Claremore Daily Progress

October 7, 2013

Judge unseals petition signatures, denies DA’s motions

Salesha Wilken
Staff Writer

CLAREMORE —

Grady County District Judge Richard Van Dyck ordered the sealing of the Rogers County Grand Jury Petition signatures to be vacated without granting a motion filed last week by District Attorney Janice Steidley and her two assistants.
“In the interest of justice and transparency...” Van Dyck changed his ruling sealing the signatures while sternly denying the motion filed last week.
The order contained strong language concerning the motions filed on behalf of  Steidley and assistants Bryce Lair and David Iski, the movants, by attorney Joel Wohlegmuth of Tulsa.
“Mr. Wohlegmuth alleges that there was ‘collaboration between Mr. Singer and Judge Van Dyck before the Motion to Seal was filed,’” Van Dyck wrote. “This is a total false statement...Mr. Wohlgemuth’s reckless disregard to the truth will not be tolerated by this Court.”
Van Dyck further claims the movants through Wohlgemuth violated Rule 15 of the Rules for District  Courts of Oklahoma by requesting the judge disqualify without first making an in camera request of the judge.
“Mr. Wohlegmuth failed to contact this judge prior to filing the motion which included a rquest for this judge to recuse,” Van Dyck wrote. “This can only be taken as an attempt to embarrass and bully the judge.”
Van Dyck said the movants have no standing in the case and the motion to seal was properly verified by petitioner John Singer. He wrote that the movants failed to file an entry of appearance in the case until after the motion to seal was filed.
“Counsel cannot be offended he didn’t recieve notice,” Van Dyck wrote. “The Court is not clairvoyant.”
The judge verified Singer’s motion was filed correctly and prior to the issuance of his order to seal the signatures.
The DAs’ motion accused Singer, Rogers County Court Clerk Kim Henry and Van Dyck last week of improperly handling the case.
 A motion to stay or stop the certification of the verification of the petition signatures was denied and the signatures will remain private, until they are returned to Henry by the end of the week.
Van Dyck states the movants failed to state an applicable law which provides for their authority to verify the signaturesc citing state law which charges only the election board with the task of determining the number of qualified signatures.
Van Dyck denied the DA’s request for a hearing. The Judge however did schedule a hearing for 1 p.m. on Oct. 18 to rule on the convening of a grand jury investigation in Rogers County in anticipation of the election board’s certificaiton of the petition this week.
The hearing will be in Room 6 of the Rogers County Courthouse and is open to the public.
The grand jury petition is requesting the investigation into actions of Steidley, Iski, Lair and Assistant DA Tim Wantland, as well as Rogers County Commissioners Kirt Thacker and Mike Helm.