Pubdate: Tue, 28 Jan 2003
Source: Associated Press (Wire)
Copyright: 2003 Associated Press


SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Fourth District Judge Ray Harding Jr. has lost an 
attempt to have drug evidence against him thrown out of court.

"I'm looking forward to trial in March," Harding said following the 
evidence suppression hearing Monday. "I'm sure justice will prevail."

Harding's trial on felony drug charges is scheduled for March 18 before 3rd 
District Judge Timothy Hanson, who ruled Monday that law enforcement 
officers acted properly in obtaining a warrant to search Harding's Highland 

Hanson also ruled that the trial will be held in Salt Lake County to 
facilitate empaneling an unbiased jury.

Harding, 49, was arrested and charged with two counts of third-degree 
felony drug possession - cocaine and heroin - after his wife, Anne Harding, 
called police to their home last July 13.

Telling police her husband had been using drugs all night, Anne Harding 
gave officers a bag of white powder she said was cocaine. After a field 
test indicated positive for cocaine, police obtained a search warrant and 
found more white powder, as well as straws, spoons and tin foil purportedly 
used to smoke and snort drugs.

The state Crime Lab found no drugs in the bag of powder but did find drug 
residue on two plastic drinking straws that were in the bag with the 
powder. A criminologist testified Monday that residue from the straws could 
have accounted for the positive field test of the powder.

Defense attorney Edward Brass claimed the search warrant was obtained under 
false pretenses.

Assistant Utah Attorney General Michael Wims claimed the officers acted in 
good faith based on the field test and other evidence, such as Ray 
Harding's shaky and disheveled appearance and his wife's allegations.

Hanson said the warrant was supported by the totality of what police had 
observed at Harding's home. He said the warrant was not invalidated just 
because the white powder turned out to be something other than drugs.

"A field test is precisely that," Hanson said. "If they were infallible, we 
wouldn't need a crime lab."

Hair samples taken from Harding later tested positive for cocaine and 
heroin. Harding has been on paid administrative leave since his arrest. 
Between July and September he spent three months in drug-abuse therapy at 
the Betty Ford Clinic in California.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom