The Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office may have gone through back channels to obtain privileged information in the case of a Salt Lake City man accused of threatening to commit mass shootings around the city, and defense attorneys want prosecutors kicked off the case.
According to a motion filed last week in 3rd District Court, prosecutors violated the privacy rights of Jack Harry Stiles when they sought information from mental health providers without clearing it with Stiles or his defense team.
"Because the newly-assigned prosecutor has sought, and obtained, confidential information about Mr. Stiles, information clearly and directly protected by the therapist-patient privilege, and information indirectly protected by the attorney-client privilege, she has violated Utah’s Rules of Professional Conduct, and state and federal laws governing privacy concerns," the defense motion states. "When proper channels are disregarded, and information is obtained outside of permitted means, facts begin resembling gossip, and are disseminated as fact. The result is generally a complete derailing of cases. Such has been the result here. Mr. Stiles has rights, and they must be protected."
Stiles, 42, who is charged with one count of second-degree felony threat of terrorism for allegedly making threats to commit mass shootings at City Creek Center and other area locations, appeared Thursday afternoon before Judge Todd Shaughnessy.
Though the judge scheduled a June preliminary hearing in the case — at which prosecutors would lay out the evidence against Stiles — Shaughnessy acknowledged it could come to a grinding halt should prosecutors be booted from the case.
A bond hearing was set for Monday, at which time defense attorneys will try to have their client’s $1 million bail reduced.
Stiles, who remains in the custody of the Salt Lake CountyJail, was arrested more than a month after meeting with a crisis worker at Pioneer Valley Hospital in West Valley City on Aug. 12.
According to court documents, he told the crisis worker that he planned to "kill as many people as possible" on Sept. 25 — the anniversary of his mother’s death.
Stiles was arrested two days before the alleged attack was to occur after his crisis worker went to the police.
His attorneys insist this initial disclosure also violated their client’s right to confidence between himself and medical care providers.
According to police, Stiles said he had "scoped and mapped out" sites at City Creek Center and at Cinemark Movies 10 in Sugar House. At City Creek, he planned to "just randomly shoot and kill people" at lunch time, police reported.
He then said he planned to go to the Sugar House movie theater at 1 p.m., when it is likely to be less crowded, allowing him to select his targets more carefully, according to police.
In September, City Creek Center sued Stiles, claiming his threats brought bad publicity and led workers and shoppers to fear for their safety.
That lawsuit was ultimately dismissed after a settlement was reached that bans Stiles from coming within 1,500 feet of City Creek property.
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