A travesty of justice- the story of Galina Shull: Part 3- The Trial

On February 8, the same day that he was arrested, Mark Shull’s mother posted bail for him and he was released from jail.

On February 16, 2011, Mark Shull’s attorney, Kenneth Kissir, entered a “not-guilty” plea for him and requested a jury trial.

On March 3, 2011, Mark Shull went to trial, with Judge Michael S Loy presiding. This was a judge-only trial; no jury was present. The trial lasted about an hour. The prosecutor was Dirk Schouten, who introduced himself as a “certified law student for the state.” Shull, on the other hand, was represented by a seasoned family-law attorney with 15 years of experience.

Galina appeared with an interpreter. Throughout the trial, she spoke softly in Russian and the interpreter translated. When asked what she had received in the mail on February 8, she responded that she got two pieces of mail- the package of candy and note sent by Mark Shull and a letter from Shull’s lawyer stating that he was contesting the restraining order.

The package in question

When Prosecutor Schouten attempted to introduce the package in which the candy was mailed as evidence, Kissir objected, stating that the postmark on the package was “hearsay evidence,” and thus the package could not be admitted as evidence. Approximately 45 minutes of the entire trial were taken up by a discussion of whether postmarks are “hearsay evidence,” and the judge obviously sympathized with Shull’s lawyer. There has been a tremendous amount written in legal journals about whether postmarks are “hearsay” (or second-hand) evidence. Every article I read stated that postmarks are an exception to the hearsay rule (often called a “residual exception”) and are admissible as evidence. (See, for example, Hanson vs. Commonwealth.)

The discussion then moved to the package of candy and the note. Of relevance was that Galina, who had been prohibited by the shelter where she lived from giving out its address to anyone except a few agencies, was not aware that when she filed the restraining order a copy of it, including her address, would be given to Shull.

Kessir then began the cross-examination. He pressured her about if she had received any mail at the shelter from anyone other than the permitted agencies (she had not.)

With that, Galina’s testimony was finished and the court called Deputy Levi Yandell of the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, who had investigated the restraining order violation and interviewed Shull in jail. He repeated the story of how Shull had stated “Anyone could mail a package from Sandy…” when Sandy had not been mentioned in his interview and Shull’s admission that his nickname, used in the note, was “Tiger.”

Schouten then wrapped up his case, stating that Galina had received the package, mailed from Sandy, at an address that very few people other than Mark Shull would know, containing a note with a nickname Shull was known to use, and that it was unreasonable to assume that anyone else had sent the package.

Kessir replied that “who sent it is a big unknown” and that the state “had not come close to proving that it was sent by Mr. Shull.” He returned to the postmark, saying that there was no evidence of when the package was sent.

When the testimony was over, Mr. Loy spent no time whatsoever deliberating. “Not guilty,” he said, with no explanation, and immediately moved on to his next case.


Part 4 will cover Mark Shull’s attempt to overturn the restraining order against him.


Sources

Audio file of case 110241407 provided by Multnomah County Circuit Court Records Department, March 3, 2011