A 4th District judge has denied a request to move from Utah County a hearing for Gay Lyn Hadfield, who faces contempt-of-court charges for refusing to take her children to a court-appointed therapist.
Sharon Donovan, Hadfield's attorney, argued last month before Judge George E. Ballif that her client won't be able to receive a fair hearing before local district court judges. Donovan said media coverage and ongoing public discussion of the case in Utah County necessitate a change of venue.Donovan asked that the hearing be moved to either Salt Lake or Summit counties.
Hadfield is the ex-wife of convicted child abuser Allan B. Hadfield, who was convicted in December 1987 of sodomizing and sexually abusing his son and daughter. He spent six months in jail on the conviction and is undergoing court-appointed treatment for child sex abusers.
In a four-page written ruling, Ballif said he could grant a new trial location only if all those involved agreed - something not likely to happen. Richard Nemelka, attorney for Allan Hadfield, has argued against a venue change.
Last month Nemelka told Ballif the local district court had "bent over backward" to be impartial and that a change of venue would drag out the hearing because more time would be needed for a new judge to acquaint himself with the case.
"Unless there can be a change effected between counsel for the parties, this court has no alternative but to deny the motion of the defendant for a change of place of trial," Ballif said in his ruling.
Even if he granted a venue change, he said, such action would not necessarily change the trial judge.
"Counsel for the defendant (Gay Hadfield) has not cited any case law or statutory authority which supports a change of venue because of the climate or feeling over a criminal matter, where the trial sought to be changed is civil and non-jury," Ballif said.
"This court will not seize an expeditious way of ridding itself of a very unpleasant case, no matter what is conjectured about the `emotional climate' or so-called `charges and counter charges.' The problem presented by (the case) must be resolved through the available procedure of the judicial system."
In the Hadfields' divorce decree in February 1987, 4th District Judge Ray M. Harding ordered Gay Hadfield to take her children to Dr. Lynn Scoresby, a Provo psychologist. Ballif upheld that ruling upon taking over the case from Harding.
Gay Hadfield, however, said she felt her children wouldn't receive adequate treatment from Scoresby because he interviewed them in their father's presence. Scoresby was also a witness for the defense in Allan Hadfield's trial.
As a result, she began taking her children to Dr. Paul Whitehead, a Salt Lake psychiastrist, for supportive therapy in preparation for testifying against their father.