TULSA - For the first time, embattled District 12 DA Janice Steidley has granted a one-on-one interview to discuss accusations leveled against her by a number of law enforcement agencies in her district.
She sat down exclusively with KRMG in her office at the Rogers County Courthouse late Tuesday morning.
She says the issue basically comes down to an attempt by police and deputies to do business as they've always done it, while she has insisted on following the letter of the law when it comes to filing criminal cases.
She cited case after case of "incomplete reports" on the part of investigators, and says she and her assistant district attorneys have to return those reports and request more information.
In one specific case referred to by Claremore Police Chief Stan Brown, where he claimed it took her office five months to file charges, she responded in detail.
"Chief Brown put a letter in front of the camera of how a victim had to wait five months for us to file a case, and how they felt that they gave us what they considered to be a strong case. Again, that comes to the issue of law enforcement wanting to control what the District Attorney's Office is doing."
She says the report was first reported March 23, and police investigated on March 24.
The DA's office received the report on May 29, and reviewed it on June 17, at which point they noticed something troubling about an interview with the suspect.
"The suspect voluntarily spoke to the officer, and the officer allowed the suspect's girlfriend to ask the questions in Spanish to the suspect, and then interpreted back to the officer in English what the suspect had said. Now, if you consider that a solid case, I'll argue with you all day long."
They sent the case back to the officer that same day, June 17, requesting a qualified interpreter hear the recording of the interview and translate it.
No response came from Claremore PD, she says, so they sent a second request on July 11 requesting the same information.
Chief Brown called their office on August 1, and asked how he could find an interpreter, and Steidley said they emailed him the name of the interpreter, with a phone number and email address, that day.
The report came back on August 27, and they approved charges two days later.
"Again, another misrepresentatation, a distortion of 'it took the DA's office five months to file a case.'"
Moreover, she points out, the interpreter discovered that the girlfriend was neither asking the same questions the officer had asked, nor accurately translating the answers given by the suspect.
Had they gone to court without the accurate translation, the case could have easily been thrown out.
The main incident that inflamed law officers though was when Steidley questioned Claremore Officer John Singer's credibility as a witness, and disclose her doubts to defense attorneys.
But in court documents obtained by KRMG, Singer admitted under oath in a federal court in 2010 that he had damaged a patrol car in a wreck, then lied and said he had hit a deer, going so far as to put deer hair on the grill to back up his story.
Steidley says she and her prosecutors have to disclose any information like that, or risk being disbarred.
Singer has claimed Steidley was simply trying to ruin his reputation, that she was concerned about his criticism of her conduct as a DA, and the possibility that his wife might run against her in a future election.
"Politics?" KRMG asked. "Yeah," she answered.
"Good ol' boy network?" asked our reporter. "Absolutely," Steidley said.
With a petition for a grand jury to investigate Steidley circulating in Rogers County, an OSBI investigation at the request of several agencies now ongoing, and a lawsuit filed by Singer, Steidley has her hands full, but says she continues to work on cases.
Meanwhile, KRMG has also obtained a letter from District 10 DA Rex Duncan which states clearly that Chief Stan Brown's statement in the September 4 news conference that "no Oklahoma District Attorney will pursue charges against Singer for perjury" was either completely false, or taken out of context.
Duncan's letter goes on to say that the OSBI has not been fully cooperative with the investigation into Singer, and even assigned an investigator who knew Singer when he specifically requested on who had no connection to Singer.