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Dear Mr. Lionel C. Henning,

It is unsurprising that having decided to avail yourself of your constitutional right to proceed pro se, in other words to represent yourself, this “motion to dismiss” has arrived on my desk in quite so dismal a state of legal and semantic confusion. The more surprising fact is that you claim, amongst other things, to be a writer by profession. Is your repeated use of “we” in reference to your “defense team” designed to hoodwink the court, or do you invoke that pronoun in the regal sense? Either way, the result is genuinely baffling.

As I and state prosecutors have reiterated ad nauseum, if you were to obtain proper legal counsel and, under their guidance, took a sober look at the very generous plea deal proposed in light of your lawsuit against Vail PD for police brutality, you might still walk away from this imbroglio free of the State of Colorado’s custody, and only a few tens of thousands of dollars lighter, which, to a man of your alleged means, is but an inconsequential slap on the wrist, I’m sure.

I am not one for ultimatums, but if you continue to pursue this bizarre legal strategy and persist in being so profligate with my time, I will have no choice but to add punitive contempt of court to the two pre-existing charges, for which the combined maximum sentence in Colorado is nine years’ incarceration.

Conscious of the fact that you have somehow avoided any meaningful interaction with the U.S. penal system, let me assure you that prison is, was, and will forever remain, a place inconducive to the extraction of oneself from a funk, or for that matter, the raising of two beautiful children. Allow me to suggest to you that these noble goals, rather than such theatrical, amateurish auto-advocacy, ought exclusively to constitute your animuses once this matter is finally behind you.

Yours sincerely,

The Honorable Nathaniel Albright, Judge, Fifth District Court

P.S. I enclose a largely unread copy of your “motion,” in the hope that one day you might use this wretched document as a means of profound personal and moral contemplation.

Fifth District Court, Colorado, Case 4996-223, the State of Colorado v. Lionel C. Henning on counts of Class 4 Felony Criminal Negligence & Class 1 Misdemeanor Harassment.

Dear Judge Albright,
Below is a succinct summary of the defense team’s preliminary findings in this case, centering on the so-called “nosedive on Eagle’s Nest Ridge.” As such it constitutes our petition for immediate dismissal of both charges on the grounds of no case to answer, as per Chapter 25 of The Colorado Rules of County Court Procedure, Rule 341 A (2). We hope that our slender experience in the law has neither impaired the readability of the motion, nor the legal logic contained within.

Persons of Interest:
Persons of interest in this case are considered to include but are not limited to the following, all of whom the defense reserves the right to call as witnesses, hostile or otherwise, in the exceedingly unlikely event that we proceed to trial. We contend that the inconsistency and bald untruth of several witnesses’ statements amounts to sufficient grounds for his Honor to dismiss, so reference will be made to these throughout.

  • Mia Page, plaintiff, a twenty-seven-year-old ski instructor and seasonal Vail resident, former Olympic slalom hopeful and Miss Wyoming contestant, of dubious memory and/or integrity but of surprisingly blemishless repute in both her home state and here in the relevant jurisdiction of Colorado;

  • Max Lindauer, forty-nine of West Hollywood, will likely be known to his Honor and as the former Vice President of finance at two leading movie studios based in Los Angeles, both of which ceased production with what the L.A. Times, in a much syndicated piece, termed “a staggering number of aggrieved creditors,” of no criminal convictions but at the time of the alleged incident a litigant in two major civil suits now concluded in his disfavor;

  • Barbara Lindauer, thirty-two, wife and cohabitant of Max L., former beautician and antique furniture dealer, at the time of the alleged incident of no gainful employment, but in possession of at least two prior convictions for petty larceny in the State of Michigan;

  • Lionel C. Henning, defendant, thirty-nine, of San Luis Obispo County California, movie director and screenwriter of international standing, philanthropist and single father of two young children, of one dubious conviction for Possession of a Controlled Substance (to wit cocaine) in the State of New York, another for DUI in the State of California, but of otherwise splendid standing in the community. His Honor may refer to an article in the Hollywood Insider entitled “The Very Model of a Modern Major Director,” (September 6, 1974) for proof of both Mr. Henning’s upstanding reputation and the impressive extent of his charitable endeavors, here enclosed as addendum 1.

Uncontested Facts:
Following exhaustive, occasionally combative consultation with County Prosecutors, we can furnish his Honor with the following suite of Uncontested Facts:

  1. Lionel C. Henning, henceforth to be referred to as “the defendant,” a longtime friend Mr. Lindauer and Mrs. Lindauer, spent March 14-20, 1985, as a guest at their luxury Vail chalet.

  2. This trip was arranged so that the trio could ski, dine, and consume elite level wines in each other’s company for a duration of up to ten days, this with a view to extracting the defendant from a “lingering funk” (Mrs. Lindauer, 2) brought on by the emotionally recent, unilateral dissolution of his marriage by his ex-wife seven years prior.

  3. It is considered improbable that this longstanding “funk” or depression could, even in the wake of aggravating factors in Vail, have precipitated or morphed into a “full-scale nervous breakdown” (Miss Page, 7). Please refer to the two psychological reports gratefully and expensively obtained from Doctors F.M. Baumbacher of Los Angeles, and P. Manson of Denver for affirmation, attached here as addenda 2 & 3.

  4. With the intention of rectifying the defendant’s inferior competence on the slopes compared to his experienced hosts, and with a view to “giving [the defendant] a tasty little something to distract him in the meantime” (Mr. Lindauer, 4), the instructional services of Miss Page (an admittedly attractive specimen as well as highly competent skier) were solicited by Mr. Lindauer as a gift of friendship.

  5. As Miss Page was duly contracted, from 8:30am until lunch between March 14 and 20, the defendant accompanied the plaintiff up and down ski slopes of increasing difficulty across the Vail resort, in that time working up from the “relatively forgiving gradient of Gopher Hill, a baby slope really, to some trickier blue runs for intermediate skiers” (Miss Page, 1).

  6. During Miss Page’s seven-day program, the defendant demonstrated a deep capacity for coping with the vicissitudes of downhill skiing: “It genuinely shocked me how motivated Lionel (the defendant) was. It was odd but he seemed so determined, or at least unaffected by the consequences of failure, however painful. He wanted to impress me, I could tell.” (Miss Page, 2).

  7. The defendant’s comportment was often gentlemanly, if at certain specific moments highly and unconventionally enthusiastic, throughout the many hours he and Miss Page spent together on The Front Side and Back Bowl sections of the Vail Ski Resort. Miss Page’s initial observations as to the defendant’s character were indeed exclusively complimentary: “He seemed like a nice guy, a little intense, but nice-ish. It turned out I’d seen one of his movies.” (Miss Page, 2).

  8. At no time during the twenty-eight hours that the defendant and Miss Page spent alone in each other’s company, whilst addressing the defendant’s “poor snow acumen” and “mild to moderate balance issues” (Miss Page, 2), did the defendant overtly suggest, mime, or in real terms initiate, actions of the kind that could be conclusively determined as indecent, or otherwise outside the pre-established bounds of the ski-teacher and ski-pupil paradigm.

  9. Having “creepy eyes,” or an “odd, lingering leer” is not, in fact, sufficient grounds to allege a “generally lecherous disposition,” (Miss Page, 3).

  10. The defendant is currently undergoing a course of ophthalmological treatment at the French Hospital Medical Center, California for a newly discovered stigmatism.

  11. Some significant fraction of the alleged instances of “inappropriate” physical touching that preceded the “nosedive on Eagle’s Nest Ridge” are inadmissible as evidence of harassment, irrespective of whether this touching occurred on the shoulder, hand, lower-back, lower-lower back regions or once on the zone of the bosom. When conducting ski lessons with even the most tenacious novice, some degree of physical touching must reasonably be anticipated by both parties, given the frequent and sudden need for bodily stabilization and braking whilst zooming down the snow-covered side of a mountain.

  12. Considering Miss Page’s athletic prowess, attractive, well-maintained appearance and previous stage experience, it was completely above board for the defendant and Miss Page to, on no more than three occasions, discuss the slim possibility of her obtaining a minor role in one of the defendant’s upcoming motion pictures, subject to normal, vigorous casting procedures.

  13. Conversations in the vein outlined are commonplace between men in the motion picture business and those interested in entering it. As such, these discussions having occurred cannot, regardless of who first broached the topic, be considered a mode of “coercive seduction” (Miss Page, 5).

  14. It is generally known and thus readily conceded that, at certain times, in regrettable contravention of The Colorado Ski Safety Act 1967, Title 33, Article 44, Subsection 109 (Duties of Skiers – Penalties), paragraph 9, the defendant did indeed “move uphill on [a] passenger tramway [and] use [a] ski slope or trail while [his] ability to do so [was] impaired by the consumption of alcohol.”

  15. Being in contravention of any such civil statute has only limited bearing on these criminal allegations.

  16. At the defendant’s firm but nevertheless gracious invitation, on March 20 Miss Page joined the defendant and Mr. and Mrs. Lindauer for what had become their regular “boozy lunch” (Mrs. Lindauer, 4) at the Elk’s Head Tavern beside the Show Boat ski run.

  17. Most lunch attendees affirm that the meal proceeded amicably, without discord or rancor of any kind, at least up to a point.

  18. All parties left the Elk’s Head Lodge at or around 4:00pm.

  19. At or around 4:32pm on March 20, at the sheer right-hand fork where Eagle’s Nest Ridge suddenly becomes the piste Lodgepole, the defendant, as the result of a miscalculation by one or both parties involved, collided at some significant velocity with Miss Page, causing the breakages she sustained to her left clavicle and wrist.

  20. At 4:35pm, an altercation, initially verbal and subsequently physical in nature, occurred between the defendant and local law enforcement.

  21. That because of this altercation, rather than of the preceding ski crash, the defendant sustained two broken ribs, electrocution injuries and a head trauma now thought to be the cause of his chronic and psychologically crippling tinnitus.

Contested Period:
What will shortly be related is a scant aggregate of several conflicting and equally patchy testimonies as to events between 2:30pm and 4:37pm on March 20, 1985, which his Honor is implored to treat with a healthy, hefty, degree of skepticism.

  1. 2:30pm – In transit, peak-bound on the Gondola One ski lift - That the way the defendant invited Miss Page to join him, Mr. Lindauer and Mrs. Lindauer for lunch at the Elk’s Head Lodge was in some way pushy or consciously manipulative. Whilst the defense remains open to the theory that the defendant’s enthusiasm and professional admiration of Miss Page could easily have been misinterpreted, we reject out of hand the allegation that the defendant chose the ski lift as a location for this invitation because the plaintiff was a “captive audience… with nowhere to run” (Miss Page, 8).

  2. 2:32pm – Still in transit on Gondola One - That the defendant produced during the ascent a “weird little hipflask like [Miss Page’s] grandad once had, which smelled like rum” (ibid). 

  3. 2:33pm – Still in transit on Gondola One – That the defendant accused the plaintiff Miss Page of being “a bit of a prude” who would be “really beautiful if she just lightened up and learned to enjoy herself” (ibid). The defendant is an award-nominated screenwriter, and so would be unlikely to resort to such trite, crude overtures even had seduction been his real intent.

  4. 2:35pm – Still in transit on Gondola One – That, after a “profoundly awkward silence lasting as long as two minutes,” as additional inducement to attend lunch at the Elk’s Head Lodge, the defendant reiterated to Miss Page, in terms even stronger and more concrete than over the preceding few days, his intention, should certain specific criteria be met, to cast the plaintiff  in a well-renumerated albeit minor role in a forthcoming movie.

  5. 2:36pm – Disembarking Gondola One – That the “prolonged and slimy” way the defendant is alleged to have interacted with the plaintiff’s knee and lower thigh area prior to dismounting the Gondola One Ski Lift was anything other than a reflex, in other words an entirely understandable attempt by the defendant to steady himself as the gondola safety bar came up.

  6. 2:38pm – On the Mid-Vail Ski Flats – That the defendant, due to this admittedly prolonged but entirely misconstrued episode of “nonconsensual” touching, dismounted the gondola with a “bulging fatty” (ibid), which he sought to hastily rearrange so that it might evade detection.

  7. 2:40pm – On the Mid-Vail Ski Flats – That the plaintiff agreed to join the defendant for lunch only if the following conditions were met: A) that he would verbally guarantee the casting of Miss Page in his forthcoming movie Old December, specifically in the role of Penelope McGovern, a boisterous waitress and former lover of the protagonist (to be played by a handsome up-and-coming actor with a sound relationship to the Church of Scientology!) and B) That the defendant’s ski classes with Miss Page would cease immediately after the lunch had concluded. The tone of this conversation has been maliciously misrepresented.

  8. 3:00pm – At a table for four in the Elk’s Head Ski Lodge – That immediately upon being seated the defendant ordered a round of four vodka martinis, stating to a bemused server: “Now I can ski, I feel like James Bond” (Mrs. Lindauer, 3).

  9. 3:07pm – Elk’s Head Lodge – That, having taken receipt of the four cocktails, and having ascertained, following “prolonged badgering” that the plaintiff would not partake in the martinis due to her post-prandial skiing responsibilities, the defendant imbibed in “two gulps the clear contents of both his and her glasses” (Miss Page, 8).

  10. 3:15pm – Elk’s Head Lodge – That subsequent to the arrival of the seven-cheese fondue, the defendant ordered several bottles of vintage champagne (Louis Roederer Cristal Millesime Brut, 1980), totaling “by the end of proceedings to about five bottles” (Mr. Lindauer, 3). As the receipt submitted as defense evidence item 1 will attest, only four bottles were ordered, and we maintain that only three were fully consumed.

  11. 3:46pm – Elk’s Head Lodge – That after consumption of the fillet steak, celeriac puree and wild mushroom reduction main course, which the defendant “insisted on ordering for everyone, entirely ignoring [Miss Page’s] objections on the grounds of [her] vegetarianism and lifelong aversion to fungi” (ibid), the defendant attempted, whilst still wearing ski boots, to instigate a game of “footsy” with the plaintiff. To do this whilst still wearing footwear of that bulk would be a lunatic act given that the tactile and thermal insulation ski boots provide would render any such caresses entirely mute, sensationally speaking.

  12. 3:48pm – Elk’s Head Lodge – That, following a brief spell of “whispered antagonism” (Mr. Lindauer, 3) between her and the defendant following the pedestrian misunderstanding established in point 11, Miss Page got angrily to her feet and said in a raised voice: “That’s it you dick, I’ve had enough, or words to that effect” (Mrs. Lindauer, 4).

  13. 3:50pm – Elk’s Head Lodge – That Mr. Lindauer had to “half hug, half restrain” the defendant as he tried to convince restaurant staff that the defendant need not be ejected from the premises (Mr. Lindauer, 4).

  14. 3:51pm – Elk’s Head Lodge – That at no moment during the scuffle that ensued, did the defendant profess to not having “been touched, not held by a real woman, I don’t mean a whore, in all the years since [his] miserable fucking wife left him” (Miss Page, 8). 

  15. 3:55pm – Returning to Mid-Vail – That Miss Page then “fled the restaurant as soon as was convenient” (Miss Page, 8) and that the defendant “pursued her outside like a rabid hound” (Mrs. Lindauer, 4). Both parties left the scene in an entirely conventional fashion, and at no great speed due to the continued wearing of ski-boots.

  16. 4:00pm – The Wildwood Express Ski Lift (embarking) – That the plaintiff, so to “evade Lionel’s whimpering clutches,” hastily retrieved her skis and mounted a nearby ski lift (Miss Page, 9). No such escape was necessary, as the defendant was merely seeking to offer Miss Page a final, generous tip in gratitude for over a week’s good services and to apologize again for the regrettable, although entirely innocent misunderstanding that had taken place during lunch.

  17. 4:00pm - That the plaintiff was not justified in asserting that the defendant would be “too terrified to follow me up to the top, where the only way down is a really demanding black diamond slope with off-piste optional sections” (ibid), because, in fact, he did just that, desiring not to chase Miss Page, but put to the test his newfound confidence on the snow.

  18. 4:00pm – 4:07pm - The Wildwood Express Ski Lift (ascending) - That, whilst strapped into separate but nearby gondolas, during which time something resembling a minor blizzard had formed overhead, did the defendant begin to “alternate spasmodically between the shouting of incandescent obscenities” and “pathetic terms of endearment” (ibid).

  19. 4:08pm – The Wildwood Express Ski Lift (summiting) – That, having arrived at the top of the mountain, the plaintiff took off “as fast as [her] skis could safely carry [her] down Eagle’s Nest Ridge,” with the defendant “snarling seconds behind,” in “slobbering, almost cartoonish pursuance” (ibid).

  20. 4:08pm – 4:12pm –Eagle’s Nest Ridge (descending) – That the defendant was “hot on the tails” of Miss Page (ibid) for a period of several minutes, while Miss Page concentrated solely on affecting her escape from “[the defendant’s] manic clutches” (ibid).

  21. 4:15pm – Eagle’s Nest Ridge (descending) – That, “ski instructor instincts kicking in despite everything,” Miss Page slowed and then inverted her skis so that she was in fact travelling backwards, so to more effectively implore the defendant to desist as by then his conduct posed a “real danger to himself and others” (ibid).

  22. 4:15pm - 4:25pm –Eagle’s Nest Ridge (descending) – That, in what now “clearly constituted potentially lethal, blizzard-like conditions” (ibid), did descent down the mountainside slow to a “miserable crawl.” Nor, during this time, did Miss Page attempt to dissuade the defendant from any further winter sporting activity that day, or ever, and, for that matter, his “deluded fantasizing about the names of their impossible offspring” (ibid).

  23. 4:25pm – 4:30pm –Eagle’s Nest Ridge (descending) – That the plaintiff, seeing no further point “morally or emotionally” in continuing her coaxing, decided to take off at “full race speed and take the hairpin-like right turn onto the notoriously steep slope known as Lodgepole,” certain that this would constitute a final, “vertiginous obstacle to [the defendant’s] demented wooing” (ibid).

  24. 4:30pm – Where Eagle’s Nest Ridge meets Lodgepole – That the defendant, in a forlorn attempt to match Miss Page’s speed, began “windmilling his ski poles, and tangling up his feet” until he was tumbling head over heels, in a “snowy maelstrom or vortex moving at absurd velocity,” finally coming to a stop only after “nosediving” (ibid), into or onto Miss Page.

  25. 4:30pm – 4:35pm – The Mouth of the Lodgepole Ski Run – That, inertia eventually achieved only after a loud collision with a conifer, the defendant sat “blubbing, shivering, but otherwise apparently unharmed, liberally drinking from a hipflask” whilst Ski Rescue Services arrived and began providing first aid to Miss Page who lay in a heap nearby (ibid).

  26. 4:36pm – The Mouth of the Lodgepole Ski Run – That the defendant, “probably due to his excessive, ongoing drinking and poor visibility due to snowfall” tried, when hauled to his feet by an off-duty Colorado Ranger now in attendance, first to embrace and then passionately kiss the officer in the mistaken belief that he was “a lady called Mia” (Patrolman Kleber’s statement to Vail PD, 1).

  27. 4:37pm – That, due to the defendant’s “inebriate derangement, aggression, and his unstoppable groping of [Patrolman Kleber’s] person,” overwhelming force was justifiably administered whilst placing him under arrest, including clubbing him with a sizeable log and eventually the employment of two tasers” (ibid). The notion that such extreme violence was required to “subdue” the defendant is but the final snowflake of untruth amidst the wider avalanche of disingenuousness and sleaze that constitutes the prosecution case, which we hereby demand be thrown out wholesale.

The defense rests.

© Diggory Dunn 2023  

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