Some Lee jail strip-search lawsuits settled

TUPELO – Ten lawsuits accusing Lee County of illegal jail strip-searches were settled this week.
They were among 25 filed in U.S. District Court by Iuka attorney Michael Cooke.
Each plaintiff claimed Lee County’s strip-search policy was unconstitutional and should not apply to people who are accused of misdemeanors or other minor charges, such as driving violations.
Cooke and the county’s attorney Gary Carnathan declined to reveal the details of the settlements.
“I’m likely to have to try three or four of these cases,” Cooke said Thursday, “but we’re going to be talking about the others.”
The 10 people settling with Lee County are David Biffle of Belden, Korey Frosinotes of Booneville, Camilla L. Marble of Prairie, Jimmy W. Whitaker of Mooreville, Janice W. Whitworth of Dumas, Natasha Wren of Verona and, all of Tupelo, Katarshish Bobo, Beverly S. Daniel, Sammie L. Daniel and Michael Howell.
Lee County denied the allegations and insisted, through court filings, that it could not be sued because of sovereign immunity laws.
“We’re very pleased to settle these cases,” Carnathan said late Thursday.
Cooke still represents more than a dozen others, whose similar lawsuits against Lee County, Sheriff Jim Johnson and jail staffers accuse them of conducting illegal strip searches at the jail. They claim their suspected offenses were not serious enough to warrant the searches.
In some of these cases, Lee County asked the court to find in its favor because, it says, the person was arrested under circumstances that gave officers a reason to be concerned he or she might be concealing contraband.

Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or

Patsy R. Brumfield/Daily Journal

Click video to hear audio