Federal Lawsuit Says Judge Who Is "Boss Of Meigs County Courthouse" Ordered Woman In Hallway Arrested

  • Monday, June 10, 2024
Judge Casey Stokes
Judge Casey Stokes

A federal lawsuit says a General Sessions judge in Meigs County, while in a hallway of the courthouse in street clothes, ordered a woman to be drug tested, saying he "guaranteed she would be dirty."

The suit says the woman, Hannah Ashbrook, was taken into a bathroom and given 30 seconds to give a urine sample. It says the sample was then tossed, and the judge, Casey Stokes, on his own accord entered a judgment that Ms. Ashbrook be held in the jail for 10 days for "contempt."

The complaint, filed by attorneys G. Scott Kanavos and H. Franklin Chancey of Cleveland, Tn., says Judge Stokes is considered "the boss" of the Meigs County Courthouse "with final decision-making authority resulting in constitutional deprivations of its citizens" because law enforcement and other employees "customarily follow the verbal directives given by Judge Stokes without question."

Ms. Ashbrook is suing Judge Stokes, Sheriff Jackie Melton, probation officer Carol Petitt and deputy Ben Christian for compensatory and punitive damages.

The suit said Ms. Ashbrook was at the courthouse on the second floor on May 11 "to conduct lawful, private business." It said she was not causing any issues or misbehaving when the judge appeared and ordered the testing. It said at the time she was asking deputy Christian for directions.

The complaint says Ms. Ashbrook was embarrassed and frightened and she immediately dropped to the floor of the courthouse while crying repeatedly, "Please do not do this." It said deputy Christian grabbed her by the arm and pulled her up to a standing position.

She was then taken into the restroom, where the female probation officer conducted the urine test and the male deputy propped open the door to the women's bathroom with his foot, it was stated.

The suit says Ms. Petitt looked at the urine sample and pronounced it "positive" before dumping it.

Ms. Ashbrook was then taken to jail for the 10 days ordered by Judge Stokes.

The complaint said there was no probable cause for the urine sample to be ordered and Ms. Ashbrook was deprived of any right to an attorney or to her day in court or bond.

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