Portofino Defense attorney says, “We may have to pry open the juvenile proceedings’’ in case brought by battered teen

A still image captured from video showing Robinson pulling Gates bag, which he’d reportedly searched twice.

Posted online: March 1, 2018

LEXINGTON – The case of Queen Zion Gates against Portofino’s Restaurant owners and restaurant manager Michael Robinson is due back in court Friday, March 2 at 11:00 a.m.

This appearance is not the trying of the case, yet.

March 2nd is yet another hearing before Judge Pamela Goodwine for the defense to continue their relentless pursuit of sealed juvenile records.

The appearance is in preparation for a defense claim of immunity from prosecution.

In a July interview after a court appearance, Defense Atty. Aaron Silletto said that a motion of absolute immunity would be entered on behalf of his clients Michael Robinson and his employer Port Restaurants.

“Commonly referred to as stand your ground law,’’ said Silletto, “most people don’t realize that the same statue also applies to property. There was a reported theft and my client was acting to stop that reported theft.”

Gates’ original complaint states the teen and her sister were given permission by Robinson to change clothes inside Portofino restaurant after completing a photoshoot in Downtown Lexington. Upon exiting the restroom Robinson asked to search their bags for an alleged missing jacket. The Gates allowed Robinson to look in the bag(s), then “Robinson turned his attention to the other teens’’ and the Gates sisters left.

As the teens walked away down Main Street, Robinson pursued them. Gates stopped and allowed Robinson to look into her bag again insisting she did not have anything that did not belong to her.  The contents of Queen’s bag spilled throughout Downtown Lexington as she fled and Robinson searched Gates’ bag twice without the jacket having been seen but punched and attempted to detain her according to witness accounts.

Police accounts confirm that the alleged missing jacket was never seen in Queen’s possession nor found the night of Nov. 5, 2016.

Three teens were charged for various offenses related to the alleged theft. Due to the confidentiality afforded minors accused of breaking a law, the outcome of the investigation into the teens participation is sealed.

Queen Zion has consistently proclaimed her innocence and did not participate in nor confess to participation in any crime while in the building where Portofino is located.

“We may have to pry open the juvenile proceedings,’’ said defense Atty. Richard Getty in July 2017. “If [the juvenile judge] found her guilty of a theft or other charges, then that is telling proof with respect to our defense. We’ll see what is produced under the subpoena to the police department.”

The Juvenile judge has denied the defense teams motion to obtain the juvenile court documents and Lexington Police have refused the request for juvenile information.

Now the defense team is asking Judge Goodwine to do what the other court and the police won’t.

Silletto said, “There are all kinds of protections that this court could put in place to protect the confidentiality of the minor and make sure that Michael Robinson and Portofino are afforded due process.”

The defense motion to be heard March 2 is for “certain juvenile court documents’’ and Lexington Police “investigative materials that gave rise to the litigation.”

According to court documents filed in response, Gates Attorney William Davis believes he has presented enough factual evidence for the court to rule that Robinson is not immune from prosecution and this case should move forward.

Davis will argue that an immunity defense is based on what Robinson knew at the time he used physical force on Queen back in November 2016.

“…it stands to reason that what the police uncovered after weeks of investigation was unknown to Defendant Robinson at the time of his alteration with the Plaintiff on November 5, 2016. Likewise, the same holds true when it comes to the juvenile court records. The [focal] point of this immunity defense has to be on what Robinson knew at the time of his altercation with the Plaintiff . You don’t establish probable cause based on what happened after the police officer has taken the action.”

Facts stated in Atty. Davis’ response.

On November 5, 2016, (a) Robinson did not see the taking of the jacket; (b) Robinson was not told that Queen Gates was seen taking the jacket; (c) Robinson did not have the jacket in his possession when it was taken; (d) Robinson did not see the jacket in anyone’s possession when it was taken; (f) Robinson was searching for the missing jacket during all of his physical interactions with Queen Gates according to the LPD’s Press Release dated 12/14/2016; and (g) Robinson never saw Queen Gates with the jacket in her possession.”

Atty. Bill Davis, a solo practicing attorney, will argue this civil case against Robinson in Circuit Court.

“In my professional opinion, the Defendants’ attempts to secure confidential records and inadmissible files of law enforcement have unduly delayed the court proceedings to the detriment of my client’s case and justice!”, said Atty. Davis.

The restaurant manager, Robinson, is defended by a team of six attorneys, three from the Getty Law Group in Lexington and three more from Goldberg Simpson in Prospect, KY. Portofino is represented by Goldberg Simpson.

All civil proceedings are held in open court. Next date: Friday, March 2, 2018 11 a.m. District Court.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login