Judge Fails To Find Sufficient Reason To Charge Shawn Rich

Inside the Northeast Regional Correctional Facility on Thursday, Jan. 6, 2021, Shawn Rich appears through video conference for a Caledonia Superior Court arraignment.

ST. JOHNSBURY — A judge ruled in Caledonia County Superior Court on Wednesday that a police report failed to adequately justify a recent charge against Shawn Rich.

Judge Timothy Tomasi said he could not find probable cause to charge Rich, 43, with the crime of violating a court-ordered curfew.

St. Johnsbury Police had arrested Rich on Tuesday, stating that he was found in violation of a court-imposed, 24-hour curfew. Ofc. George Johnson said Rich was seen leaving his residence on Tuesday. Due to past criminal charges Rich is under a 24-hour curfew. According to the officer, Rich was a passenger in his own vehicle that traveled on three different roads in St. Johnsbury.

Rich was cited to appear in court on Wednesday. He was in the courtroom for the hearing.

Attorney Sam Swope, on Rich’s behalf, argued that there wasn’t sufficient probable cause to support the charge because the curfew condition allows for employment. This, Rich contends, was why he was away from his residence.

Caledonia County State’s Attorney Jessica Zaleski argued that the question of whether there was a violation of a court order is for the jury to decide. Her assertion was that Rich was in a vehicle that “made a beeline” back to his residence when spotted by police.

The judge agreed that there wasn’t enough information from the police to challenge the assertion that Rich was out because of work, but he left the door open for the charge to come back around if the state gets more evidence that Rich’s actions away from his curfew residence were not related to employment.

Rich was recently jailed for a short time, but posted bail in a case in which he is accused of stalking and violating a restraining order.

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