Day 1 -- May 14, 2014...
Grey clouds would sweep across the sky, dropping torrents onto parts of Brown County during the mid-afternoon. Before that, it was bright and sunny, letting those involved with the Varnau case enter the Courthouse without any concern about being drenched.
Bradley Braun, one of the prosecting attorneys, came smugly swaggering into the courtroom and that attitude was, likewise, reflected when he questioned the first witnesses (Judith Varnau and Officer Huff). After a few questions in which Dr Varnau exhibited good control of information, he became exceedingly defensive when Judith Varnau was answering his questions and insisted she stick with 'yes or no' answers, even though previous answers had shown the needed answers were more complex than simply 'yes or no.' In fact, that he waited til seeing the pattern of competence of his target victim, and then suddenly changing and hostilely insisting she just answer 'yes or no' would indicate to the observant observer that he must've not liked her previous answers... Now what about her detailed explanations would've triggered that? Maybe he is too impatient to let someone other than himself have their say...except he asked for details from the following witness rather than keep them hidden.
Which leads some observers to believe that maybe Varnau's details would've destroyed his case and he needed to keep them hidden. Either way his arrogant, huffy attitude was clear despite him repeatedly mixing up names and seeming rather unprepared for the trial. You could see that it seemed like the judge was getting frustrated with Mr Braun's questions. In contrast Defendant Varnau's family atterney, Tom Eagle, came across as 'ready'... as though he'd actually prepared for the trial. Even in the one instance where he couldn't remember a street name, he did remember the people's name's involved in the 'events' being testified to and even graciously admitted it was his fault...something Mr Braun *never* did.
Instead Braun's attitude would make one wonder about his attitude and commitment to 'fact-finding' and 'truth-seeking', much less wonder about his hostility in which he incessantly descended into horrible slanderous preludes to the actual question (which 'question' would be all the witness was to speak to) when he was evidently more interested in lambasting his victim.
Even when someone didn't give the answer Mr. Eagle was looking for Mr Eagle admitted that he must've not phrased the question correctly and proceeded to rephrase the question so it basically meant the same thing with added touches for the witness' viewpoint, which got a more specific answer. Fact-finding exonerated.
Because there are four different brain types, because there are more personalities than just follow-the-leader-wanting-prosecution, different people will have different responses to each and very question. Mr. Eagle made it clear that he could properly communicate with any of those people, unlike Mr Braun's rigid inflexibility toward the witnesses.
Now, the testimony itself had some gems of information despite Mr Braun's seeming attempts to prevent it. For example Judith Varnau was the first witness Mr Braun called and he started out having her state her qualifications (strictly as coroner, no history) and established that her duties as coroner, under the law, involved only determining the manner, cause and mode of death. They didn't include preserving the crime scene, nor crossing crime scene tape without authorization, nor taking fingerprints, nor removing anything from the scene that's outside the body and the near vicinity. The prosecution went on from there to have her identify pieces of evidence...one such was an email wherein she withdrew from the 1st agreement between her office and the Sheriff. He'd tried getting her to 'admit' to withdrawing from all 3 agreements they'd had, but he failed. He even failed at keeping it hidden why she'd withdrawn from the agreement. SHE HAD WITHDRAWN BECAUSE THE SHERIFF'S RULES HAD FAILED and someone died, possibly because of his rule.
So one must wonder why would she, why would anyone, remain in an agreement that wasn't servicing public need while being honored and was a danger to citizens...but that isn't something the Prosecution would want people to think about. It would ruin their case!
Later on Mr Braun would bring up that Varnau had a car towed with a body in the backseat before an examination could be done, 'hinting' that it smacked of 'disrespect' for the dead. In response Varnau would reveal that it was BCI (Bureau of Crime Investigation) that ordered the car towed so they could examine evidence in the car without the January pouring rain all around. At the obvious realization of the courtroom observers' likely reaction to freezing rain, deep mud requiring tractors and middle of the night timing, this brought about, Mr Braun then hastily switched to asking whether it wasn't true that in a later instance Varnau was the one who suggested another car be towed for her own comfort. To which Varnau responded that no she hadn't, that she'd "asked whether it should be towed." Asked, not suggested. Keep in mind this was after BCI ordered the first car towed before any investigation was done...thereby setting an example that anyone would ask about the second time around. Varnau did what anyone else would in her situation because, remember, she's not in charge of crime scene preservation as the prosecution kept implying as damaging for citizen safety and sense of anger.
The attempt to establish that Varnau hadn't been delivering guns to the sheriff's office backfired quite thoroughly too, first while Mr Braun questioned Varnau and she established that she had asked the Sheriff officers to take weapons that they had moved in their safety examination for spent shells and hazard, and that was confirmed when Mr Eagle cross-examined Officer Huff. (Mr Eagle had occasional objections to the 'inept' Braun questions but in this Plaintiff-selected witness-calling strategy, Varnau was not 'cross-examined' or in any way questioned/interviewed by her own lawyer, but instead would be expecting to be planning on Eagle calling her later).
The second witness was, as mentioned, Officer Huff. The one, actually notable question from prosecution was whether an investigation was ongoing when Varnau stepped in a 'pool' of blood by the victim's dead. Officer Huff said "Yes," paused, "I believe so." It was then established in cross-examination that the pause meant that Officer Huff wasn't certain about what was 'ongoing'. Likewise it was earlier established that Varnau's duty WASN'T CRIME SCENE PRESERVATION, and Officer Huff testified he hadn't pointed out where she shouldn't step. According to testimony it would've been a rather terribly bloody scene, with bits of body tissue splattered ceiling to floor. In richer county's that mess would have triggered a summons to crime scene crew that specialize in disaster cleanup/sanitation. Obviously not in BC. Officer Huff also testified that a physician like Varnau wouldn't be the appropriate person, nor have the appropriate training for reliably handling unfamiliar firearms. He would also be willing to take firearms from Varnau, it had been testified that Varnau had asked the officer present to take firearms before. It was the SHERIFF that put policy in place preventing that from happening, that she must 'deliver' them, and they were not to simply 'take' them. Imagine that! Which the officer did imagine and acknowledged that it was 'absurd' policy, which leads to the conclusion that the Coroner is not the one making absurd policies.
Even more absurd was the later 'explanation' by Chief Schadle that he had instructed his deputies such because he feared that Dr Varnau would unreliably bring charges against them for bogus reasons of her own creation. So far, they produced no sign of Dr Varnau suing anyone. In fact her reputed letter to the Attorney General (for clarification of her responsibility) was her fear in the beginning of her term of office that giving firearms and/or evidence to Schadle's deputies would involve her in a later lawsuit by a slicker lawyer, who (to protect a client-suspect) would uncover the Supreme Court's error in calculating timing (known as 'laches') and promote the claim that the deputies had no validly issued authority to operate and then the coroner would have tampered with proper handling of evidence to thus release a suspect on invalid prosecution defenses.
None of the Courts (all the way to the Supreme Court) where her husband had pursued Wenninger's credentials lawful validity claims, had ever dealt with the merits of the credentials issues and only dismissed the cases on technicalities of timing (first too soon in some tangle of quo warranto etc, then too late by an error in OSC's calculation of 'laches'). So there was no reason, out of fear of a humanly sensibly cautious woman doctor, for any sane manager of police operations to decently make such an insane rule as was seen in court. Not just in firearms, but most absurdly in firearms, making the pretense of it being a public safety issue in the press's opinion.
Further, it is ridiculous to think that a doctor, one not 'qualified' to handle firearms, could dictate Sheriff Office policy on investigation work outside the medical body-related areas. So why do the prosecution lawyers have the nerve to circulate petitions (other than hearse-chasing for income) to citizens with no decent chance to gather such a wide scope of data, from esoteric law content to memos to myriad event circumstances. And how do these hearse-chasing lawyers get the nerve to openly and boldly mouth their badly researched charges in open court before a judge who would hopefully have some familiarity with the reality of law content and law enforcement.
More to come, maybe when the Sheriff gets on the stand for TrialDay2.