HAMILTON – A Stevensville man who claimed police brutality in a recent drunken driving arrest in Missoula said Wednesday he now plans to take legal action against the Ravalli County Attorney’s Office.
But before that happens, Jeffory Alan Lafield, 52, will have to find a new lawyer.
Public defender Louis Villemez asked Ravalli County District Judge Jeffrey Langton to take him off Lafield’s case, citing a “complete breakdown in communication.”
Villemez is the fifth attorney from the Montana Office of Public Defenders assigned to Lafield’s case since 2013.
On Wednesday, Lafield made his initial appearance on a second petition to revoke a suspended sentence for a 2013 Ravalli County conviction of fourth DUI and assaulting an officer.
Lafield was out on bail while awaiting court action on a first petition to revoke his five-year suspended sentence when he was arrested Nov. 15 in Missoula for DUI and assaulting an officer.
The charges from that incident were included in the current petition to revoke his suspended sentence.
Lafield denied all the allegations Wednesday, but he didn’t stop there.
He told the judge that he planned to seek legal action against the Ravalli County Attorney’s Office for releasing his confidential presentence investigation report to the news media.
“They are well aware that is a criminal and civil violation,” Lafield said. “There is going to be legal action sought in the matter.”
A Ravalli Republic and Missoulian story last week did quote a section of Lafield’s 2013 presentence investigation report that was included in the affidavit in support of the second petition to revoke his suspended sentence.
That petition is a public document. The newspapers were not provided a copy of Lafield’s presentence investigation report.
When Lafield attempted to push the judge into making some determination on the “illegal actions of the prosecutor,” Langton replied that it was not an issue for Wednesday's hearing.
“It is an issue,” Lafield said. “It’s showing her willingness to break the law.”
Lafield also took offense when Ravalli County Public Defender Ron Piper stepped forward to answer questions from Langton. He said the two are not on good terms.
“Mr. Piper keeps inserting himself on my case and that’s a reason for conflict,” Lafield said. “He is prejudiced against me and I’m prejudiced against him. ... I would prefer that he does not open his mouth in my case again.”
Lafield also asked Langton to order that he be housed in Missoula rather than be moved back and forth between jails in that city and Hamilton.
“I seriously see the charges in Missoula being dismissed in the near future,” Lafield told the judge.
On Wednesday, Deputy Missoula County Attorney Shaun Donovan said the charges in Missoula are still pending.
“The evidence I have seen in this case is solid, and I have no plans to dismiss or reduce the current charges,” Donovan said.
In addition, Donovan said Lafield’s criminal history appears to make him eligible for treatment as a persistent felony offender.
At the conclusion of Wednesday’s hearing, Lafield directly asked the judge about the potential of reducing his bail.
Villemez then made one last request on Lafield’s behalf. Saying Lafield had a job waiting for him and a place to stay in Ravalli County, Villemez asked that his soon not-to-be client could be released on his own recognizance with alcohol monitoring.
When Lafield was arrested in Missoula for DUI and assault on an officer in November, his bail conditions were exactly the same.
Langton directed that Lafield continue to be held without bail.