits that it is, in its present form, highly inaccurate. She said that Beaumaster was “retreating” from his earlier statements. Jim Hammerand was also there in our discussion; he wrote the headline which is admittedly part of the inaccuracy of the story.

    There is no admission of guilt; there is no assignment of guilt, bottom line: there is no guilty plea and there never would be.

    When the jury trial which Victor had requested was assigned to the Asst. County Prosecutor, Tori Stewart, she called Victor’s attorney and said she wished to resolve the issue and not proceed to trial. It is my perdsonal opinion that Ms. Stewart got put in a box by her employer, Mr. Beaumaster, and did not care to take the loss on her record.
    I repeat: the entire resolve was at the request of the prosecutor who would have had to prosecute the jury trial.

    That is all I am going to say now , as I am too GD mad to say anymore at the moment.

  3. Northfield News mishandles the Community Resource Bank move story

    Locally Grown mishandles the Victor Summa story

    …you beat-up on the Nfld News but freely headline their errors as fact…how about a story on your blind acceptance of their errors…and un-smear Victor…

  4. No admission of guilt was asked for or expected. None was offered or admitted. Where does this misinformation come from? Why is it a summary, a headline. Griff?

  5. Griff: You really need to change this headline or you are spreading a falsehood the same way the NFNews was…

    I need to say this again: there was no guilty plea, there was no guilt admitted,there is no implied guilt in a stay of prosecution, and the county attorney’s office called our attorney to resolve without going to trial.

    Now the Northfield News, in their revised article, after they pulled the initial one which contained multiple untruths, is blaming Paul Beaumaster for giving them wrong information… is anyone ever going know whether he did (that seems unlikely) or did they just write an unverified article?

    If they wanted to do some investigative reporting to make up for their egregious errors, they could tie down the facts of what reporter talked to Mr.Beaumaster, and when, the facts of how that first article got written the way it did … their Faribault reporter, Corey Butler , who was in the courtroom, verified to Jane Mc Williams that he did not agree with what was written… How did it happen? and why?

  6. at 2:58 today, I posted the headline of the 1:48 PM Nfld News story titled: Summa admits poaching petition, won’t face jury with an excerpt of the first three sentences and the blog post title “Summa admits guilt; criminal charges dropped.” (now ).

    I’ve now changed the blog title to a question “Summa has a court appearance; what happened?” and removed the excerpt because at 5:48 pm today, the Northfield News published another version of the story (both versions are still available as of this writing) titled: Summa, prosecutors make deal. They included this correction at the top of the article:

    CORRECTION – This story has been changed to clarify information regarding the stay of prosecution agreement between Victor Summa and Rice County.

    While we discuss what actually happened, see the above comparison between the text of the two versions.

  7. Alas, Dean, I didn’t think it was possible for the newspaper to make such forceful declarative sentence involving the County Attorney:

    In exchange Summa was required to admit guilt, Beaumaster said, but not to apologize as had been requested by the city until recently.

    and have it be completely wrong so that they’d then state in a revision

    While the agreement does not require Summa to admit wrongdoing…

    I plan to keep quoting from and linking to Northfield News stories that I think relevant but from now on, I’ll insert something like “The Northfield News is reporting that…” and not use any blog titles that assume they got the facts right.

  8. Griff, I didn’t see story in the Faribault paper, either. I mentioned their reporter in #1 because, since he had been at the hearing, I called him this afternoon to see whether he agreed with the News’ earlier report. He did not.

  9. Thanks for the amendments, Griff.
    Did you notice that the NFNews second article added the words “police alleged” in the fifth paragraph? That shows the lack of understanding they have of the process, and, in my opinion, the determinedly prejudicial nature of their reporting, i.e., the police do not “allege”; they investigate and report the results of those investigative reports.

    Furthermore, it should be noted that “the City” has never asked for an ‘apology’; that is completely false. I would like to see the justification for that statement.

    All of this only reinforces the need for a news source that follows accepted classical journalistic values of verifiable truth.

  10. Sadly this is a way to get around the “innocent until proven guilty”. The county knows they will lose in front of a jury so they offer a deal to avoid your spending dollars to defend which casts a shadow of guilt on the innocent and requires no proof. This is done everyday and is just another indicator of a criminal justice system that is way out of control.

    1. David- I agree with your comment, “… a criminal justice system that is way out of control.” This thing reminds me of a scene from “A Few Good Man.” The two lawyers are arguing, and the main charater says,
      “It’s not what I believe,
      but what I can prove.
      So, don’t tell me what I know
      or don’t know. I know the law!”
      I still think it is too bad that Victor didn’t get his day in court, even though it probably saved everyone a lot of money. Sometimes expediency does not serve justice.

  11. summa.v2a summa.v2c summa.v2b

    A sharp-eyed reader emailed me screenshots of the Northfield News coverage yesterday. There apparently was an earlier version of the 5:48pm story.

    In that original 5:48pm version, the correction says:

    CORRECTION – This story has been changed to correct incorrect information given to the Northfield News by County Attorney Paul Beaumaster.

    That correction has been changed without explanation to this:

    CORRECTION – This story has been changed to clarify information regarding the stay of prosecution agreement between Victor Summa and Rice County.

    The paragraph that’s now been removed without explanation in the updated 5:48pm version :

    Rice County Attorney Paul Beaumaster said Monday afternoon that Summa was required to admit guilt, but the attorney later said he was not at the hearing and not familiar with the specific terms of the agreement.

  12. I would be interested to hear what Britt or David L think about this process. As a non-expert, it appears the prosecution says we will put this on hold and not prosecute as long as you have no other offenses for one year. This means Victor was born into a state of innocence, that Victor is now innocent and will remain innocent unless the county is successful in prosecuting, should it ever do so (at which time he would likely be proven innocent). The headline should just read, “Victor Summa is Innocent!”

  13. Griff .. everyone in town really knows the N News is a lack luster performer even if they have received awards for superior journalism. Some may to shy to express themselves publicly. Everyone talks in the corridors! The cadre of so called journalists at that site are an embarrassment to the craft. That having been said does not take away the relevance of the old adage… you can’t win in a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel. ALSO .. unfortunately, a broad general statement like mine tars the entire staff. How do you call out the spotted apples?

    Truth is … you can … if, person by person we take little nicks at their credibility. Why is this important? Because they are the most relied on source for information in the community, – accurate or not. Until we have a successful Broad Sheet – E or hard copy – reaching the entire community, the N.News will continue to dominate with their ability to at least give the apparance of full unbiased coverage.

    Since this story first broke on the N News site … before there was any print version there has only been one time when the News quoted me, this on Sep 13, 2008 as a result of a phone interview of me by Jacki smith. I’d contend there has never been one wit of investigative journalism.

    On Sep 13 2008, shortly after she received the memo of insufficiency from M. Swanson (city attorney) and D. Little (city clerk) Smith called me with questions … and I told her what I knew then of the evolving saga .. and the related issue with some faulty pages in the petition, including my withdrawal of them on Sep 4 (or 5). I did not mention the investigator’s interviews, which had taken place in relative non public ways, just days earlier. We did talk extensively about the Swanson/Little Memo, which Smith had .. .read to me and was the reason for her call.

    One only has to read the Memo finding the Petition insufficient, to see where Little and Swanson admit they had never heard of Administrative Rule 8205. This is the state’s controlling rule of the process of petition. To any person undertaking a task (a petition seeking a reverse referendum), it might appear that Deb Little was ineffective as the City clerk … and the more experienced City Attorney, positioned herself to be of little help to the citizen. Additionally, one of the city attorney’s primary charges – oversight of the city Charter … was and is filled with misinformation, template forms and processes regarding petitioning.

    Who’s more to blame here? Swanson whose been on the job (drawing a salary) for years or Little, only recently elevated by Al Roder from Transit Mavinette to city clerk. Clearly if you read the few E mails that went back and forth between this duo and myself, as I prepped the petition, you can see they had responsibility to the process … attempted to disavow any of that … and provided misleading information and formatting … all of these, cited by them in their Memo dated Sep 11 finding the petition insufficient. Go figure.

    In fact, I’m not really sure they ever took the legal measures to proclaim its insufficiency. If that requires Council action (and it might .., should?) I don’t believe that step was ever taken. FUBAR on the Girls’ watch.

    But that really is a side agenda to the issue of A legal withdrawal, v. the illegal taking of, documents from City Hall.

    Clearly Miss Little allowed me to remove these when she asked for the receipt … something to the effect of: IF you want to take them you’re going to have to sign for them!” I’m in a hurry!

    Lies, misinterpretations, and poor judgement have dotted this situation and the stories that go with it. The N. News took every opportunity to NOT tell my side of the story during the lead up to the election. A Former Councilor came to the Open mic and accused me of Criminal activity. (EVIDENTLY BY the 9/28/09 Court action this was never a fact.)

    Additionally, it seems a a cadre of City Hall employees and associates contrived to escalate the situation into a chargeable offense.

    Lesson # 1 In short, you can’t EASILY fight City Hall, the Newspaper and the Staff.

    Lesson # 2. You must!

    The News reports even today that the Police alleged criminal activity. Not true. The police investigators interviewed the principals and wrote a report. Even that recorded testimony is inconclusive … but … enter the zealous County Attorney. They wrote their summary, inserted words like “grabbed” and the judges who were brought into the fray, issued a probable cause ruling, based on specious remarks and interpretations.
    Did the County interview the investigating officers… asked them, if a few days after the initial interview what they told Kiffi and me about the credibility of the allegations… of the waste of public funds, etc?

    Read Tori Stewart’s complaint to the judge asking for the issue to be bound over for trial. She pulls the phrase “grabbed form Little’s hand” out of the thin air. Whole cloth … or a bald faced lie? FACT: None of the interviews of the women at city Hall who witnessed the brief exchange between Little and myself every said anything like “GRABBED” (implying some force) including Little … but Stewart wrote it and the N.,News reported it … although they could have read the transcripts themselves.

    Almost a year later … with the Sep 15 ’09 scheduled Settlement Conference looming, the assistant County Attorney (Stewart) called my attorney and asked to resolve the case. I was not initially pleased at the thought. I felt that anything other than acquittal by a jury would allow the bloggers without names to continue to take aim at me. The plight of a political person. Money and reality played an important part in the decision to work the dismissal route.

    For over two weeks this discussion limped along. At the outset It seemed Tori Stewart was fed up with the way Beaumaster had inserted himself into the case. She wanted a settlement … not a loss.

    We went back and forth, exchanged various agreement text, then at one point, Stewart stiffened — this resulting I was told, to be of Beaumaster’s hammering her for a better endgame for his office. You’ll not have to look far to find real problems in Faribault in that venue … and one might easily assume Mr. Beaumaster wanted a cleaner record than a full dismissal would have netted his office. In any event, we finally reached a tacit agreement that was codified on Monday in court.. No big bang .. just a whimper.

    Re-enters the journalistic acumen of the N. News. News…award winning and all that!.

    In a web article, authored by a person paid to report (last name Hammerand) he writes an account of the court proceedings. Griff has posted that misleading botch … and I understand two later iterations were posted where the News and the County Attorney try to avoid falling verbal debris of their own making. Some of these have been pulled from prominence only one remains in the archives … but Griff has copies of the originals!

    Hammerand it seems, wasn’t even there in Court! Corey Butler, another N News reporter, was .. and you’ve read Jane McWilliams account of her discussion with him.

    Hammerand claims to have spoken with Beaumaster. So, did he? Well, throughout the brief article Beaumaster either lied or doesn’t know what happen. But those comments have been dissolved in the ethers. Save Griff and his source. Thank you for splendid record keeping.

    It appears although only briefly, this second attempt at Journalistic credibility was hastily done and as you can see it has been revised since. Even so, this third iteration is still simply wrong and/or misleading throughout. The revised article … a little less offensive, still leaves room for clarity. Some of my initial reactions are as follows:

    for example phrases like: “Summa waived his right to a speedy trial for the deal. He said little in court, other than to say that he understood the terms. ” 

    There is no deal. They offered to resolve .. .we exchanged text and they saved as much face as possible … hence Beaumaster’s meandering remarks.

    He said little in court, … This gives the impression that I was recalcitrant, guilt ridden, sullen … when in fact no one said much. I answered the Judges questions, There was little need nor room for further comment.

    A more accurate report might have been: The entire saga was much ado about nothing. The County saved face and Summa cut his involvement. Clearly the county had no case, but they have the leverage of the court system. In fact, if Summa does not have occasion to be charged with committing a similar crime for the next 12 moths, that well make over 78 years of his not having committed such a crime.

    Other misplaced remarks included: “It was not immediately clear whether the agreement called for Summa to admit wrongdoing. ”

    They credit me with saying it didn’t [sic] require I admit guilt … but leave the impression I may be lying. In fact, Beaumaster admitted he wasn’t there and hadn’t read the document. That may be the only relevant admission.

    The article closes with: “In September 2008, according to a criminal complaint …. etc.

    Yeah … “According to a criminal complaint” which … the County dropped, which the County asked us to resolve … which the county didn’t want to take to trail.

    This was a witch hunt based on a political agenda, exacerbated by inept professionals in Northfield’s City Hall, and fueled by at least one disgruntled former City Councilor who simply couldn’t stand up to the flack and together, it appears they inappropriately leveraged their legal position and connections to pursue this injustice.

    Now, with the trial set aside … there may be more to come on the illegal activity of affecting the outcome of an election. Now we may play on the offense!

    victor

  14. To the anonymous writer on the NFNews site/fair and balanced:
    1. The City never asked for a ‘apology’ as you say in your comment; Mr Walinski signed a complaint, bringing criminal charges under an inappropriate statute which had no case law to support its use.

    2. The goal was always to go all the way to a jury trial knowing that was the only way to get the truth of who was involved in criminalizing Victor’s actions. People who are innocent have no fear of a jury trial.

    3. Now, how did this stay of prosecution come to be? When Ms. Stewart was assigned the jury trial, she called Victor’s attorney and said she wished to resolve the matter; she did not wish to take it to trial. The language and conditions were discussed; Ms. Stewart wrote the final language which is so specific that there would be no chance of repeating the same action.

    4. The conditions of a stay of prosecution, which proceeds to dismissal, are in no way what you call “probation”; it is how the prosecuting agency shows its responsibilities, and saves its face. It is stated that it is neither a presumption, nor an admission, of guilt.

    5. BTW, you are also wrong about the role of the Judge; the judge has no role in this process other than making sure the defendant has been fully briefed , and understands. This ‘resolve’ is the call of the prosecutor, not the Judge.

    6. Now you, who are full of opinions, not facts, get an opinion from me: The NFNews has tried to perpetuate its prejudicial POV by writing three incorrect articles; they have pulled two of them.

    Does that sound like confidence in their ‘facts’?
    In addition, they tried to blame their statements on what they say were comments from Mr. Beaumaster, and then they quickly pulled that article, replacing it with a third with the same time stamp (OOps!)… Hmmm… looks like a big game of ‘pin the tail on the donkey’ to me. Increasingly it appears that the ‘donkey’ might be found at 115 W. 5th Street.

  15. Well, I just got back into Northfield last night. It is reassuring (?!?!?!?) to see that world kept turning while I was gone.

    I gotta admit, I haven’t had enough coffee to follow Griff’s crossed-out and underlined thing and Victor’s lengthy dissertation touches upon so many lofty topics such as Mom, Apple Pie, and the American Way that I can’t find the basic thread of events. So let me try to figure out what happened earlier this week.

    The News published (and Griff parroted) that “Summa admits guilt; criminal charges dropped”, County Attorney Paul Beaumaster brought a criminal to justice, and Mr. Summa did not immediately return the News’ phone call. Then we find out that, in fact, Mr. Summa and the prosecutors reached an agreement, Mr. Beaumaster passed a case he’d been handling for 12 months onto Asst. County Attorney Tori Stewart, and Mr. and Mrs. Summa visited the News’ Managing Editor Suzy Rook in her office where she admitted that the News’ story was highly inaccurate.

    And my buddy David Ludescher considers this matter to be sensibly resolved. We spent 12 months messing with this thing, at great cost in legal bills to both the Summas and the taxpayers, and you call it…oh yeah, you’re an attorney.

    If my understanding of these recent events is fairly accurate, I raise a toast to Ms. Stewart and thank her for bringing this matter to a conclusion.

    1. Ross: “Sensibly resolved” means that it is about time that the County realized that prosecuting Mr. Summa was a waste of time and money. I hope that they come to their senses soon about prosecuting Lansing, and forget this BS with Roder.

      Victor: It doesn’t matter if you admit guilt or not. There is not much doubt in my mind that you violated the law.

    1. Curt: I thought everyone recognized that Victor is a “very liberal” guy!

      P.S. so as not to live up to my reputation with you as a “pokenose”, I’ll not speak to the facts…. except to say that the complaint doesn’t either.

  16. Kiffi, I was “authorized” to use the word “pokenose”. Will you forgive me–or should I say, grant me a continuance for dismissal if there is no same or similar invective for the period of one year?

  17. Mr. Summa, I’m not surprised. You did it, but you don’t want to pay the price for it. No different than any other law-breaker in America.

  18. Scott Neal and Marcea Frazier – How can you presume to pass judgment? Do you know the facts? Were you there as a witness to what happened? The court heard the facts and threw out the case. Obviously this shows Victor’s innocence. I am sure glad we don’t have “linch mobs” anymore!!!

    1. Julie- Re. my comment to David H. in 15.1 above, there is a difference between provability and innocence. That is what I think is unfortunate in Victor not having a chance to prove his innocence in a court of law. Also, now we linch people on the internet rather than in a tree.

    2. Julie,
      Scott and Marcea are free to draw their own conclusions based on the evidence at hand. It’s sorta like with Al Roder, but with more specific imformation in the public record upon which to base one’s conclusions.

  19. Victor, they are just jealous because you went out and did the hard work of collecting signatures – and that is making-it-happen. More power to you!

  20. I agree it was good that the Rice County Attorney’s office realiezed that they did not have a case. I am sorry that everybody wasted so much time and money.

    This is not like speeding, where you know that you might get a ticket if you are caught going too fast–how many people out there actually knew that once given to the municipality, a document becomes the possesion of the city? (If you are an attorney you don’t count in this survey.) Most people would not know that and city clerk Deb Little did not know that or she would have told Summa that he could not take it–not that he needed to give her a receipt.

    In steps city attorney Swanson to improve on the complaint but not really understand the law. Summa refused to plead to a crime he did not commit–and the county attorney realized they did not have a case.

    Viola! Dismiss and make sure you don’t sin again! Very catholic of them.

  21. Some answers to a few comments.

    Curt:  The term “authority” used here was by the County Attorney. It is not mine. I merely responded to the radio interviewer when questioned using the attorney’s terminology.

    You reference THE COMPLAINT … which I assume you cite,seeing it as some overarching authority in determining guilt or innocence. Even with their complaint in hand, the County Attorney’s Office evidently did not feel they had a case.

    Based on materials provided by the investigation, the Complaint, is in no way anything more then the participants statements, with prosecutorial “spin” added.

    That’s not evidence!

    David: you wrote,  “It doesn’t matter if you admit guilt or not. There is not much doubt in my mind that you violated the law.”

    So much for being an officer of the court and adhering to the presumption of innocence. If you had something intellectually honest to contribute to this conversation it might center around a discussion of the inherent conflict between ‘presumption of innocence’ and ‘probable cause.’

    I stand behind my actions recent and past as an involved citizen of this community.

    Scott Neal: Let the record show how your grandest moment was marred by the Northfield Planning Commission holding strong in defiance of your goal, but more importantly, how almost singlehandedly, you and your track record were responsible for the citizen’s rejection of an option to change the Charter from the process of governance in this town from a weak City Manager/strong Mayor to a zealously stronger City Manager. I guess we won that one too!

    Imbedded in your comment directed at me is the fear your ilk have of mere citizen comments at the open mic. With all the mechanism of the governing process at your disposal, citizens such as myself having no tool other than their voice at the open mic seem to strike fear in your heart while confirming, your disdain for municipal self-governance and your employers.

    I was offered no deal … I was asked to resolve.  The County asked me to waive my right to a speedy trial, so they could impose the conditions allowing some saving of their face. The County’s case was weak, and while not too satisfied with the result, I’m proud of my effort. You’ll notice I seemed to have stopped the million dollar makeover of City Hall.

    Otherwise I close with this … my sincere hope that your son is doing
    well.

  22. I was unable to attend the court action on Tuesday. I tuned in KYMN radio the next morning and what I heard gave me a pretty good flavor of what transpired. That afternoon, I checked the Northfield News website for their version and was surprised to find it totally different from what I’d heard on the radio. It was a very accusatory, negative report. Not to mention, as it turns out, untrue on several points.

    Good to see the problem aired on this blog. And good to see the newspaper attempting to correct their report.

  23. What boggles my mind is that only a few even care to look at the numerous troubling aspects of this occurrence.

    Just a few of those aspects: The administrative rules MN8205 etc govern the rules and processes for petitions. Our City Charter has other/additional etc rules. By the rules, the city staff is obligated to provide guidance on the structure of the petition. In their memo on the insufficiency of said document, both Ms Little and Ms. Swanson reveal that they were not aware of the governing rules, and indeed gave advice, but not sufficient or even accurate advice. As Judge Wolf pointed out when he questioned Ms. Little under oath , the city had NOT fulfilled multiple requirements under the administrative (8205) rules. His last statement, after the questioning of Ms, Little, was: well, I guess if the city has no process, it’s “CYA” … yes he said that in the court!

    No one has ever questioned the process of the notary on the fateful packet, the notary who used his official seal to notarize 6 blank pages. Keep in mind that packet was NOT one which Victor was in control of, but is the one he withdrew, in exchange for the requested receipt, because he feared it would taint the petition as a whole and cost a notary his job. No cares about that irregularity, or maybe its misuse of authorization.

    There are so many more aspects that it is pointless… “too much he said, she said” as Victor commented to the NFNews … to try to reiterate them all.

    But here’s my basic question, and I have no answer for the many times it arises…
    Why is the NFNews in the City’s ‘pocket’, and often with no regard for truthful reporting? The first report in the paper of Monday’s court action can be seen in Griff’s #16 post; the successive alterations to that first story can be read there also. There are outright misrepresentation of fact in that first report, and then the paper keeps trying to dig itself out, even going to the extent of blaming its wrongful representation on Paul Beaumaster, the County Attorney.

    Another relevant example of this behavior , is their earlier ‘expose’ of the number of closed meetings of the Hospital Board, and the possible illegality of those meetings. In that initial story they liberally quote Mark Anfinson, a recognized authority on open meeting law, and the quotes are pretty damning.

    Then in Wednesday’s paper they come out with an editorial which whitewashes the entire possibility of wrongdoing with this statement: “… it’s doubtful the board’s intentions were less than honorable.” They then conclude that it is the fault of the legislature in not being able to write a clearly defined open meeting law!
    Wait a minute, this complaint of the hospital board decisions has been going on for years; a few years ago the LWV Observer quit, saying there was never a discussion or decision making process at the full board meeting. There are multiple attorneys on the Board, both then and now, and the former Council Liaison was an attorney.
    So, which , the article, or the editorial, represents the newspaper’s POV? And why does their editorial reverse the perspective of their immediately previous article?

    There is much , much more to the entire issue of information in this community than just the obvious current issues. There is, it would appear, a desire to NOT provide, either from the local government or the fourth estate, the factual information that a citizen needs to function as an informed participant.

    How will this be fixed?

    I might surmise that in general, there is not much concern that it be ‘fixed’… it’s just more fun to play word games, argue in circles, NOT answer direct questions, but make unfounded allegations… and then of course, presume innocence on those who have demonstrably done wrong but are not brought to court … but rush to ‘convict’ those who have sought a jury trial to prove their innocence, and when the prosecuting authority does not wish to ‘try’, take their innocence away by false statements made in print.

    Often, a “reasonable solution” is not at all reasonable; it is just pragmatic.

    1. I need to make a correction. I said that in Griff’s #16 he posted the first iteration of the NFNews article about Monday’s court appearance, but I was wrong. He did not post again the most untruthful , the first article, which they removed three hours after it was put up. He did put up all the successive iterations.

      The original article that had so many false statements was time stamped as 1:48.
      You can ask Griff to refer you to it, from his files, if you wish to see it without alterations.

  24. Kiffi, the text of the first Nfld News story is included in the blog post above, tho it’s tricky to discern with the comparison text/strike-thru’s etc.

    Here’s the screenshot:

    Nfld News victor1

  25. KYMN news director Scott Peterson’s interview with Victor Summa and Paul Beaumaster is included in his audio summary of the week’s news. It starts at the 2 minute mark:

    Curt wrote in comment #23 above:

    Victor, I heard your sound byte on KYMN this am, and heard you say that you were “authorized” to take the papers. That would be a very liberal interpretation of the word “authorized” in my opinion.

    Victor responded to Curt in #30 above:

    Curt:  The term “authority” used here was by the County Attorney. It is not mine. I merely responded to the radio interviewer when questioned using the attorney’s terminology.

    Victor, on the radio interview you can be heard saying:

    I was authorized by the city clerk to take the public documents.

    Can you explain further?

    1. Curt,
      Thanks for that link. The judge’s summary of the facts, and his ruling on the law and his finding of probable cause, are clearly laid out.

      Perhaps these can clear things up. Victor’s accounts of the incident can be found here:
      http://www.northfieldnews.com/photos/File554.pdf (pages 6-7)
      http://locallygrownnorthfield.org/post/4801/comment-page-3/#comments
      http://northfieldnews.com/news.php?viewStory=45973

      Deb Little’s initial account can be found on pages 1-4:
      http://www.northfieldnews.com/photos/File554.pdf

  26. Unfortunately, Scott Peterson’s interview doesn’t include anything from Beaumaster about the whole fiasco with the Northfield News.

    I sure hope the newspaper runs an editorial or staff column in tomorrow’s paper that explains this mess. Otherwise, we’re going to have to find a reporter somewhere to dig into it.

    Bonnie Obremski, come back!!!

  27. I was present to hear Deb Little and and Victor on the stand before Judge Wolf some months ago, answering Beaumaster’s questions. As I recall, Little did not take a strong stand against Victor retrieving pages (those lacking proper notary stamp?) because she was in a hurry to get to a meeting in Faribault related to upcoming elections. She allowed him to sign them out.

    Those at City Hall who pressed Ms. Little into this should be ashamed. And the cost to the taxpayer for all this unnecessary legal hassle is regrettable. I’d like to know what it is in dollar figures.

  28. Against my better judgment, I will chime in here to make a few points.

    Kiffi (#20): Technically the complaint was not brought by Mr. Walinski. Tori Stewart signed the complaint. And although the statute Victor was charged under is rarely used, it is not accurate to say that the statute had no case law to support its use. (Although I’ve only found one case at the appellate level charged out under the statute.)

    Jane (#29): This case was sensibly resolved, but not necessarily because the Rice County Attorney’s office “realized they didn’t have a case.” They sustained a probable cause challenge, which means that they very definitely had a case, although whether it could be proven beyond a reasonable doubt is a question of fact for either the jury or the judge. Many cases do (and should!) get resolved just as Victor’s did, in the interests of justice.

    Many “crimes” are committed every day that should not be prosecuted. It’s just not in the interests of justice to prosecute every crime. And sometimes the State doesn’t know that it’s in the best interests of its citizens to defray or delay a prosecution until the case is charged out.

    It’s not the Northfield News’s fault that the original story was inaccurate. They relied on a quote by Attorney Beaumaster. Beaumaster was initially mistaken. The Northfield News then corrected the mistake. It was fair of NFN to rely upon the statement of the chief prosecutor just as it was fair of the Summas to object to the inaccurate initial story. Such mistakes happen.

    Oh, and incidentally, the way the NFN is portraying the agreement for continuance for dismissal is slightly inaccurate. Saying that the agreement is contingent on for 12 months “[Victor]not [being] involved in any other offenses that could result in criminal charges” is too broad. Victor would have to commit a “same or similar” offense, which is somewhat subjective, but in a case like this it’s hard to come up with many possibilities.

    The distinction is as follows. Assume Victor stabs some guy in a bar fight. That’s a new, separate crime he could be charged with. But it’s not a basis to reopen this prosecution, as it’s not “same or similar” to interfering with official property.

    Similarly, Victor could shoplift an item from a downtown business; that type of theft (I would argue) is not same or similar as the charge that was continued.

    (Of course Victor will not do either of those things; I’m just using these examples to show a distinction I find important.)

    On a tangent, a year from now Victor will be able to get all of the records associated with this prosecution expunged. It is very rare to reach a resolution where the remedy of expungement is presumptive, and Victor has one of the rare cases where he can actualize a meaningful remedy.

    In summary, I understand why the Summas are upset about the initial (mistaken) news coverage. But I have had several clients whose faces and cases were covered by the local paper, sometimes printed on the cover in full color above the fold, only to have their cases dismissed by the judge for lack of probable cause or to be acquitted after trial. No retraction was printed and no follow up story was ever done, although I usually do submit press releases after most acquittals. Really, it is not a rare occurrence to find yourself an innocent defendant in a criminal prosecution.

  29. “Fair and balanced'”s latest comment on the NF news site continues to spread a repetitive lie.
    Victor did not have charge of the packet with the blank notarized pages. The person who did came to the council open mic on 9.15.08 and explained the notarization error. That was the packet Victor admits to withdrawing in return for the requested receipt, but he had nothing to do with that packet until he picked it up from its ‘home’ and delivered it to City Hall.
    He also had nothing to do with any altering or return of it, and that was also explained at the 9.15.08 council meeting by the person in charge of that packet.

    So who is this “fair and balanced” who keeps repeating the same lies over and over?

    Unfortunately the notary has never owned up to the trouble he caused by what looked to be the misuse of his seal.

  30. I’ll call this apples and oranges.

    Let me pose this:  I have a yard, enclosed with a fence.  Earlier you have visited bringing with you some apples that your mother had asked you to deliver to my mother in payment for a task she had performed for your family.  On the way, you noticed one rotten apple in the gift box … Let’s call it Jon … Jonny Apple.

    Probleeeem, How to remove it causing no upset. To remove it means you would have to unwrap the gift, destroying its character. Alter it. 

    Uncertain as what to do, and knowing your mother needed the gift delivered on time, you chose to deliver it and then talk with your mother to see how she would want to proceed.  But, finding your mother had left town, and not knowing what to do in her absence, you return to my yard and ask for the basket to look at something.  Being too busy to deal with you, I resist your request.  “Get out’a here kid!” You’re impatient, and persist, so, reluctantly I hand you the basket.  You go through it, find little jon, the rotten apple, and say:” I must withdraw this bad apple.” 

    I argue saying that you have no right to that apple.  

    You, of Italian heitage, having an agenda (to save your mother any embarrassment of delivering a bad apple) push your point.  Finally after a few moments of disagreement, I allow you to sign a receipt for the one apple.

    You depart with that apple, give it to your mother, who fixes it and returns it to me later that day.

    QUESTION:  Were you authorized by me to remove that apple?  If not, then take me to court.  Oh, they did .. and then they said, Oops!

    SUGGESTION: Why don’t you instead explore the dichotomy of the four versions of the N News report.  The mis-quotes… the County attorney looking like he’s not in charge or, the N News stepping all over individuals’ civil-rights.

    Or, New Thread: Do they get extra dessert at the closed meetings of the Hospital Board?

  31. Okay… so, you don’t like that. How about this?

    See, you guys are relentless. Must have way too much time on your hands …. or, maybe it just that you love afternoon TV.

    Okay … let’s go TV for five dollars.

    It’s time for the show that asks, uh? Let’s Parse Words!

    Special to Curt. Curt, our first contestant hails from Northfield Minnesota. Untangle this Curt: What you think the judge might think about what I might think is really a stretch to relevancy … I think.  

    Interesting though that you mention the good judge. Like, did I mention to you what I think he thinks about your furry beard? 

    Oh, and by the way … what do you mean: “either”.  A handful of – a clear majority, or, just the one needed juror’s vote?

    Think about that.

    Alright … Now, Try these: 

    A) Given the right

    B) Received permission

    c) Allowed to act

    D)Had the green light

    E)Shaves infrequently

    Parsers ahoy!  Are any of the examples above comparable with “authorized?  

    Next question: Which are not?

    Now, put a name of someone you know, next to any of the phrases that best describes the person.

    CLOSING CREDITS:

    Once again, the County Attorney uses “unauthorized” – therefore my response is; I received authorization … I had authorization … I was authorized.

    Deb Little asked for a receipt and got it – read about it in all the links you’re bandying about

    Beaumaster says:  I am presumed innocent. Of course I’m understandably skeptical of his remarks … witness the quotes attributed to him by the N News.

    Once again: I stand behind my actions recent and past as an involved citizen of this community.

  32. Victor: You might have done the right thing; but, it was still illegal. You were cut a huge break – celebrate! Like Britt said, most people in your position don’t get so lucky.

  33. David Henson. How oranges got in this blog? Choices. It was all about choices. Good one’s and bad one’s. The Council chose to spend the million. I chose to challenge them. The staff chose to challenge me. I chose to fight. The County Attorney evidently made a good choice and offered to drop or whatever – Brett can parse with those words. I chose to accept, having made my point and come out not too bad off. I chose to stand up for Northfield. I hope others will choose to join me in the next crisis.

    Or … David H. perhaps orange being the color of the prison garb, I chose to wear
    sky blue.

    1. Victor, I think you need to be careful, you start off offering a balanced apples and oranges program but as you go on it becomes clear this is all about the apples. The oranges need you too.

  34. David L: if you insist that what victor did was illegal, without it being tried out, then there is NO presumption of innocence, and I feel very sorry for your clients if you take that position. It erodes the system of our courts. Why have trials at all if you are presumed guilty without one?

    He has always admitted he withdrew the one packet; he and many others, including attorneys, feel that he was allowed to take it in exchange for the requested receipt.

    I’ll say it once more: the loss of “presumption of innocence” erodes our court system”.

    I am through with this ‘virtual reality’; it is non-productive.

    1. Kiffi,
      It’s kinda like with Al Roder and his presumed innocence. Or Lee Lansing and his. Or George Bush and his. Under the law, innocence is presumed until guilt is proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

      However, that is formal, legal “guilt.” Colloqiuial “yeah, he/she probably did something illegal or wrong” guilt is a very different matter. Each of us is allowed to look at the law and the facts available, and form our own opinions about colloquial guilt/innocence. Having formed such a personal opinion, we can keep it to ourselves, or at least we just need to steer clear of the crime of slander/libel – and perhaps also steer clear of poor taste or incivility.

      So here’s the good thing: the matter is settled, and Victor isn’t going to jail.

    2. Victor: Sorry. I didn’t mean to imply that you were proven guilty in court. Patrick said it better than I could have.

  35. When given any situation where only bits and pieces of information is known, I really try hard to avoid forming any opinion whatsoever until a thorough inquiry is complete.
    Honest questions, curiosity, all healthy and good medicine,
    but these prejudgments, not good, not good at all. They leave a sting on both the prejudgee and the prejudgor, imho.

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