11/21/2010: "Guest Editorial"
By Heidi Hiatt
Colton Harris-Moore’s defense attorney, John Henry Browne, has threatened to bankrupt San Juan and Island Counties if they prosecute him on their soil. Instead, Browne would like to consolidate all charges and have them dealt with at the federal level.
These two counties, so far, seem to be disagreeing with that stance, and I applaud them for standing their ground. Given that the bulk of Harris-Moore’s victims reside in these counties, he should face trial there. While there are no guarantees, I would like to believe that this criminal will stay in prison longer if he doesn’t get a package deal at the federal level.
Remember, Browne appears to be painting his client as an oblivious boy who spends his time drawing pictures in solitary. He emphasizes his client’s youth, shyness, cooperativeness, and supposed desire to sell his story to pay back his victims. While there may well be significant truth to these statements, don’t forget that this man is a paid spin doctor who’s looking out for #1.
Browne’s arrogance is annoying. The Herald article not only quotes him as saying that he will bankrupt the counties that have a right to call his client on the carpet, he claims that his client will never see decades of prison time because he has a good lawyer.
This is not the first time I’ve been annoyed by Browne’s arrogance. As a domestic violence victim dealing with death threats years ago, I was investigated and interviewed by Browne. I was not intimidated by him and had nothing to hide, but I was outraged at items I heard about myself in the media that were not true.
For example, Browne told reporters that my then-spouse had asked me for a divorce, and I’d made up the allegations against him in response to that. Whether he came up with that or that’s what his client told him, I don’t know. But it was completely untrue, and on top of the stress of trying to leave a bad relationship, I had to deal with that grandstanding.
It would have been to his benefit to say less, not more, and as Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks pointed out, that may be true in this case as well. Harris-Moore has a lot to answer for and I’m sure many people see both the downplaying of his offenses and the blatant threats to take down two county governments as the transparent tactics they are.
You know what, Mr. Browne? On behalf of the many people in Island and San Juan Counties who have either been directly victimized by Harris-Moore or lived in fear for their homes and children, bring it. You may be good at what you do, but your threats aren’t going to scare anyone off.
Guys like Greg Banks and Randy Gaylord have already considered the risks and benefits of trying these cases on their home turf. If they decide to go along with other jurisdictions and leave Harris-Moore’s fate up to the feds, it’s probably not going to be because you’re beating your chest.