The Davis County Commission agreed Monday to pay a former corrections officer for the legal fees he incurred defending himself on two assault charges. The fee issue went all the way to the Utah Supreme Court, which split in its April ruling.
The commission agreed to an offer by David L. Samon's defense attorney to settle for $28,139.95 because challenging it would only add to the county's bill. Deputy County Attorney Jerry Hess recommended accepting the offer.Samon, a former deputy sheriff who worked in the Davis County Jail as a corrections officer, was charged with assaulting a prisoner and another corrections officer in 1992.
He fought the charges, both Class A misdemeanors, and was eventually acquitted after two separate trials. His two defense attorneys, Elizabeth Dunning and Mary Woodhead, submitted a bill of over $16,000 to the county for successfully defending Samon.
The county appealed both the amount of the legal bill and whether it is obligated to pay it. The appeal went first to 2nd District Judge Brent West and eventually to the Utah Supreme Court.
West agreed the legal bill was too high, ordering a $7,500 settlement, $4,000 for one trial and $3,500 for the second. He also ruled the county is responsible for Samon's original legal defense bill but not the bills he accumulated in the appeal process.
The court divided, upholding West's ruling on the $7,500. A split court reversed West's other finding, ruling the county is responsible for the legal fees Samon in-curred during the appeal process.
Although they agreed the county should pay for Samon's appeal, four of the five Supreme Court justices wrote separate opinions on their ruling.
Further appeals or legal filings will only add to the bill, Hess told the commission, recommending the $28,000 settlement.
"If we take it back to the court again, the county faces the dilemma of having to pay more legal fees for taking her back to court," Hess said. "We'd just be digging the hole deeper and deeper."