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Rolly: Is urging a witness to tell the truth really witness tampering?

Published April 30, 2014 1:31 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Matthew Mackin was convicted of aggravated robbery in 3rd District Court in February and was then charged with an additional felony of witness tampering.

That trial took place in mid-April.

Mackin insisted on representing himself, but when prosecutor Nathaniel Sanders gave his closing arguments to the eight-member jury, legal defender Patrick Corum, who was in court as a standby defense attorney, urged Mackin to let him give the closing argument.

After all, a trial attorney doesn't often get the hanging curve ball to hit over the fence that Sanders had provided.

The witness-tampering charge stemmed from a note Mackin had given to a female witness in the robbery case that said: "Tell the truth." The woman also testified in the witness-tampering case that Mackin had visited her in jail and again told her to "tell the truth."

Sanders, in his closing arguments, told the jury that it didn't matter if Mackin told the witness to tell the truth. Contacting her was still witness tampering.

"You've got to let me take this," court observers heard Corum say to Mackin after Sanders' closing arguments.

Corum, in his closing argument, then told the jury he didn't recall a time when a trial attorney told a jury that the truth doesn't matter while arguing his case.

The jury deliberated for 45 minutes and acquitted Mackin of witness tampering.

Are they unionized? • I was driving south on State Street about 1 p.m. Sunday when I witnessed a worker shift change.

It wasn't a road construction shift change. It wasn't a patrol officer shift change. It wasn't a fast-food shift change.

It was a panhandler shift change.

I was stopped at the light at the Interstate 80 ramp, where a man exited a fancy new white van that was stopped in the lane next to me. He emerged holding a cardboard sign that said he was homeless and needed help. He walked to the bottom of the offramp and took his place with the sign.

Another man, with his own sign, then left the post and got into the van. The light turned green and we all drove off.

Lasting images? • Utah might be a pretty, great state with life elevated and the country's best-managed government, but those aren't the stories that will be spread by hundreds of conventioneers who attended a global marketing conference in Salt Lake City this past weekend.

After the conclusion of the three-day conference of LifeVantage, an international manufacturer and marketer of health supplements and skin products, all the positive experiences had by one of the attendees from Hawaii were turned around by one incident in the middle of the night.

The conference concluded Saturday evening and the woman was spending her last night at the Salt Lake City Hilton before flying home Sunday.

About 1 a.m. Sunday, according to police, there was an altercation at the nearby Club Inferno that led to gunfire. One bullet crashed through the window of the woman's room and fragments landed inside her open suitcase.

According to one of the attendees on her way out of town Sunday, that was the talk of all the visitors as they were leaving their hotels to fly home. That, she said, and all the panhandlers they encountered downtown.

At least nobody said anything about getting a parking ticket.

Silent protest • Earlier this year, the Utah Legislature decided that the Colorado blue spruce would not be our state tree anymore. Lawmakers surmised it would be better to have a state symbol that did not have the name "Colorado" in it (especially since that state legalized marijuana).

Legislators believed the quaking aspen would better represent Utah (especially the "quaking" part).

Apparently, one blue spruce took umbrage. The 50-foot-tall conifer, which had been living in Red Butte Garden for decades, toppled over during a recent wind storm, exposing its roots and all.

It's as if it was saying: "Up yours, Utah."

At least the Legislature kept the official state star as the Dubhe (spelled differently than the slang term for a marijuana joint, doobie, but pronounced the same).

prolly@sltrib.com