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Contempt of court motion ‘remanded’ in Trageser case

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By Phyllis McLaughlin, Special to The Spencer Magnet

A motion filed last month by County Attorney Ruth Hollan to hold Taylorsville resident Lawrence Trageser in contempt of court was orally remanded by Hollan’s office Monday, April 1.
A hearing scheduled for Tuesday afternoon in Spencer District Court was cancelled as a result.
Trageser’s attorney William Stewart said Tuesday morning that he was given no other information about the recent turn of events, and said it is unclear what this means for his client.
“I hate to speculate,” Stewart said, but explained that, as a legal term, “remand” usually means that a motion has “been removed from the court’s consideration.”
If that is the intended meaning, Stewart said this means the motion to hold Trageser in contempt would be dropped. “Generally speaking, you anticipate that’s the end of it.”
But with nothing in writing from Hollan to explain why the motion was remanded, Stewart said it leaves open the possibility that the county may take further action on the contempt motion in the future.
Hollan, in a phone interview Tuesday, declined to comment on or explain the county’s decision to remand the motion.
“I never talk about an ongoing case,” she said.
According to court documents, the motion was filed Feb. 22 against Trageser, claiming that he was in contempt “due to his violation of his bond conditions and court order terms,” stemming from his Oct. 15 arrest on charges of harassment against Spencer County Chief Deputy Jonathan Bentley.
Bentley also has filed a civil suit against Trageser for “malicious and fraudulent” statements made about Bentley’s personal life and work, seeking unspecified punitive and compensatory damages.
In an affidavit attached to the contempt motion, signed by Hollan on Feb. 22, the county attorney states that “the conditions of the bond are ‘no contact with victim/complaining witness and no new violations.’ The Commonwealth made an oral motion to add the condition that the Defendant is not to post any personal information about the victim/complaining witness … on the Internet, and the judge sustained the motion on 11-11-12.”
A second affidavit attached to the motion, signed by Bentley on that same date, states that Trageser “violated his bond conditions in that he followed [Bentley] to L&L Exams Plus” in Louisville “then posted a photograph of [Bentley’s] car parked in a parking lot” at that address on his website, SpencerCountyWatchdog.com.
The affidavit also claims that Trageser “further violated his court orders by continuing to post information and derogatory comments about affiant on his website … including his photograph from his employee identification card, the description of his County owned vehicle and a copy of his Bi-Weekly Time Sheet dated November 17, 2012.”
On Friday, Stewart filed an objection to the county’s contempt of court motion against his client, stating that District Court Judge Linda Armstrong “issued just one condition, i.e. ‘no contact w/alleged victim’… ” on the docket following Trageser’s pre-trial hearing Nov. 16.
The objection further states that “No documentation exists showing that the Defendant was ‘informed of the penalties applicable to violations of the conditions of his release’ and that he was not ‘informed that a warrant for his arrest will be issued immediately upon such violation.’ ”
Kentucky statutes require the defendant to be informed of both of these, Stewart states in the objection document, and also points out that Hollan’s motion makes no claim that Trageser had actual contact with Bentley.
“Upon all of the above facts, Officer Bentley and the Spencer County Attorney, Ruth Hollan, are essentially coordinating an assault on the Defendant to punish him for exercising his First Amendment rights guaranteed by the Kentucky Constitution and the United States Constitution,” Stewart states in the court document. “They are certainly not pursuing justice through the prosecution of a ‘crime.’ ”
As of press time, Trageser is scheduled to appear before a jury in District Court regarding the harassment charge on June 11.