Ex-'Laguna' star Jason Wahler's trial tabled for criminal-past appeal
By John Bracchitta, 09/03/2008
Jason Wahler's past still seems to be stuck in the present.
Daniel Wagner, the attorney representing plaintiff Dario Stevenson in a civil assault-and-battery trial involving Wahler, had been granted a suspension to appeal a recent court ruling by Los Angeles Superior Court Justice Elizabeth A. Grimes prohibiting the use of details regarding Wahler's criminal past in court, E! News reported Tuesday.
The civil trial had been scheduled to begin on Tuesday.
Stevenson alleges that he was "roughed up" by the former Laguna Beach star in September 2006 during a verbal and physical altercation that began after a car Wahler was traveling in was blocked by Stevenson's tow truck as he was attempting to impound another vehicle.
E! News also reported that Wahler's car almost "clipped" both Stevenson's tow truck and a police vehicle driven by Officer Jonathan Wallace and that Wahler allegedly used the N-word during the incident.
Both Stevenson and Wallace are black.
Wahler eventually plead no contest to one count of battery and received a two-month jail sentence that was later converted into a rehab stint over the incident, however Wallace and Stevenson both ended up filing civil lawsuits over the altercation. Wallace's lawsuit -- which accuses Wahler of assault, battery and violating Wallace's civil rights -- was filed in August 2007.
Among the details of that Wahler wants prohibited from the trial resulting from Stevenson's suit is his April 2007 arrest for assault and criminal trespassing in Seattle, a 2006 conviction for resisting arrest and bribery following a bust in New York, and his alleged use of the N-word during his altercation with Stevenson and Wallace.
The Seattle arrest resulted from an incident in which police were called after Wahler allegedly punched a security guard in the mouth after receiving numerous warnings to stop wrestling in the lobby with a friend, fled the scene, and was later found passed out in a third-floor hallway "smelling strongly of alcohol," according to the incident report.
Wahler eventually plead guilty to charges of assault and a minor exhibiting signs of intoxication and received a 30-day jail sentence.
"[Wahler] was arrested in New York and in Seattle as a result of incidents not remotely related to this lawsuit," his lawyers argued in their initial motion to have the evidence suppressed, according to E! News. "Such evidence should not be allowed to reach the jury inasmuch as it would only constitute evidence of character which is inadmissible."
Grimes ruled in favor of Wahler on August 25, but did not issue an opinion on Wahler's alleged racially insensitive remarks directed at Stevenson.
Wagner argued that Grimes' ruling should be overturned because of her blocking of Wahler's past, but allowance for the defense to use a 1991 embezzlement conviction of Stevenson in their defense of Wahler.
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Wahler's former girlfriend Kristen DeLuca, who was a passenger in the car with Wahler at the time of the incident, agreed to pay a $3,000 settlement with Stevenson last month, according to E! News.