From the Olympian of June 6, 2006
Bar brawl acquittal might cost state
Jurors find soldier not guilty in fight outside O'Blarney's
A courtroom defeat for Thurston County prosecutors could cost the state as much as $25,000, or more.
That's how much a 22-year-old soldier, Sgt. Matthew Young, could be entitled to in legal expenses after a jury acquitted him of second-degree assault with a firearm.
A Thurston County Superior Court jury ruled Friday that Young acted in self-defense when he wielded a gun to ward off a group of people who accosted him and his girlfriend on Aug. 20, outside of O'Blarney's pub on Martin Way.
In cases where a defendant claims self-defense and is acquitted, the jury is allowed to determine whether the defendant is entitled to legal costs. It happens rarely, and several South Sound lawyers and judges recall it happening once or twice in their careers.
Big load lifted
Not only is he getting his legal bill covered, he also no longer has a potential prison sentence hanging over him, or the prospect of not being allowed to serve with his Army Stryker unit, which is soon heading to Iraq.
He and his attorney say it was a case that never should have been taken to trial.
"(I felt) completely terrible. We tried to provide the prosecutor with all kinds of information that could exonerate me, but it fell on deaf ears," Young said.
Judge Gary Tabor must still decide how much Young should be awarded. The law allows reimbursement for court costs, lost wages and "other expenses."
Young's father, Bob Young, who traveled from Michigan to be at his son's side, said his son's legal fees have topped $25,000.
The state, and not the county, covers the tab. The judgment is forwarded to the state's risk management office and the money typically is appropriated during the next legislative session, attorneys said.
(Much more detail)