A county Circuit Court judge dismissed drug and assault charges against a Brooklyn Park man yesterday because a court commissioner, and not a police officer, served the man's charging documents.
Wade T. Hobbs Jr. was arrested during a July 17, 1989 traffic stop on Ritchie Highway at Church Street in Brooklyn Park, court records show.
After a county police officer observed a "metal smoking pipe" in the glove box of the car, Hobbs was searched and a small bag of suspected marijuana was found in his pocket, records show.
Hobbs, 30, of the 4700 block Pennington Ave., later kicked a county police sergeant in the arm while being questioned, records show. Hobbs was charged with possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and battery.
But when his trial was called yesterday before county Circuit Judge Lawrence H. Rushworth, Assistant Public Defender J. Michael Wachs argued that the case should be dismissed because Hobbs was improperly served his charging papers.
Wachs said a District Court commissioner over-stepped his bounds by serving the charging document. The defense attorney said the law allows only police officers or sheriff's deputies to serve such papers.
Rushworth agreed, saying, "The purpose of the law is to not have an impartial judicial officer doing work that is supposed to be done by the police or the prosecuting office."
In dismissing the case, however, Rushworth noted, "I guess it makes little difference as a practical matter."
The defendant, having never been formally charged, still could be charged with the crime and not be able to claim double jeopardy.
After Hobbs left the courtroom, Rushworth said, "Your client was smiling Mr. Wachs. He doesn't realize he's going to spend the next few hours down at the commissioner's office."