Jury Finds In Favor Of Texas Sheriff In Suit Brought By Chattanooga Photographer

Friday, August 22, 2014 - by Hollie Webb

A Federal Court jury on Friday found in favor of a Texas sheriff and his chief deputy who had been sued by a Chattanooga photographer.

The jury in the courtroom of Judge Curtis Collier awarded no damages to Donna Johnson.

In his closing argument after a two-week civil trial, attorney John Anderson said, "This is about the Fourth Amendment." Attorney Anderson represented Ms. Johnson, who sued Sheriff David Duke and Chief Deputy Alan Boyd of Wichita County, Tex.

, for allegedly having her arrested without probable cause.

Sheriff Duke testified earlier that his department made payments, but did not get their photos after months had past. He said he spoke with other sheriff departments, who told him they had the same experience.

However, attorney Anderson said when Ms. Johnson was arrested on Nov. 30, 2011, the Wichita County Sheriff's Office did not have enough information for probable cause.

He said, "What you won't find in this file is when they had the information...Either there was a rush to judgement and they were sloppy in this file, or that was standard procedure at the Wichita County Sheriff's Office."

He said much of the information in the file on Ms. Johnson used to get an arrest warrant was added months later.

Attorney Anderson also said employees from the Sheriff's Office admitted that they would tell people there was not a warrant out for them when there actually was in order to bring them in.

He said, "It's either ok to lie or it's not."

He told the jury, "I'm going to submit to you Nov. 30 is the date you stop considerations. Everything after that is backfill."

He continued, saying law enforcement must be held to a higher standard. He said, "It's never ok for the Sheriff's Department to lie."

However, defense attorney Jerry Tidwell said, "Even if a person was found not guilty does not mean there was not probable cause...Absolute certainty is not required."

He said, "There is probable cause...They're putting all of the information in there that's needed. It's just the format isn't pleasing to the plaintiff because she got arrested because of it."

He continued, "The fact that a date or amount may be incorrect does not eliminate probable cause."

He told the jury to take Ms. Johnson's life experiences into consideration when they judged her credibility.

He said she had lied about her education on multiple occasions, once telling an employer she graduated from the University of Florida and another time saying she graduated from Cleveland State Community College.

Attorney Tidwell also said, "She said somebody broke into her office and stole checks, but she didn't cancel her checking account or anything like that."

He said at one point, she said her father had passed away and that was the reason she had not finished her promised photographs. However, Attorney Tidwell said her father is currently alive and living in Bradley County.

He closed his argument, "I think it's time to close this out. I think you need to send this lady home empty handed. I think you need to end this hustle."

The jury left to deliberate Friday afternoon.

It was an expensive trial for Wichita County, which had to call a special meeting of its county governing body to approve the costs. 

 

 


Grand Jury No Bills And True Bills

Here are the latest no bills and true bills from the Hamilton County Grand Jury: No Bills: MOSELY, DAVID B 42 M 0 1 GS 1564071 DRUGS GENERAL CATEGORY FOR RESALE OTUBO, CAROL W 43 F 0 1 CO 14496458 CONSPIRACY TO COMMIT THEFT OF PROPERTY PATTERSON, MICHAEL WADE W 39 M 0 1 GS 1557598 CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY SMITH, JASMINE ALTERRIA B 24 F 0 1 GS 1562887 DISORDERLY CONDUCT True ... (click for more)

Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: AMALIO, ANGELO JOHN 6405 THORNAPPLE LAKE RD #218 NASHVILLE, 49073 41 Hamilton County VIOLATION OF PROBATION (AGG. ASSAULT) VIOLATION OF PROBATION (AGG. ASSAULT) VIOLATION OF PROBATION (PUBLIC INTOXICATION ) AUDIER, ROBERT RT 2 BX 279 RINGGOLD, 44 Chattanooga DOMESTIC ASSAULT RESISTING ... (click for more)

Shelley Andrews Will Be Missed

Shelley Andrews was one of the kindest, most thoughtful and most effective laborers in our community.  Her work with the Friends of Moccasin Bend was exemplary.  She listened, she learned and she led with dignity and class. Her brave battle with ovarian cancer was a testament to her positive spirit and commitment to her work on behalf of the people of this region. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: He’s Exempt From Drunk

I love the old story about a popular Senator who, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, was asked late one evening, “Sir, what if we get bombed?” to which came the quick reply, “I’d be absolutely delighted … I can get one of my aides to drive us home afterwards.” You think of stuff like that when word comes from Kentucky that state legislator Brandon Smith was caught driving erratically ... (click for more)

Libby Peigen Named Soddy-Daisy Volleyball Coach

Libby Peigen, daughter of Ooltewah coach Elaine Peigen, has been named head volleyball coach at Soddy-Daisy, replacing Lorri Johnson. Peigen had been head middle school and assistant varsity coach at East Hamilton before taking over the Lady Trojans' program. She played volleyball at Ooltewah and Lee University. The announcement of Peigen's hiring was originally posted ... (click for more)

Hamilton Heights' Duran Commits To MTSU

(Story will be updated) Hamilton Heights wing Joan Duran has made a verbal commitment to Middle Tennessee State University. Duran, a 6-foot-6-inch senior, has been instrumental in the Hawks’ highly successful season. Duran and Hamilton Heights (22-2) will participate in the prestigious Huntington (W.Va.) Prep Classic this weekend. The Hawks will play Arlington Country ... (click for more)