Matthew Coulter set for trials on 3 misdemeanor cases in Nevada County Superior Court
A man known for speaking out at local government meetings remains set for trial on two cases charging that he violated a restraining order filed against him by the city of Grass Valley, as well as a third case involving resisting arrest in Nevada City.
That’s despite an effort by Matthew Coulter’s public defender to have one of the Grass Valley cases dismissed due to insufficient evidence.
Assistant Public Defender Susan Leff asked for an evidentiary hearing in the case stemming from the May 1 arrest, which was heard Thursday in Nevada County Superior Court.
Grass Valley had filed the restraining order against Coulter, 57, in 2018 and it is set to expire this September. The restraining order forbids him from stalking, harassing, threatening, following and interfering with city employees and members of the City Council.
On May 1, Coulter harassed two city employees on Brighton Street and then followed them when they drove to the police department to report the incident. Officers then spoke to Coulter, who said he was upset because the Public Works employees were idling their vehicle at Condon Park. Coulter added someone could have stolen the idling vehicle, police have said.
During the hearing, Grass Valley Police Officer Conrad Ball testified the two city employees were clearly identifiable as staff and were in the parking lot with Coulter sitting on a nearby bench.
Ball testified he heard Coulter yell at the employees to “‘Go back to f—ing work,’ or something similar.”
During cross-examination by Leff, Ball acknowledged there was no documentation in the police report of any statements made by Coulter against the Public Works employees, but added another officer wrote the report and that he did not file a supplemental report. There also was no mention in the report of the “go back to work” statement made by Coulter.
Ball testified that he could not recall if Coulter was asked if he was there to report a crime. But, he stated, he was aware of the stay-away order.
Leff argued Ball’s testimony was in conflict with the report, telling Judge Scott Thomsen it was “disturbing” to have an officer testify profanity was used, when that information was nowhere in the report.
According to Leff, there was no evidence presented to show there was probable cause to arrest Coulter.
Thomsen noted he was concerned about the omissions in the report, adding he would not consider the allegation of profanity. But the judge said the Grass Valley police officers did not need more than a perceived violation of the retraining order to make an arrest.
The trial for that case was set for July 21. An earlier Grass Valley case in which Coulter allegedly violated the city’s restraining order in February is set to go to trial July 14. And Coulter is set to go to trial on a charge of resisting arrest Aug. 4 in connection with a Nevada City arrest on March 5, in which he is alleged to have gotten into a verbal altercation with contractors outside City Hall and then became combative with officers.
Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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