To the editor:
This is a response to the Sept. 22 article by Reed L. Madsen, Deseret News correspondent. The allegations requiring the recusal of Judge Don V. Tibbs in a recent case in Richfield were set out in that article.First, let me indicate that I am not commenting directly on that case but only to the reference which was made to a case which I handled with D. Gilbert Athay and which was used as an example of Tibbs' alleged bias against the police.
The article states that Tibbs "also angered local law enforcement officers and the county attorney when he ordered the return of more than $1 million in another case. The charges claimed the money was obtained from the sale of drugs, but the defendants contended it was received from the sale of diamonds."
The evidence that was presented in court gave no indication whatsoever that drugs were involved in the seizure of the money. Evidence was presented during the course of the trial involving the return of the money, which clearly indicated that the money was legitimately procured by the sale of diamonds in the state of New York. Both individuals were exonerated from criminal conduct, and all charges were dismissed.
During the course of the forfeiture procedure wherein the money was returned, the officers' inadequate investigative methods and lack of understanding regarding the basic elements of search and seizure law were clearly pointed out to the officers by the court.
Tibbs may have angered the officers by returning the money to its rightful owners, but in doing so he applied the law clearly, concisely and effectively.
Police officers may anger easily when they lose cases in court, but their anger should be directed at the lack of evidence and not at a judge of uncompromised integrity who is applying the highest law of the land as he finds it in the state and federal Constitution.
Ronald J. Yengich
Salt Lake City