Update March 19th, 2009: Scott Phillips pleads no contest to one count of disorderly conduct. Details HERE.
Payson City Councilman Scott Phillips, accused of assaulting two teens who he said were vandalizing his truck, has pleaded not guilty of assault and has asked for a jury trial. Phillips was cited on June 16th with two Class B misdemeanors of simple assault after police said he grabbed two teens on May 10th. Stories published September 23rd, 2008 by the Deseret News and the Salt Lake Tribune.
Phillips told police that the teens, about 18 or 19, were trying to spray paint his truck, and he only grabbed them and used restraining force to get them to stop. He maintains he did not hit them. However, Spanish Fork prosecutors said that there was no evidence of graffiti on the truck. The two teens in question claim they were not vandalizing the truck; one of them, who is black, played the race card and accused Phillips of using racial slurs toward him.
Phillips and his attorney, Gregory Hadley, entered the not guilty pleas in 4th District Court in Spanish Fork and asked for a pretrial conference. Phillips has also asked for a jury trial, but Judge Howard Maetani deferred that issue until the next hearing, scheduled for October 27th. If found guilty, Phillips could face a maximum penalty of a $1,000 fine and six months in jail. The case is being pursued by prosecutors in nearby Salem rather than in Payson to avoid any perception of conflict of interest.
Update November 14th: Scott Phillips must now wait until December 18th for his trial. The reason was 4th District Judge Howard H. Maetani was ill, prompting the cancellation of court hearings for the day.
Good to see that Phillips is going all out to fight these charges. Although it will take a chunk of change, he's forcing the system to either put up or shut up. Too bad this doesn't happen more often.