UPDATE: Judge says inmates fail to prove jail officer meant their harm

By Patsy R. Brumfield / Daily Journal

OXFORD – Testimony resumed at 1:30 p.m. today in two state inmates’ lawsuits against former Lee County Jail officer Joseph Royce.

William Turner and Jeff Tucker claim Royce deliberately and maliciously allowed the wrongful mix of two groups of prisoners, which resulted in a violent attack Oct. 2, 2008.

Turner and Tucker are representing themselves in U.S. District Court, presided over by Chief Judge Michael P. Mills. Royce, now a truck-driver, is represented by Tupelo attorneys William Murphree and Gary Carnathan.

In the end, Mills said they failed to prove that Royce mean them harm.

(BELOW – A sometimes-paraphrased, running account of the early afternoon proceedings.)

1:37 P.M. :

TURNER: CALLS BRANDON TOLLISON, another prisoner

(Asked him about work?) A cook, worked as Chili’s as head cook. Stayed at Lee jail Aug. 25-Oct. or November, 2008. Roommate, Curtis Gates.

(Altercation Oct. 2?) (Before that, what took place before they let you out of cell?) Sitting alone in cell, drawing picture for dad for his birthday. Door opened, two guys came in and starting talking to me. They asked me……… OBJECTION – SUSTAINED, IT’S HERESAY. (Guy keeps on testifying.)

(Charge?) Enticement of a minor for indecent purposes. Don’t know if cell was locked. (Who let you out of cell for your 3 hours.) Generally, officer Royce. (How did he act?) He opened it, when a lot of people were to my right, ganged up, talking crazy. Had words with them. Went down the steps, went to the phone to call my family. On phone, the gang of people came down the steps, walking around table where you were sitting, went through hitting people, and a brawl proceeded. Close to canteen day. They robbed me.

(Who assaulted you?) He hit me and repeatedly hit me. Got him off of me, they got my canteen, locked door. I had to beat on the door to get out.

(Did you feel like your life was in danger after that?) Can’t say. Shocked by the violence.

(How much longer did Royce still work there?) Entire time, he was there.
(Did anybody call down the hall?) We told them what happened. Told us to get in our cells. Later that night, they gave us medical attention.

(Did anybody apologize for the action?) Several … OBJECT- SUSTAINED, HERESAY

(Do you remember a Derrick Rowser?) One of two who came into my cell. (Chris Cosner?) Yes sir. (You seen me get hit?) Yes sir. (Who hit me?) They call him Bull. (What pod he came from?) Majority of people came from different pods.

(Was this normal, for everyone to be turned out like that?) Somedays, it was. Somedays it wasn’t. More common for non-protective people out, then protective custody people later.

(Did you see something was going on? Something strange?) Can’t recall. (What about Curtis, Did he had altercation … argument with Royce?) I can’t remember.

(Diagnosed with anything?) Mild concussion. (Was you present when Curtis was diagnosed?) Yes, I was. OBJECT – SUSTAINED.

CROSS EXAMINATION – WILLIAM MURPHREE

(Where are you?) Kemper-Neshoba. (Convicted 2008?) Enticement for indecent purposes.

(When incident occurred, before it happened, somebody stole some items from you?) During the incident. (Later, you said, you and roommate went to medical. Saw a male, told him you thought you had a concussion. Didn’t he tell you you had a contusion, rather than a concussion.) Can you explain the difference? (Sure) I’m sure. Gave me Ibuphrofen.

(Cellmate saw medical). Yes. (Others to medical?) Not that I was aware. They didn’t offer to anyone else, that I was aware of.

(Nothing else happened after that?) Apologized. (No more incidents?) No, I left shortly after that. When I first came to the lockdown area, a couple of guys were trying to extort myself. No altercations. (Hear Royce to order anybody?) No, not verbatim, no sit.

TURNER – RE-DIRECT
(People tried to extort you? Names?) Daniel Mabry and can’t recall other guy’s name? (Was it Bull? Remember his name?) No, don’t know. (In courtroom?) Yes sir. In back.

(He’s one who led the assault down the stairs?) I can’t say he led it. He went around the table. It wasn’t a rare back and swing, but it was a physical altercation.

(No further questions).

TURNER – CALL DANNY TUCKER (Tucker gets up from audience. Older man, white hair. Dressed in jeans, jeans jacket).

Turner, with Exhibits. Entered into record, #1 and #3.

Danny Ray says “Happy Birthday.” Known you all your life.

(Ever known me to be physically damaged?) No. (Course, you’re my brother and they’re not going to believe that.)

(You came to see me at the jail. Not many times, you could have come more. What did you observe when you came.) You were in total … handcuffs, feetcuffs. Nobody else had cuffs on with visitors. (How many officers were close?) Seem like I saw one officer, not within any hands reach.

(That’s closest thing to a doctor I could get.) Judge says you’re not testifying yet.

TUCKER – CALLS MELISSA ROBINSON (Woman, casual dress in jeans, striped sweater).

(Known me how long?) 6-7 years (Known me to have injury?) No, sir. (Did you visit me in Lee jail?) Yes, just about every Thursday. (When came, notice anything about way I was dressed or shackles). You were the only one with shackles. (Ever see defendant bring me there?) No.

(How many others there?) 4 or 5, all in a line. (Officers near us?) Other officers in a different room. Standing at the door, during visits.

MURPHREE – No questions

TUCKER – The plaintiffs rest. I’m a WalMart lawyer.

TURNER – Rest, too.

MURPHREE – Defense asks for directed verdict. There’s been no proof at all, only one incident when Royce opened the door, got to be shown more than just that. No showing of anything … that this officer deliberately intended to cause harm to these men. No proof.

TUCKER – Didn’t cross my mind to put myself on the stand, in my own defense before I closed it out. I’m a little green, I’m a WalMart lawyer. I think more would come out if they put witnesses on the stand.

JUDGE MILLS – Well, you had your opportunity and you rested. I tell you what, I think the facts have to be interpreted most favorably (to you) and I think he should have put himself on the stand. And he didn’t. Well, he is familiar with procedures in court.

I’m going to re-open your case and let you testify, because you don’t have a case right now.

I will deny your motion, but I think you’re entitled to it. I think he made a mistake.

Call the jury back in. (So, I can put myself on the stand?) That’s right.

MURPHREE – We’ve all been impressed with Mr. Tucket, too.

TUCKER – Can I bring these to the stand with me.

MILLS – I’m going to let you do that.

(JURY RETURNS – 2:05 P.M.)

MILLS – To the jury: Mr. Tucker said he meant to testify but he forgot. I’m going to let him do that like any other witness.

TUCKER – ON STAND

My name is Jeff W. Tucker. The morning, we always get our canteen and put it in our rooms and come out for our 3 hours. 99 percent of the time. From our cells, we could see the canteen in the hall in boxes. We’re anxious, once a week to get something sweet.

Officer Royce comes on the pod, he’s opening the doors. Well, he’s getting this lady. She’s opening the doors, she’s in the towers. He’s running us out. She’s shutting doors behind us. We’re stranded out here to get our canteen. Probably 8 people make canteen. I was also had extortion pulled on me. To take my canteen, they want yours.

Officer Royce opens the doors, shuts the doors. We’re stuck out there. All these guys were taking cards. They robbed the boy upstairs. We’re playing cards. I get hit, kicked a couple of times. Altercation probably didn’t last 2 minutes. Me getting his probably didn’t last 30 seconds. How long does it take to get hurt? Any case, the altercation a part of not negligence on his part. He worked this shift every day for a week before this. This man knows we were on protective custody, and he knows.

He had ot have knowledge. OBJECT – SUSTAINED.

MILLS – You can only testify to the facts.

TUCKER – The fact is, he knew us by name. He kneweverybody in there. Who was on what benefit. Protective in green and white pants. Not, in black and white pants. Not hard to figure out. Cell doors are open, can see who’s on PC and who’s not. Why would he deliberately let us out, knowing in canteen day …. OBJECT – SUSTAINED.

This is an X-ray … the result of the X-ray from C-Span 4 and 5. Medical records where I took medication from injuries from this altercation. OBJECT – (MILLS – I’m going to let him finish – OVERRULED)

They never did write up an incident report on this. Like the tape requested, never showed up. If had nothing to hide, it would have showed up. Here, it says, as soon as a staff becomes aware of a rule violation, staff member observing incident will present … the report will be signed and sent to supervisor. None of that was even done, yet they will lock you down for as little as shooting them the bird, or as little as cussing them.

If I’m given an opportunity, requesting more inmates, I’ll prove that. (MILLS LOOKS AT HIM). But yet, Royce didn’t file one thing about it. That’s about all I have.

TURNER – Doesn’t wish to question him.

CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MURPHREE –

MURPHREE – (Altercation lasted a minute?) Possibly, I was knocked down, kicked, can’t say how long. (Incident report – shift supervisor, Sgt. Bridges came down? Aware they could have charged everybody with assault?) No, but wished they had – I could have beat an assault.

(You were in jail because you had pled guilty to sexual battery?) That’s right, two different charges. (Believe you told me you didn’t commit either. That lawyer forced you.) Right. (You were in protective custody for own protection?) Yes. (Because of these previous sex crimes.) Lee County automatically put me in there.

(This altercation happened when Royce had all the doors open?) No, he came in …. (how opened doors?) All he has to do is walk to the door, tower can see him, automatically opens door. (Everybody came out?) Some of us had canteen, if you don’t come out, you don’t get out. (Where was everybody?) Some at top, all rest of us were downstairs.

(Before assault, nothing like this has occurred with Royce before? Heard that testimony?) Yes. (Heard man say nothing else happened involving Royce? Hear that?) Yes.

(Injuries you had – when I took your deposition, I asked what injuries you had?) I said fractured neck, damaged nerves. What have you got? (Line 11 – can you see that? I don’t see anything in there about fractured neck or nerve damage? When did you discover that?) (Mr. Tucker, I took your deposition in Nov. 2009, I asked you what injuries were.) (Tucker shows him medical records) (Why didn’t you tell me you had other injuries?)

(I ask you sir … [PAUSE TO CONFER WITH CARNATHAN, JOHNSON] …as I understand it, if a prisoner commits an offense, they put him in F-Pod, stays how long due to seriousness of offense?) He can stay over there, if he wants. (Not necessarily the same people in lockdown all the time? They go back to general population?) Yes, general, which shouldn’t be with others. (A constant change from lockdown to general?) Yes.

TUCKER LEAVES STAND. 2:24 P.M.

MILLS- To Tucker, do you have any more witnesses? TUCKER, TURNER – no sir

EACH OF YOU REST? TUCKER – yes

MILLS – Ask Jury to leave again. 2:25 p.m. (They exit the courtroom.)

MURPHREE – Mr. Turner has presented nothing in this case. WE submit that the complaint should be dismissed. Mr. Tucker, even with additional testimony provides nothing more. As court knows, the case has been to 5th Circuit that deliberate indifference must show more… an act done in sadistic, malicious manner with intent to cause harm. Most that’s been shown, Mr. Royce mistakenly let all the prisoners out at the same time. Prior to this, not testimony that any prisoner experienced any problems with Mr. Royce. Subsequently, Cosner said never was anything, difficulty with Mr. Royce. Complete failure to establish deliberate indifference.

TUCKER – Well, your honor. I know it’s hard to prove what I have to prove. All you’ve got is what I said. I would like to go forward, question other witnesses to show more reasons why this wasn’t done. They got me outweighed but this was done by Mr. Royce not by accident. But, I know the court has certain to go by. If I haven’t proven it at this point, I guess you know best.

MILLS – Turner, anything? (No sir)

MILLS – Test is deliberate indifference. Two critical issues: 1. Had damages. 2> Damages attributed to this incident. No proof that any damages came from this, only perhaps some confusion. Or some cuts, which were attended to in some manner. Doesn’t appear that officers were indifferent. They took some to get what appears to be sufficient medical care at the time.

Well, I didn’t see any proof in the record that you sought assistance.

More difficult issue – to show he intentionally or deliberately allowed inmates to intermingle. He has admitted he made a mistake. Big difference. Plaintiffs have failed to prove actions were deliberate or intentional. I’m going to grant the motion of the defense.

Bring jury in. (2:31 P.M.)

MILLS – Ladies and gentlemen. I heard arguments about directed verdict. Have decided to direct it to defendant. I don’t believe plaintiff established that defendant acted with deliberate and intentionally action.s May have been negligent but no proof of deliberate acts.

Means you will be free to go shortly. Will excuse jury now. (2:33 p.m.)

MILLS – Nothing further, this matter is closed.

* * * *

11:15 A.M.:

OXFORD – Jurors selected, state inmates William Turner and Jeff Tucker began their case against former Lee jail employee Joseph Royce.

They claim he deliberately allowed “lock down” inmates and “protective custody” inmates into the same space, which resulted in a fight back in 2008 at the Tupelo facility.

They seek damages for their injuries and the denial of their constitutional right to freedom from harm.

Acting as their own lawyers, Turner and Tucker – who are white – are dressed in black-and-white horizontally striped pants and white scrubs-like short-sleeved shirts, each with “MDOC Convict” emblazoned across the back in black.

Royce also is white.

At 11:04, the jury members took their seats – six women and two men. One man on the jury is black and one woman is Asian-American.

Judge Michael Mills addresses the jurors, telling them their duties, to be the judges of facts.

(FROM HERE, A ROLLING ACCOUNT, SOMETIMES PARAPHRASED, OF THE ACTION IN THE COURTROOM):

MILLS: This is a civil case. Plaintiffs have a burden of proof that what they claim is more likely true than not. Tipping the scales somewhat in their favor. If they fail to meet this burden, then you find in favor of the defendant.

(I know many of you use cell phones or smart phones. You’re not to talk about the case, not even on your text or e-mail or MySpace or Facebook. They left their phones in their cars? Yes, judge.)

Mills told the jurors about a trial a couple of years ago, that one of the lawyers got a message from a juror that he had lost. One of the jurors had a girlfriend who was friends of a friend of the lawyer – got the e-mail that the jury’s verdict went against them. We’ve had to tighten up on that, so the world won’tknow anything until the court decides.)

TUCKER: Was a plumber. Told jurors about himself. Eight years recovering from drugs and alcohol. I’m not just somebody in here accusing a police officer, not trying to get money off this man.

I’m a state inmate, Delta Correctional FAcility. Today, facing burden of proof that while I was housed at Lee County Jail, a reckless disregard of correctional officer violated my constitutional rights, caused me nerve damage in my neck, arm. Terrified. So scared I wouldn’t seek medical treatment. I was in lockdown, I didn’t want to take any chances to make officers mad. I just let it go until I got out there, then on to Rankin County. It’s worse system than a jail, a lot of violence.

These things will follow you. This followed me along. You’ll hear testimony by Chris Cosner, also in protective custody. Person who was robbed and assaulted the same day. I may have testimony from another person that I was healthy until I was incarcerated. My brother, that I’ve never had a neck injury until I was in Lee County Jail.

TURNER: (NO OPENING REMARKS)

MURPHREE: In his opening statement Mr. Tucker has given you a litany complaints about Lee County Jail and prison system. Only one issue to decide: That is, did Joseph Royce deliberately with intent to harm these people let out these lock down prisoners who they had an altercation with. That’s their burden of proof.

But that he maliciously with deliberate indifference violate their constitutional rights. That’s a serious charge.

It’s about a short-lived altercation, lasted maybe a minute or two between jail inmates. Sheriff Johnson will tell you altercations between inmates happen. They responded quickly.

Tucker up here trying to extort money out of our client.

You’re going to be asked to judge credibility of witnesses. These men are convicted felons on sex offender cases. They will have other similar witnesses.

Our client is a combat soldier, elite 82nd Division, returned to work for Lee Sheriff’s Department. No problems. Left on good will, Now a truck driver. You’ll get to judge his credibility against convicted felons.

Oct. 2, 2008 – proof will show that these two men were housed in F-Pod, a housing unit. There are several of these pods. F-Pod is a little different – two categories of prisoners. One is for protective custody status – two types, one are sex offenders, they’re housed in there because other prisoners don’t like them and will attack them on occasion; same pod, have lockdown prisoners, who have violated some rule or regulation inside the jail. May have been disrespectful of threatening.

Two groups are on separate floors. They are not to be let out at same time as other prisoners.

In Lee Jail, there’s a tower, where couple officers can look and see all these pods. Joseph Royce came on duty and went to tower. Lee Sheriff’s Dept. publishes a list of prisoners on lockdown, so officers know who. Royce will say he looked and didn’t see a roster, so he assumed there was nobody on lockdown. Days go by when there’s nobody on lockdown. He assumed they’re all protective custody prisoners, so all the cells are opened.

One thing led to another – Royce and others go down there and says, everybody up against the wall. Everybody went to the wall. That was the end of it.

This is not a negligence case. These men are charging that he did it deliberately and intentionally, knowing that serious harm could occur. Proof will be that he opened doors, altercation began, he immediately went in there without backup with 20-30 people in there, to break this up. Only thing he did deliberately was to get in there a quick as he could to break this up.

Damages, an issue in this case. These men claim damages. They claim they got physical and emotional injuries, because of this incident. Only reason I’m addressing is that they raised it as an issue. No claim in this case that either one of these men were denied medical care. That is not an issue. They’re saying, well we still got injured.

No medical testimony. You won’t hear a doctor, no medical proof. They will offer records from over at Parchman. They have other complaints but that’s not in this case.

As far as this claim about emotional distress, we will show they have plenty of other things in their lives besides an incident at the Lee County Jail.

• • •

PLAINTIFFS TO CALL WITNESSES: (Tucker does questioning)

CHRIS COSNER: (Enters in handcuffs, shackles, yellow prison garb.) Pizza restaurant in Saltillo, before arrested. Possession to sell marijuana and Zanax. Went into protective custody, said I was charged with failure to register as a sex offender, so put me in there. In Cell 2, roommate with William Turner. Tucker was in Cell 3.

Willie Clark, brought into our zone. September? Came from A Pod, brought into F Pod by Royce … no, that was Sheets, in the evening. Was in one cell with Tucker, then put into Cell 7 or 8, something like that.

Kevin Mabry? In Cell 7.

On Oct. 2, (what happened): Fed us breakfast, cellmate Antonio noticed they had brought new inmates over that morning. Royce brought them. Next, he let some of the lockdowns out for an hour to take a shower. Served us lunch, then let protective custody and other lockdowns out. (Who let us out?) No, they hit the buttons. (Who were officers there?) Just Royce, only remember he was in tehre and using his walkit-talkie and they popped the doors. Everybody was out.

(Did he feed us with a roster?) Just did it normally, inside cells.

(When we was out, everybody out?) No, except ones let out earlier. New guys out too. Hard to remember, one named Whitfield and also Price. (Gang members?) OBJECT (SUSTAINED)

(Remember anybody getting robbed?) Two were. I was down at card table. (Where I was at.) After robbed, people came out on upper tier and asked what he was going to do. He said he wanted his canteen back. They came up behind us. (How many jumped on you?) We were all hit initially – four on me, three on another man.

(Who came to pod first, officer?) Royce started coming down hallway toward the door. They started to break up off of us. Asked to let him go because cops were coming. Royce said to get against the wall. (Medical?) Officer Royce said here’s one bleeding on face pointing to me, officer took me to the nurse but went to the tower, no nurse. He put some disinfectant on towel, on cuts, told me to go back to cell. (Anybody else ask to go to medical?) Both did. OBJECT – HERESAY. SUSTAINED.

(Did you feel safe in Lee Jail?) No, not after that. OBJECT – HIS HEALTH ISN’T ISSUE. SUSTAINED.

(Any other officers show up during altercation?) Price, Benson, Carlo, some female officers. Didn’t come on pod, just Royce, Vincent, Price came to door.

(Do you feel Royce came on pod deliberately to open doors and allow these inmates out?) OBJECT – SPECULATION. SUSTAINED.

(Did you feel safe with Royce that day?) With Royce, not particular. When he’s on duty, that shift, he allowed lockdowns out with protective custody. OBJECT – OVERRULED.

(Other officers didn’t do that?) Correct.

TURNER:

(On day of altercation, did anybody ask you or anyone else to play the video of what occurred?) Yes. OBJECT – SUSTAINED, HERESAY

CROSS EXAMINATION BY WILLIAM MURPHREE:

Cosner, sitll in Holly Springs. (There for? Possession of marijuana to sell, to sell Zanax).

(You were on protective custody, because of a prior conviction?) I don’t know, except said that on complaint form. (Convicted of sex crime?) Yes, 20 years ago.

(When this occurred, you were at table with Tucker, Tuenr and some others? Some lock down prisoners came down stairs, circled table and assaulted you and others? How long did this last?) I’d say 10-15 minutes.

(10-15 minutes, you were being pounded?) Yes. (Do you know how long 10-15 minutes? You’re asking jurors to believe you were being pounded for 10-15 minutes? What were you injuries?) I had cuts and bruises, broken teeth. (You’ve never been threatened by them before?) No. (After this, threatened again?) No. (Never attacked again?) No. (One time incident?) Yes.

(After this, you wrote letters to circuit judge, others complaining?) Yes. (Did they write you back?) No. (They’re not going to be here to testify?) No.

(Before incident, how long had you been in jail?) Since July 19. (3 months) (How long after were you in jail?) About 5 months. (Other altercations?) No.

TUCKER – RE-DIRECT

(During those 5 months after the altercation, was the same inmates on the pod?) Just about all of them. (Still in lockdown) Yes. (Were they causing trouble?) Yes, same ones. (For fights?) Similar, or stole bleach or something. (When uyouw ere against the wall, did you hear anybody mentioned a videotape? Recording?) Only one was Sgt. Vincent. OBJECT – SUSTAIN, THAT’S HERESAY

(Did you file paperwork to try to get this tape?) Yes, I filed a motion to challenge conditions or confinement, for discovery for fight tape. (What happened?) Never received an answer from anyone. (Copy or what you filed?) No, still trying to get it to this day? OBJECT – SUSTAINED

11:54 A.M. – RECESS FOR LUNCH. BACK AT 1:30 P.M.

• • • •

Come back to NEMS360.com for new developments.

9:40 A.M.:

OXFORD – An unusual trial began this morning in U.S. District Court, with two prison-garbed inmates representing themselves against a Lee County jail employee.

William Turner and Jeff Tucker accuse Joseph Royce of putting them in an unsafe environment for a jail attack back in 2008.

Sitting with Royce at the defense table are Sheriff Jim Johnson with attorneys William Murphree and Gary Carnathan of Tupelo.

Before late last week, the plaintiffs numbered three, but U.S. District Chief Judge MIchael P. Mills dismissed certain of their allegations, as well as inmate Chris Cosner’s total complaint.

Turner and Tucker are representing themselves in the Oxford court. Seated just behind them are two state corrections officers.

The court record lists the names of several state prisoners, who have been subpoenaed to testify.

First order of business was selection of a jury from about two dozen of the region’s registered voters.

The sheriff, Lee County and the board of supervisors were original defendants in the lawsuits, but along the way Mills dismissed them as defendants.

By Thursday, only Royce remained in the pair’s legal line of fire. Today, sitting beside Carnathan, he wore a light blue work shirt and blue jeans frayed at the knees.

Across the past few years, Lee County has defended dozens of inmate lawsuits alleging mistreatment in the Tupelo facility. Most, with lawyers hired to press the issues, were settled without trials.

Mills told the potential jurors the civil trial could last two days, but it could be completed today.

Tucker was first to ask questions

Q: Have you ever been in jail?

Q: Do you believe prisoners should be provided protection from other prisoners?

(Everybody agreed with that.)

Q: Do you believe that because one prisoner is charged with violence, he should be shackled with other prisoners who aren’t shackled when they are moved together?

Lady – if you are violent and he isn’t.

Q: What if you’re violent and in protective custody?

Q: Do you think prisoners are treated too lightly?

(Lady – I do. A brother, sometimes treated too lightly. He didn’t learn from it.)

Turner has no questions.

Murphree has questions: (Royce is a former employee of Lee Sheriff’s Dept.)

Q: Asks man, you went to jail for a softball game against prisoners. Does that matter, affect you?

(no)

Q: Mr. Walton, you visited someone in jail?

A: My mom and dad. (Q: Not a pleasant experience? A: Not really.)

Q: Experience, can you set that aside and decided it strictly on the face.

A: No, I think they should have been there longer than they were.

Q: Mrs. Price, said son was in a malpractice case?Medical?

A: Yes, in Tennessee. Settled during trial. Son still handicapped.

Q: These gentlemen say they were mistreated. Did your son’s experience with doctor, cause you any problems being fair in this case?

A: No, no problem.

Q: Ex-husband in jail?

A: Yes.

Q: (To another potential juror) Relative in jail?

A: Yes, my brother.

Q: Tough experience. Did you feel like your brother received mistreatment in the jail?

A: No

Q: Is this going to cause you any problems to decide facts?

A: No

Q: (To woman) Asked about civil case. Problems?

A: No

Q: (To another woman) tried a civil case, anything – almost exactly like what we’ve got here. Can decide this case?

A: No problems.

Murphree: Let me tell you about Turner and Tucker.

Turner lived for a period of time in and around New Albany. Any Union County jurors. Drove a truck for trucking companies. Anybody from around there or know those companies?

A: No response.

Tucker said lived in Pontotoc and Lee counties. Worked as a plumber. Anybody ever heard of that business or had any contact with him as a plumber?

A: No response.

Tucker also worked for Marty Rock. Anybody hear of him?

A: No response.

They represent themselves, no lawyer. You can look at me and Carnathan and see we’ve been practicing a long time. Anybody think Tucker and Turner ought to get a break because they don’t have a lawyer? Feel like they are underdogs and should be cut some slack?

A: No response.

Q: Anybody here, with relative or friend incarcerated, that you believe your relative or friend was mistreated at the jail or prison? Anybody feel that way? That’s the sum and substance of this case?

A: (Woman stands up). I have a friend in prison. Not mistreated by jailers, but understand he had problems with other prisoners.

Q: These men say it was deliberate. With close friend, cause you any difficulties?

A: No, it won’t. Wasn’t deliberate by employees.

Q: Because we’re in federal court and these men are suing Mr. Royce, feel that they ought to get money?

A: No response.

Q: Does everybody, on front end, this is not a negligence case, this involves a claim of violation of constitutional rights. Judge will give you instructions about the burden of proof. Difference with a civil negligence case. When hear instructions, he will ask if you can follow the law – can all of you assure me, you will accept whatever instructions he states and follow them, even though you may disagree with the law?

A: No response

Q: Burden of proof – everybody has their own idea what that means. Can you assure me that only definition will be what Judge Mills give you?

A: No response.

Q: (General question) Is there anything that hasn’t been asked that’s bothering you? Feel like you don’t want to serve?

A: (Lady) 2 sons are Memphis police officers. I think I can be fair, but want you to know that. (Says she can be fair.)

Q: Decide case on evidence. (Man asked if I am a lawyer, involved with a case the man sat on the jury.) Can you assure me, if we don’t ask the right questions, you can set that aside and make the right decision?

A: No response.

MILLS – Any other reason why you could not sit on this jury and render a fair verdict, based on the evidence set before you?

A: All shaking their heads affirmatively.
At this time, I will meet with attorneys and other parties to select a jury.

Be back in same seats at 11 a.m. Jury excused. Recess.
• • •

(Come back to NEMS360.com for trial developments.)