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. 

 

 


Police Seek Lookout Mountain Man, 73, Missing Since Friday; Van Reportedly Found At Trion

The Dade County Sheriff's Department is looking for Freddie Wooten, 73. Mr. Wooten was driving a 2002 Ford Windstar minivan with the license plate number, THM1418. He was last seen wearing a light blue shirt and navy pants. His van was reportedly found in a pool in Trion, Ga., with no sign of him. Anyone who has seen Mr. Wooten, or has information regarding the case, ... (click for more)

Dog Saves Woman From Fire At Highway 58 Area

A homeowner reported that her dog saved her life early Friday morning. At 12:52 a.m. , the homeowner called 911 reporting a fire at 8411 Providence Road (Highway 58 area). The Highway 58 Volunteer Fire Department responded and arrived reporting a log cabin with flames coming through the roof. Firefighters worked quickly to contain the fire, but it was a challenge due to  ... (click for more)

Don't Be Quick To Discard Common Core

Let's not be too quick to discard Common Core. A recent article in the Tennessean on  Sunday detailed Common Core successes the Kingsport, Tennessee school system.  I encourage you to read it.  The article also noted that Tennessee was recently ranked as one of the fastest improving states in education after implementing portions of the Common Core curriculum ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: UVa --Time For Change

The University of Virginia is, by any measure, one of the finest universities in the world. I have long admired it, whether covering dozens of sports events, cavorting with countless friends, or benefitting repeatedly from the surgical skills of the late world-class humanitarian Frank McCue. But today there is a terrible pall over “Mr. Jefferson’s university” – no, make that a ... (click for more)

Football Mocs Receive No. 8 Seed For FCS Playoffs

The hugs, high fives and first pumps by the Tennessee at Chattanooga football players late Sunday morning let everyone know in Moc Nation that the Blue and Gold had received a highy-coveted seed and would be hosting a second round NCAA FCS playoff game Dec 6 at Finley Stadium at 1 p.m. "When the television announcers called our name as the No.8 seed (out of eight ... (click for more)

Missouri Hangs On, Turns Back Tennessee, 29-21

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Missouri pin-pricked Joshua Dobbs’ bubble of invincibility Saturday night at Neyland Stadium. The nationally ranked Tigers drove a stake in Tennessee’s heart with Maty Mauk’s 73-yard touchdown pass to Jimmie Hunt in the fourth quarter, held Dobbs in check most of the game and beat the Vols, 29-21, before 95,821 fans on a chilly night on the banks of the Tennessee ... (click for more)