CUSTER COUNTY— The case against Custer County Attorney Steven Bowers has brought up more questions than answers. After months of motions, refilings of amended complaints, and decisions taken under advisement the case against Bowers has been dismissed. For now.
According to court documents, the Attorney General’s Office, represented by Gail VerMaas, filed a notice to appeal the decision by County Judge Jeffery Wightman after he granted motions by Bowers and his attorney Michael Borders which resulted in the charges being dismissed.
According to Judge Wightman’s ruling in count I, the state failed to prove that Bowers “knowingly violated any statute or lawfully adopted rule related to his official duty.” Judge Wightman continued, stating that the Nebraska Supreme Court has granted broad discretion on which cases to prosecute. Failing to prosecute any individual case is not a basis for the violation as VerMaas is alleging in the charges.
In count II, VerMass alleged that Bowers committed obstruction of government operations by obstructing the District Court Judge from performing his or her official duties by preventing the sentencing of Sean Newman.
Judge Wightman states in his ruling that the state must provide specific evidence to show that Bowers intentionally obstructed government operations, which also allows him to properly defend against the claim. The complaint must set out what these false statements were, which it has not.
In count III, VerMass alleged that Bowers deceived Sean Newman, the Custer County Sherriff’s Office, and the Custer County District Court while in the position of Custer County Attorney. Judge Wightman ruled that the Custer County Sherriff’s Office and the Custer County District Court are not a “person” and thus they cannot be deceived.
It is also noted in the judge’s ruling that it appears VerMass is alleging that Sean Newman is being oppressed by Bowers, by Bowers seeking to prosecute Newman for his crimes and then failing to complete the prosecution.
According to court documents, Judge Wightman gave VerMass ten days to file a fourth amended complaint against Bowers. After failing to do so, he dismissed all charges.
Following the decision of the judge, VerMass filed a notice to appeal the decision. The case will now be heard in Custer County District Court.
NET’s Bill Kelly attempted to contact the Attorney General’s Office but was told no comments will be given while the case is under appeal.
This is a continuing story.