David Lane, attorney for Balloon Boy dad Richard Heene, says he doesn't have enough fingers to plug all the info leaks coming from the office of Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden. On Friday, Alderden released documents showing that Mayumi Heene, Mrs. Balloon Boy, had confessed that the whole runaway balloon tale had been cooked up for publicity purposes two weeks before it happened. It was a move guaranteed to get under a defense lawyer's skin, and it certainly did in this case. "It's clear that the sheriff is intent on getting this family convicted in the press," Lane says.
Still, he's arguably even more upset by Alderden's revelation that both his office and the Larimer County Department of Social Services is investigating whether the Heene children, including six-year-old Balloon Boy Falcon Heene, are safe in the family home - and he's taking specific action for what, in his view, is criminal behavior on Alderden's part. "We're going to be sending out a letter today asking that somebody in the DA's office take a look at the sheriff for divulging information about a child-abuse investigation," he notes. "That's a misdemeanor."
The level of leakage in the Heene case is unprecedented in Lane's experience, he maintains. "All I can speak about is my situation, but I've been doing this for thirty years, and I've never seen an affidavit in support of a warrant released to the public before an arrest is made," Lane insists. "And I've never seen a sheriff release confidential information in violation of the law about an ongoing child-abuse investigation. That's certainly not going to help the DAs with their case."
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That doesn't mean Mayumi's interview could be stricken from the official record, though. "You can't unring the bell," Lane concedes. However, he continues, "in seeking a sanction of dismissal, because they're completely incapable of getting a fair trial given the widespread circulation of these comments, that could be the relief that's sought."
Last Monday, Lane surmised that charges against the Heenes could come down within hours. At this point, though, he has no idea how long things will drag out. "The DA's office is telling us they need to sort through everything - and the sheriff still hasn't given the filing to the DA. They haven't even looked at it yet, so it's very difficult to guess" when accusations might be formalized," Lane says now.
In the meantime, Lane is hoping his letter will put at least a partial halt to the details spilling out of Larimer County. As he puts it, "We're trying to stop all of these leaks that are entirely prejudicial to the Heenes' ability to get a fair trial down the road."