Drug case dismissed because of evidence problems, though Nevada County prosecutors say they’ll refile | SierraSun.com
Alan Riquelmy
ariquelmy@theunion.com

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Drug case dismissed because of evidence problems, though Nevada County prosecutors say they’ll refile

Michael David Habig, having secured two wins in court rulings on his drug case, had all charges against him dropped on Thursday, Aug. 10.

Habig, however, likely will face new charges, as the prosecutor in the case said she’d refile accusations against him.

Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Hotaling’s decision to dismiss all charges against Habig stemmed from two rulings by Superior Court Judge Robert Tice-Raskin. The judge ruled in May that a search warrant written by Nevada County Sheriff’s Office Detective Jason Mackey listed an incorrect address, which meant evidence gained in the search couldn’t reach a jury.

Prosecutors in late May argued Tice-Raskin should reconsider. The judge declined, ruling that he had no power to change his decision. Additionally, he said prosecutors failed to argue that Mackey’s error should be overlooked because of “good faith” — that the warrant was served based off probable cause, despite the clerical error.

“I think she’s stuck with the ruling,” said defense attorney Greg Klein, who represents Habig, after the Thursday hearing. “Whenever I reach this stage, they dismiss, they’re done with it.”

Assistant District Attorney Chris Walsh, who didn’t attend the hearing, said refiling the case enables prosecutors to make the “good faith” argument. They also can reintroduce the evidence previously tossed by the judge, though he could again rule it couldn’t reach a jury.

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“When we dismiss and refile, it’s like we start over,” Walsh said.

Habig is one of a handful of defendants who have argued that Mackey either purposely falsified or erred when writing search warrants.

An internal investigation into Mackey found no misconduct.

Klein said he believed Mackey made an error in Habig’s case, though he faults prosecutors for pursuing charges on a bad warrant.

“You’re taking people’s liberty away in this game,” Klein said.