Sixth District Judge Don V. Tibbs has been exonerated by a Utah court administrator of bias and prejudice charges related to drug cases, but Sevier County Attorney Don Brown says he will appeal the ruling to the Utah State Court of Appeals.
The charges were filed by Brown in behalf of Sevier County Sheriff John Meacham."The court cannot find nor conclude there was bias or prejudice on the part of Judge Tibbs in this case," wrote 4th District Court Judge Boyd Park in the decision. He added that the court believes a more appropriate proceeding by the Sevier County attorney would be an interlocutory appeal.
In reviewing Tibbs' statements, Park said he sensed frustration on the part of Judge Tibbs regarding police procedures, existing laws of search and seizure, and actual guilt of the defendants. "This is a frustration shared by many judges and law enforcement people (but) this court cannot find that his frustration rises to the level of prejudice," Park wrote.
Tibbs has stated he believes it to be improper and illegal to stop a vehicle for a particular traffic violation and then arrest the occupant or occupants on other charges. In two cases, he ruled that cocaine and marijuana found in vehicles was inadmissible as evidence in court.
Parks noted that in releasing the defendants, Tibbs said he weighed the search procedure against the rights of the individual and the rights of the state, concluding, "Under those circumstance, I keep thinking of how many other people are being stopped on the highway and their vehicles searched that we never hear about."
Park said in his decision that if the state believed the findings were inaccurate, it should have been appealed.
Tibbs requested the court administrator ruling.