Judge orders DA’s office to hand over e-mails in Stern civil case

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by Courtney Zubowski / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on July 27, 2012 at 6:07 PM

Updated Friday, Jul 27 at 6:44 PM

HOUSTON—A Harris County judge has ordered the District Attorney’s Office to hand over e-mail communication between the office and attorneys for the former mistress of Bellaire lawyer Jeffrey Stern.

This development is just the latest in the two- year-old saga that stems from the murder-for-hire plot against socialite Yvonne Stern.

On Friday, Michelle Gaiser, the woman accused of planning three attempts on Yvonne Stern’s life, pleaded guilty to solicitation of capital murder and received a 20-year sentence for the crime.

Her plea came on the heels of an announcement earlier in the week that prosecutors were dropping charges against Gaiser’s former lover, Jeffrey Stern, who is Yvonne Stern’s husband.

Prosecutors initially charged Jeffrey Stern with solicitation of capital murder, claiming he was the mastermind behind the plots, but on Tuesday said they don’t have enough evidence to go forward with that case at this time.

As the criminal cases come to an end, a civil case against Michelle Gaiser is still going strong.

Yvonne Stern is suing her husband’s former mistress for the pain and suffering she says she had to endure after the three attempts on her life, once in which she was shot in the stomach.

"Mrs. Stern is far from done," said her attorney, Chip Lewis.

According to Lewis, Stern doesn’t want money, but rather answers.

Stern and her lawyers believe the District Attorney’s Office and attorneys for Michelle Gaiser worked together, tried to shape testimony, and shared strategy to try and get a conviction against Jeffrey Stern.

Yvonne Stern’s attorneys want all e-mails between the District Attorney’s Office and Gaiser’s attorneys. They don’t want to hand them over, but a Harris County judge ordered them to anyway.

"I think it’s safe to say when we get our hands on those e-mails, there will be an eye-opening discussion between the prosecutor and the lawyer for the criminally accused hit lady," said Lewis.

"The judge, Robert Schaffer, he is the gatekeeper of the evidence. He has heard all of the arguments. He has seen all their resistance. He’s looked at the e-mails and said they’re relevant, there’s a reason to turn them over."

Defense attorney James Stafford, who represents Michelle Gaiser, said all you will find in the e-mail is mainly communication about scheduling.

"You are going to have to have several cups of coffee to keep yourself awake when you start reading these because they are about as boring as boring," Stafford told KHOU 11 News.

The general counsel for the District Attorney’s Office said he will hand over the e-mails on Monday.

"The records are not going to reflect any kind of misconduct or inappropriate behavior on the part of the District Attorney’s Office or counsel for Michelle Gaiser," said Scott Durfee.

As to why attorneys didn’t hand over the e-mails when first asked by Stern’s attorneys, Stafford said he didn’t want to set a precedent for future cases.

"As you look at me in the face would you want to turn over all of your e-mails just because they want you to? No," said Stafford.

 

 

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