Keith Meyer eye-rolled, gestured and scoffed Thursday as he defended himself through an unusual first day of testimony at his assault trial.

The 71-year-old former Davenport alderman stood up Thursday morning to give an opening statement, nervously shaking as he belted out a Bible verse before introducing himself as a licensed winery operator and pointing to an old picture of a judge hanging on the courtroom wall, calling him a family neighbor from long ago.

As Meyer continued, Assistant Scott County Attorney Will Ripley objected, calling the opening “irrelevant” to the charges that Meyer fetched a shotgun from his house and pointed it at his neighbor last year.

“You’re objecting to my opening statement?” Meyer asked.

The objections mounted after that; there were at least 40 throughout the day.

Meyer’s opening statement also was interrupted when a juror became ill and vomited in the courtroom. The juror was allowed to return.

Meyer, who has partial hearing loss, often talked over objections and witness testimony. A court reporter is transcribing the trial proceedings for Meyer to read on a computer screen in real time.

With no defense lawyer, Meyer is allowed to approach witnesses on the stand. At one point, he came within a foot of his alleged victim, John Fahs, while holding a stick pointer and asking where Fahs was standing when police arrived on Nov. 11, the date of the incident.

He referred to himself in the third person as he asked questions.

Among the objections by Ripley was that Meyer often asked questions beyond the scope of testimony. At one point, a two-minute redirect by the prosecutor became a 40-minute cross-examination by Meyer. His cross-examination of Fahs lasted an hour and a half.

Some of the questions seemed to have nothing to do with the trial.

“Do my dogs like you?” he asked Davenport police officer Randall Gard, who was on the stand. He also asked Gard if he played for the Vikings, possibly referring to the Minnesota pro football team.

Witnesses either couldn’t understand some of Meyer’s questions or seemed startled by them. There was plenty of “I’m sorry, could you repeat that,” “I didn’t understand the question,” “Is that your question?” and “Can I answer that?” coming from the witness stand.

Meyer showed Gard a photo that Fahs took of him Nov. 11, showing Meyer with his shotgun strapped over his chest.

“Is this a photograph of a person demonstrating the right to bear arms or threatening someone?” he asked Gard. Ripley objected to the question.

Meyer had to be reprimanded at least once for not following court rules.

While cross-examining Gard, Meyer referred to his statements to police that he never pointed the shotgun at Fahs. But when given the opportunity at his opening statement to deny that he pointed the gun, he didn’t.

Instead, he claimed his was a case of “self defense” and argued that the victim was the one who had been attacking him and his guests over the years and damaging his property.

“The victim has endangered the safety of people coming to visit the defendant,” Meyer said.

Fahs testified that on Nov. 11 as he was going home, he passed Meyer and could hear the defendant swearing at him.

Meyer wanted to know exactly what the swear words were.

Then Fahs testified that he grabbed a camera and whisk broom to take pictures of a speed bump Meyer was building on a driveway the two share. That’s when Meyer went back to his house and got his shotgun, Fahs said.

“Did the defendant point the gun at you?” Meyer asked. Fahs said yes.

Meyer remarked in his opening statement about his disability.

“If you put your finger in your ear as you listen to me, you’ll hear what I hear,” he said.

Before the trial began, Meyer raised a concern that he is not being allowed access to his laptop computer for use during the trial. He later reiterated that concern in front of the jury before the judge interrupted him.

“I’m sorry, but a pro se (person representing himself) is not allowed to bring electronics into the courthouse,” Meyer told the jury while cross-examining Fahs.

Meyer is charged with assault while displaying a dangerous weapon and faces two years in prison if found guilty of the aggravated misdemeanor.

During a break, a Quad-City Times reporter asked Meyer why he chose to represent himself.

“I have a right to,” he said.

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(33) comments

Bulldog5874

The Quad City Times should be ashamed. This is tabloid style news that reflects very poorly on the city of Davenport.

QCSmartLady50

Slow news day at the QC Times? Why do you give this unfortunate, dimented man this much press?

Devin H
Devin H

Its an interesting story. --- And in regard to the laptop, I believe he has access to a county computer, so if he has files, he could just copy them onto a flash drive, correct?

HA HA
HA HA

@twiggy- Great post and explanation about the laptop issue. Brief research done via the pro se handbook, Iowa criminal code, and Iowa courts website references nothing about this topic and leads me to believe that you are spot on with the sheriff/bailiff not allowing the laptop in the court room. The issue with this is that the pro se handbook cites “ YOU WILL BE HELD TO THE STANDARDS OF A LAWYER”. If defendant attorneys and C/As are allowed the luxury of a laptop why isn’t it an equal playing ground for Meyer. It seems to me that the Court likes to make things more difficult for a pro se defendant. Other case study shows that defendant laptops (without cameras) have been allowed in the courtroom upon proper inspection. Meyer likely prepared his argument in an electronic format versus the paper shuffle. It is a travesty and borderline unjust for Scott County to flex their preverbal might on Meyer who appears to be adequately prepared. These games shouldn’t have to be played. Our judicial system should be in place to assist people not make it difficult to represent themselves. Not everyone can afford an attorney or even a court appointed one that you have to pay on the backend. I hope twiggy is right about the jury empathizing with Meyer.

twiggy
twiggy

They are held to the "same standard" does not mean they get to bring a laptop. Then you say the judicial system should assist people to represent themselves. WRONG!!! The court does NOT assist. The Defendant who represents himself is "held to the same standard" End of story. Do you really believe this is the first time this fella has been in court? I suspect the judge has told him previously he can't have a laptop. He wants preferential treatment. I am not familiar with the Scott County court system. I know the Sheriff runs the Courthouse. I know a judge gets to run her/his courtroom. My guess, and it is only a guess, the judge has asked him previously why he wants a laptop and he gave an answer that was not convincing enough. He does NOT have a "right" to a laptop in court. Nor a cell phone, nor an e-reader. I suspect those decisions are made on a case by case basis. And it in no way will be an appealable matter. Games? The one playing games is Mr Meyer. He is perfectly within his rights to represent himself. But he should not and will not get preferential treatment because he decides to do so. Civilians it appears, are not allowed to bring a laptop into this judges courtroom. He is a civilian. If he could have given a valid reason as to why he needs it he would more than likely have it in court. This guy seems to be about the notoriety rather than justice.

cd1001

No defendant gets to bring a laptop to court. It's not decided on a case by case basis.

billy hoyle

lol - threw up in the courtroom and still couldn't get out of jury duty

billy hoyle

The ironic thing about Mr Meyer's hearing loss is that he LOVES hearing himself talk. I wish, wish, wish I was able to skip work and attend this trial. It sound hilarious. Alas, the comments section will have to do for entertainment

Billyboy56
Billyboy56

I think Keith has a right to defend himself for what he perceived as a threat.

The verdict will tell if the law agrees.

BUT Keith, there's a courthouse adage: A person who represents himself has a fool for a client.

cd1001

He doesn't have the right to go into his house, get a gun, come back out and threaten someone with it. That's not self defense.

cd1001

No defendant gets to bring things into their trials that can be used to contact the outside world. No one would want a gang leader who threatens or harms witnesses to have access to e-mail and text during his trial, even if he is acting as his own lawyer. If the gang leader can't have it, Keith Meyer can't have it either. You have to tread them the same, and I think it's smart to treat them like defendants rather than like lawyers regarding computers.

CGE
CGE

If/when he gets burned by Scott County it will be his own stupid fault. He said more than once the cops were lying about his case and performed an illegal search. Now in court he admits he carried over a shotgun. Seems like he is the liar!
He is not a lawyer (or even a good alderman) and for his own good should not be representing himself.
Making a show out of everything is him game, so glad he is out of public service!

iowalittledog

CGE: Meyer's should get an attorney, u r right. Meyer's might not have been a good alderman, that's your opinion. Pretrial press coverage or statement made by both parties have no barrings on a case, they are said to get people to feel a certain way or to take a certain side. Not sure if you understand this or not but in America we are suppose to convict based on evidence entered into record in a court of law. Not what a person said or didn't say prior to trial.

ExQC911

He has said the cops were lying and performed an illegal search and that he carried a shotgun - all said in court.

ChamPain
ChamPain

I don't understand why an attorney would be able to bring his laptop (or cell phone for that matter) into the courthouse but a citizen representing themself can't. Seems like an unfair double standard.

twiggy
twiggy

If you think about it, it is not unfair. It is the Sheriff who says what can be brought into the courtroom. Here is a reason the assistant CA would need to have a laptop and the defendant would not. The ca is hooked up to the courthouse network. He can communicate with his office and request documents etc re email. He can print documents from his laptop, which he may need, and have them brought to him. He can check the CA database for info he needs. He has a valid reason to need his laptop. The defendant can not print, or communicate with anyone, on his computer. He can not check anything. Any documents he wants he can bring into the court.

gcgphoto

If the CA can use a computer then the defendant should also be allowed to also! Both the CA and defendant should have equal rights/liberties. Perhaps the defendant needs to cite a case that he does not have a copy of with him.

People in the media bring electronic devices into the courthouse all the time. This all start when Judge Bobbi Alpers got ticked that people were not turning off their cell phones and incoming/or outgoing calls were interrupting her courtroom. I would be upset too, but there are better alternatives.

This has not been challenged in court, but if this issue, by itself, were challenged the restriction would not survive.

getinvolved

Would you be saying that if the defendant were a gang leader who has been known to intimidate or hurt potential witnesses? I doubt it.

getinvolved

CAs don't send e-mails during trials. They have everything they need for the trial in boxes or a briefcase, depending on how much evidence, reports and notes they have.
The public isn't allowed to bring in electronics for safety reasons. This includes defendants, of course. They don't want defendants, victims, their families, etc., sending out messages during their trials because suddenly you have a bunch of angry people storming into the courthouse for a fight when texts and e-mails go out in the middle of a trial or hearing. Attorneys are not allowed to send out such messages that can rile people up, and their ability to work requires that they follow the rules. But you can't control a non-attorney in the same way you can control an attorney who must follow the rules or lose his means of making a living.

iowalittledog

Come on Judge. Why does an attorney get an computer? Did I miss something when the constitution said a fair trail? Level the playing field. This is a great ground for an appeal. I hope Meyer's preserved the issue by objecting. If I were Meyer's I would have ask for another delay because he could not present his case. An attorney has no more rights at trial then a defendant in fact most courts give a defendant more room than an attorney. The problem I see is the cost to appeal will be higher than the cost of hiring an attorney. Often judges will make a decision knowing the only way that decision comes into play again is if someone appeals. Can anyone find any case law on this issue? The State attorney is really under pressure here if they lose the state attorney will always be remembered as the attorney who lost to a pro se person representing himself. So you know the state attorney will bring their (A) game

ExQC911

County attorney not State attorney!!!

getinvolved

They always bring their A game.

HA HA
HA HA

@senor citizen and the shermanator....please enlighten us with your legal prowess and educate us on why Meyer isn’t allowed to have his laptop in the court room.

Sherman

I'm not doing your work for you.... look it up... do the research, its the only way you learn.

twiggy
twiggy

My guess as to why he can not have a lap top is because the sheriff says so. It is the sheriff who runs the courthouse. Mr Myers may be representing himself, but he is NOT an attorney and does not receive the same benefits an attorney does. Nor should he.


I think it is quite possible jury nullification will take place in this one. Juries tend to feel sorry for "poor old guys, representing themselves" It generally works to their benefit. The "mean old state is going after that poor fella". In spite of the evidence, juries often find on the basis of sympathies rather than the law. The CA has an obligation in a case like this, involving a gun, to prosecute.


I can guarantee the County Attorney is NOT out to get him. His type pop up in every court and are a hassle. But he has a right to a trial and is getting his.

gcgphoto

twiggy, the sheriff's department only enforces it. Judge Bobbi Alper wrote that rule.

getinvolved

Having seen Meyers in his wacky little world, I don't think any juror is going to feel sorry for him and decide to go easy on him. By the end of it, they're going to hate him and want to do more to him than the law allows, haha.

twiggy
twiggy

you could be right. He comes off in the media as quite the "eccentric" to put it politely.

Sherman

Well..., all those people commenting on other articles about this trial speculating that the QCT and the police were making it all up that Keith even had a shotgun out that day can now put that argument to rest. He admits that and even admits he pointed it at his neighbor.

Also, those of you who do not understand court procedures, as applied by the Judge, should really read up on what one can and cannot do during a crimnal trial.

HA HA
HA HA

@Shermanator- you have no idea what you are talking about do you?

senor citizen

Sounds to me like you have an axe to grind and are using Mr. Meyer's trial as a public forum. He certainly doesn't need your input to add to his troubles. Representing yourself is foolish and you and Mr. Meyer both fit the dfination of a fool.

gcgphoto

Why would a person representing them self pro se NOT be allowed to have a laptop in the courthouse/courtroom? A person representing them self should be allowed the same powers as a licensed attorney in this issue. Sounds like automatic grounds for an appeal if he should lose.

HA HA
HA HA

I commend Alderman Meyer for representing himself. However, he will get buried by the good ol’ boys at Scott County. I’m sure they’re just foaming at the mouth. That said, its good that idiot Paul Macek is in Muscatine now and not hearing this case or Meyer would be really SOL!! Hope things turn out well for Alderman Meyer.

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