Judge Denies Handwriting Subpoena in Lance Trial

Judge Brian Hill quashed a subpoena this week that defense attorney William Makler charged had been filed in order to harass his client, John Page, for speaking out as a defense witness on behalf of Peter Lance, the freelance scribe who has accused Santa Barbara Police Officer Kasi Beutel with, among other things, framing drunk drivers.

Lance was arrested for allegedly driving under the influence on New Year’s Day, and his lengthy articles blistering Beutel and the police department have become a front page mainstay of the News-Press. Lance charged that Beutel forged his signature on a document waiving his right to get a blood test after having blown positive on a breathalyzer. Earlier this summer, Page — also arrested by Beutel for alleged DUI — showed up in court and swore his signature was faked as well.

While Page has submitted 36 handwriting samples already, prosecutors contend their handwriting expert urged them to get more. To that end, they subpoenaed handwriting samples from Page’s place of employment. Page’s attorney, Makler, contended the subpoena places Page in an awkward position at work, and was designed to punish him for coming to Lance’s aid. Prosecutors have denied that allegation.

Judge Hill finessed that controversy by ordering prosecutors to pursue less intrusive methods to obtain the additional samples. Because it remains unclear whether Lance will ever go to trial — he’s filed a motion to dismiss based on misconduct by Beutel, her departmental superiors, the city attorney, and the District Attorney’s office — Hill argued there was not sufficient urgency that prosecutors get further samples from Page to warrant a subpoena now.

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