Summarized by Kent Larsen
Gardner pleads no contest
Deseret News 12Nov99 D2
By Edward L. Carter: Deseret News staff writer
PLEASANT GROVE, UTAH -- LDS Church member and Utah County Commissioner
David J. Gardner pleaded no contest on Friday, ending nine months of
legal uncertainty and positioning. In the March 22nd incident that led
to the plea, Gardner lost control of his car, ended up in a field which
his car set on fire, and burned his feet trying to stomp out the flames.
Blood-alcohol tests showed that Gardner was over the legal limit.
However, while both of the two blood-alcohol tests given to Gardner
showed that he was legally intoxicated, the results differed
significantly, allowing Gardner's defense to attack their credibility.
This weakness allowed the case to be settled. "If you have two blood
tests that deviate so drastically, then you've got a problem with one of
the tests," said Juab County attorney David Leavitt, who prosecuted the
case. But Leavitt is confident that Gardner was, in fact, intoxicated,
"In my judgement, if Mr. Gardner had immediately been arrested and taken
to the first hospital we would be having a very different result."
Gardner's no contest plea is recorded on the books as a conviction. But
a condition of the plea requires that the conviction be withdrawn and
the case against him dismissed if he has no further alcohol-related
offenses in the next nine months.
Gardner will also pay a $300 fine, be on probation and continue
alcohol-related counseling as part of the plea.
Critics in Utah County maintain that Gardner got a sweet deal, letting
him off with a clean record and allowing him to stay in denial about a
personal problem, "I don't think with the hitchhiker story, the fire and
the blood alcohol level, a Geneva Steel worker would've got the same
treatment," said Utah County Democrats chairwoman Nancy Woodside. "I
think it is a different standard. I think that's obvious to anyone who