Judge refuses to find factual innocence in Pellerin case | TheUnion.com

Judge refuses to find factual innocence in Pellerin case

A Nevada County Superior Court judge has denied a local contractor’s request to find him innocent of battery.

But Greg Pellerin’s attorney called the ruling “completely inappropriate” and said he planned to file an appeal.

Pellerin had faced battery charges that were dismissed earlier this year but filed a petition for a finding of factual innocence in reference to the 2010 arrest — a request so rare that visiting Judge R.M. Smith noted he had never presided over such a hearing in over 25 years on the bench.

Pellerin was arrested on suspicion of battery causing serious bodily injury April 20, 2010, after an altercation with a man who was serving him with legal papers, the same day he was scheduled to testify in a restitution hearing for victims of hard-money loan broker Thomas Hastert. Pellerin had a loan with Olympic Mortgage that was sold to Hastert’s Loan Sense.

Nevada County District Attorney Cliff Newell’s office declined to recuse itself from the case, despite Newell’s own personal business relationship with Olympic, but California Deputy Attorney General Barton Bowers eventually was assigned to the case.

In January, Bowers asked the court to dismiss the case because of a lack of evidence.

Pellerin then filed a petition, claiming there was no “reasonable cause” for sheriff’s deputies to have arrested him and that the process server was the aggressor. According to the petition, Pellerin rightfully made a citizen’s arrest and used lawful force to detain the man.

Pellerin testified at a hearing that as he followed the process server, the man hit him with his shoulder, knocking him off balance. The man allegedly then turned around, swinging at him and grabbing him around the waist before both fell to the ground.

Bowers had argued that there was probable cause to believe serious bodily injury had been caused when Pellerin used “excessive force” to detain and subdue the process server because the victim sustained multiple physical injuries that included abrasions and cuts to his face, hands and knee, as well as a laceration on his elbow that required sutures.

Smith ruled that as the petitioner, Pellerin needed to show that no reasonable cause existed to believe he committed battery.

“The petitioner did not meet this difficult burden of proof,” he wrote.

“This was the result we asked for and the result we expected,” Bowers said of the ruling.

“It was a very inappropriate ruling that did not follow the statute,” said Pellerin’s attorney, Patrick Dwyer.

“There was no finding of fact; he just simply cited the statute and denied the petition. We will be appealing.”

In other court news:

A Grass Valley man who had been arrested twice in April on burglary and drug charges and again in June after allegedly fleeing at high speed from a California Highway Patrol officer accepted a plea agreement.

Keith Jason Tulley, 25, had been arrested April 7 after deputies responded to an alarm call in the 12000 block of Loma Rica Drive. Tulley was driving a vehicle near an attempted break-in and allegedly had burglary tools in his possession, including lock picks. He also allegedly had hydromorphone, methadone and drug paraphernalia, including syringes and a spoon.

Tulley was arrested again April 10, when a vehicle in which he was a passenger was stopped by members of the Nevada County Sheriff’s Narcotics Task Force. He allegedly was found to be in possession of 12 Dilaudid, several syringes and other drug paraphernalia.

He was again arrested in early June while driving westbound on Highway 20 near Brighton Street, allegedly at 80 mph.

A CHP officer tried to stop Tulley, but he “took off” at a high rate of speed, driving into the opposing lane and through a construction site. He eventually was arrested after abandoning his vehicle and fleeing on foot into a grocery store.

Multiple burglary tools allegedly were found in his vehicle, and a search for an object he reportedly tossed out during the pursuit turned up a small amount of methamphetamine, Morrison said.

On Thursday, Tulley pleaded no contest to felony evading of a peace officer in return for a stipulated sentence of 10 months in jail. He is eligible for drug court on the other cases, according to his attorney, Greg Klein.

He is set to be sentenced Nov. 20.

To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, email lkellar@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4229.

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