Harassment Suits Against The Harris County Sheriff's Department Live Again

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When Sean and Erik Ibarra sued attorney Lloyd Kelley in October over legal fees, one of the questions was what would happen to a separate civil-rights lawsuit with several plaintiffs, including the Ibarras and April Walker, against the sheriff's department and certain deputies.

(The original suit, however, did accomplish one thing before the fee feud: it's what made Chuck Rosenthal's infamous e-mails public.)

It took some time for Kelley to extract clients Walker and Lloyd Henderson from the original lawsuit once Kelley could no longer represent the Ibarras, but several days ago, Kelley tells Hair Balls, he filed new lawsuits on behalf of Walker and Henderson in Houston federal court. Related to Walker, Kelley also filed a separate lawsuit on behalf of nurse Tiffany Stinson against Harris County and former Sheriff Tommy Thomas, Kelley says.

Walker, a law professor and Houston municipal court judge, claims sheriff's deputies threw her to the ground and handcuffed her after calling to report someone on an ATV was driving wildly and following her. Walker was charged with impersonating a public servant, a charge that was dismissed, only to be replaced with assaulting an officer. Walker also claims that after she complained, sheriff's officers threatened and harassed her, according to the lawsuit.

Lloyd Henderson claims a deputy threw him to the ground and falsely arrested him after Henderson called the sheriff's department because his store had been burglarized. After complaining about the alleged civil-right violation, Henderson claims the sheriff's department harassed and tried to intimidate him.

Tiffany Stinson, who worked as a nurse for April Walker's now-deceased husband, claims that a deputy assaulted her during a traffic stop after she revealed she was friends with Walker.

Kelley says having the Ibarras onboard was the key to tying all the claims together into one lawsuit. Without them, he's decided to file each case separately. And not only in federal court. Kelley has also filed a lawsuit for each of the three plaintiffs in State District Court.

"I've never seen it done before like this," says Kelley, "but I'm trying it. I've split them and put the officers in state court and put the county in federal court. That means that [because of the differing court rules] I can probably get to trial in a year versus five years."

So in the end, Kelley's gone from working one large case to six different slightly smaller cases.

"I want to keep the county busy," he says. "I don't want them to have to fire any lawyers in these economic times."

-- Chris Vogel

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