Monday, May 05, 2014

Williford sues Cocke County
The mother of a 15 year-old boy has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court naming Bailiff Jim Huskey and the Cocke County Sheriff's Department as defendants. Christi Williford, a Cocke County resident says her then 14 year-old son was arrested in April, 2013 and charged in Cocke County Juvenile Court with an offense related to underage consumption of alcohol. After the teen entered his plea, Juvenile Judge John Bell demanded to know who had supplied the defendant with the alcohol, threatening him with contempt if the boy did not supply the information. The lawsuit says the teen "made a disrespectful comment to the judge" whereupon Husky crossed the courtroom and struck the defendant on the face. "The blow to the face was loud enough to be heard throughout the courtroom and left a red mark on (the teen's) face." According to the action, the teen had not been violent or posed a threat to anyone, and "there was no need for any use of force by Bailiff Huskey." The lawsuit says judge Bell then ordered that the teen be removed from the courtroom and so four deputies were called, wrestled the teen to the floor and removed him from the courtroom. Although Ms. Williford asked the office of the district attorney to file assault charges against Bailiff Huskey for "striking a child without need or provocation," the lawsuit says the day after Ms. Williford filed the criminal complaint, the teen was charged additionally with assaulting the deputies who had removed him from the courtroom. The lawsuit alleges the sheriff's department did not adequately train the bailiff and environment in which the use of excessive and needless force is tolerated and encouraged. It demands $250,000 in compensatory and punitive damages, as well as attorneys fees. County Attorney Carter Moore had no comment on the litigation saying he has sent the case to the county's liability carrier.

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