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Shipman writ denied, new trial to proceed

The Hays County Justice Center.

By SEAN WARDWELL
Managing Editor

District Judge James F. Clawson Jr. denied Shawn Nathan Shipman’s Writ of Habeas Corpus last week, meaning Shipman’s retrail will take place later this month.

Shipman’s attorneys hoped a ruling in their favor would cancel his re-trial and free him from the Hays County Jail, where he has been since his arrest on narcotics charges in October 2007.

Shipman was granted a new trial earlier this year after former Hays County Assistant District Attorney Lynn Peach contacted his attorney with accusations that the state withheld evidence from the defense.

Shipman attorneys David S. Watts and Chevo Pastrano Jr., filed the writ believing the state had violated the Brady Rule, which requires prosecutors to turn over all evidence to the defense that could prove a client’s innocence.

At the heart of the issue was whether or not the original source of the information was a confidential informant or a concerned citizen. A concerned citizen is considered the more reliable of the two. Peach alleged that prosecutors listed the informant as a concerned citizen, instead of a confidential informant.

Clawson, in a three page ruling, found against the defense on all issues of fact.

“The informer in question was not subpoenaed as a witness, and the State did not intend to call the informer as a witness in any of the causes pending trial,” Clawson wrote. “The District Attorney’s office never interviewed the informer. The sole use on the informer by the Hays County Narcotics Task Force was a basis to begin an independent investigation concerning possible criminal activity on the part of the Applicant.”

Continued Clawson, “The informer’s credibility was not vouched for or commented upon by the Affiant in the application for the search warrant obtained in these causes. Based on the evidence presented, the Court finds that the name of the informer, in and of itself, was not Brady material.”

At the end of the original hearing on the writ on June 12, the defense indicated an intention to appeal if Clawson ruled against Shipman. The new trial for Shipman is scheduled for late July.

Peach resigned in protest from the Hays County District Attorney’s office on May 11 due to what she believed was misconduct on the part of Assistant District Attorney Chris Johnson and San Marcos Police Department (SMPD) Detective Laray Taylor in Shipman’s conviction on narcotics charges.

Police arrested Shipman in October 2007. Shipman pleaded guilty in March to delivery or distribution of a dangerous drug. Under the plea agreement, he was sentenced to the 498 days of time he had already served. However, Peach alerted David Watts, Shipman’s attorney, to the possibility of misconduct in the case against his client, resulting in a new trial.

Peach testified that the original informant against Shipman was not a concerned citizen, as Taylor and Johnson represented. Rather, said Peach, the original informant was a confidential informant who was cooperating with police to better her own legal situation.

Shortly after Peach testified,  District Judge Jack Robison recused himself from the case and the district attorney’s office was not given the chance to cross-examine Peach. Shipman was granted a new trial on May 4, with Hays County District Attorney Sherri Tibbe offering no objection.

“There’s been a taint on Mr. Shipman’s conviction,” said Tibbe during the hearing.

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#1 Comment By Seen it all now On 07/09/2009 @ 10:02 am

Sean I assume a follow up story will be coming with interviews from those involved…ie…Ms. Peach, Mr. Watts, Mrs. Tibbe, Chief Williams?? Ever thought about interviewing Shipman at the jail? I’m very courius what his take is on all of this? He will probably be going to prison for a long time after his new trial (when all the evidence is presented). If my information is correct, I think he would be getting out in December under his original guilty plea agreement last spring. I wonder what he thinks about his lawyers now?

Have you checked with the State Bar to see if ethics violations have been filed against Peach for divulging Attorney/Client privledged information and speaking to the press about pending cases? Peach was very vocal when she thought things would go her way and Newstreamz was very quick to publish her allegations.

I’m sure those conspiracy theorists will conclude that Judge Clawson is now in Tibbe’s back pocket and he is part of the government cover-up. Watts and Pastrano (and Tom Garner to my absolute amazement) had the opportunity to question every witness involved in this case during the hearing before Judge Clawson. They chose to call Ms. Peach….not Detective Taylor who they are accusing of lying. What an opportunity to have Taylor on the stand and prove that he lied! But they did not call him as a witness! I wonder why? Because they know they are wrong and once Taylor gets on the stand, the truth will come out and they will be sunk. Period.

Like I have said before, the real victim here is Shipman who will spend many years in prison because of a personal vendetta Watts and other local attorneys have against Tibbe. It is politics pure and simple.

#2 Comment By Seen It All Now On 07/13/2009 @ 8:30 pm

We are all still awaiting your follow-up story Sean. Newstreamz was very quick to cover and REPEATEDLY write stories alledging misconduct on behalf of the DA’s office and law enforcement. Not quite as enthuiastic to cover stories when the truth is exposed which proves no drama, no lies, no misconduct, etc. Do your job. Interview people involved (besides Peach who has already been shown not to be credible and does not know what she is talking about). You might actually find a decent story letting your readers know the truth instead of a bunch of lies and accusations.

I also hear love is in the air between Peach and one of Shipman’s defense attorneys. Never saw that coming. How long has that been going on? I wonder what role that played in her accusations from the start? Things that make you go “hmmmmm”. Maybe the next photo you take of Peach for a story can be from the NS balcony with her and her new found love arm in arm….

I’m also curious where all the other commenters from previous stories are now? The silence is killing me. There must be some new conspiracy theory you can come up with now! Chirp, chirp…..

#3 Comment By The San Marcos Kid On 07/13/2009 @ 9:23 pm

Seen It All, I’m not a reporter or a court watcher, but aren’t you kind of jumping the gun thinking all these people are going to be interviewed for a story when there’s still A TRIAL COMING UP? Like, they’re going to blab about all this before a trial that involves some of these issues? “Do your job,” you say? You’re not even serious. Now, I’ve seen it all.

#4 Comment By Sean Wardwell On 07/13/2009 @ 9:42 pm

Seen it all, we talk to the people who will talk to us. That’s a fundamental rule of journalism. If we could make people talk, this would be an easier job.

Invitations have been repeatedly extended to all parties in the matter. Once again, we can’t make them talk, and some are under legal constraints that prevent them from talking at all. Some parties have indicated this to us already, and we look forward to getting their side when they are free of legal obligation.

You seem to think we had, and have, sources lined up around the block ready to spill their guts. Not so. You also seem to imply that we have some kind of agenda here. Aside from imparting the information we can obtain in an impartial manner, we don’t. Allegations regarding possible misconduct in our local justice system are news. Any journalist would agree. The trial is not in the story though. It’s in a courtroom, as it should be.

As a journalist, I have to deal in fact instead of speculation, rumor or innuendo. I am confident that I have not editorialized or drawn a single conclusion. I also don’t have the luxury of opinion when it comes to a news story. When its published, it rests in the readers hands. Some will draw their own conclusions, much as you seem to have done. I accept that. It’s part of the job. That’s why I didn’t respond to your first post in this thread.

However, if you have some special knowledge, or proof that refutes information or statements contained in these stories, as you seem to, I would be more than happy to speak with you, on the record, under your real name, regarding said knowledge.

If you click on the “about” tab at the top of the page, you’ll find my email address. I will make the time to meet with you, and we can get what you seem to be sure of out there.

I look forward to your message. Otherwise, this publication will continue to cover what is still a developing story in a professional and ethical manner.

#5 Comment By Paul On 07/13/2009 @ 10:49 pm

Well said Sean

#6 Comment By chris north On 07/13/2009 @ 11:02 pm

Battle on, Sean.

#7 Comment By Sara On 07/14/2009 @ 8:06 pm

O MY GOD !!!! I really fell for Mr Shipman , do all these PEOPLE NOT REALIZE they are dealing with a young man life here , come on ( DA’s Police Lawyers Judges ) Drop the politics. I really wish we could her from Laray and Mr Shipman looks to me Laray has it out for Mr Shipman check your police records from Oct 2001 who laray arrested- I think there might Be a raisic thing going here to.

#8 Comment By SIck of it On 07/15/2009 @ 11:09 am

Perhaps Newstreamz should do a Open Records Request or what ever they are called now for the DAs office to see who logged in to Newstreams 10:02 am on July 9, 2009. Me thinks its Cathy Compton or one of her minions.

#9 Comment By Sharon Michel On 07/16/2009 @ 1:23 pm

To: Seen It All

You challenged people who had blogged before by saying ‘where are they now.’ Well, I am one of the bloggers from before and I am still here, waiting for the judicial system to run its course, which is what you should be doing. It seems more than obvious to me that you are working for the District Attorney’s Office and I am struck by how much time and effort and venom are being expended on your blogs. When did this matter go beyond judicial process and into the personal lives of the attorney’s involved? You have sunk to a new low. After Shipman’s trial is over and done with, maybe you should think about changing careers – The National Inquirer sounds up your alley.

#10 Comment By NewsWatcher On 07/16/2009 @ 3:23 pm

Well said, Sean.

#11 Comment By courtwatcher On 08/19/2009 @ 6:40 pm

If Shipmanpled on Friday August 14, as scheduled, why has there been no follow through on this story? Could it be,as when Newstreamz did NOT print the truth that came out in the writ hearing, they you are afraid of “eating crow”? The reputations of Ms. Tibbe, Mr. Johnson and Detective Taylor have been sullied without cause. If the trial is over, why wasn’t there an interview with the special prosecutor? Don’t say he wasn’t available – he was in the courtroom after the plea, and in the courthouse, for almost an hour. No press was there.
Something stinks about the whole matter. It’s becoming clear that this journal isnothing but a political hack for those who are out to get dedicated public servants who are just trying to do their jobs.

Shame.

#12 Comment By Casual Observer On 08/19/2009 @ 7:09 pm

Hey, Courtwatcher:

Put on a diaper. The only thing that stinks about this matter is your incontinence.

Maybe they just haven’t finished the story yet, which isn’t so unusual. This plea was three working days ago. If I recall, these guys didn’t jump right on this story when it started way back when.

#13 Comment By Bill Peterson On 08/19/2009 @ 7:16 pm

For the benefit of those who lack composure – and there are many such fake names on this thread – Newstreamz is and has been working on this story.