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Atwood v. Jackson

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Aberdeen Division

February 21, 2017

DAVID GARLAND ATWOOD, II PLAINTIFF
v.
JAMES JACKSON, DEFENDANTS Name Will/ May Call [F]act/ [E]xpert [L]iability/ [D]amages Business Address & Telephone Number Name Will/ May Call [F]act/ [E]xpert [L]iability/ [D]amages Business Address & Telephone Number

          PRETRIAL ORDER

          Sharion Aycock United States District Judge

         1. Choose [by a ✔ mark] one of the following paragraphs, as is appropriate to the action: If a pretrial conference was held

         A pretrial conference was held as follows:

Dated: February 21, 2017 Time: 10:00 a.m.
United States Courthouse at Aberdeen, Mississippi before the following judicial officer:
U.S. District Judge Sharion Aycock

         2. The following counsel appeared:

a. For the Plaintiff:

Name David Garland Atwood, II Pro se

Postal and Email Addresses 439 Garden Grove Street Vicksburg, MS 39180 davidatwood83@gmail.com

Telephone No. (601) 738-0286

b. For the Defendant:

Name Wilson Minor

Postal and Email Addresses MS Attorney General's Office Civil Litigation Division Post Office Box 220 Jackson, Mississippi 39205 wmino@ago.state.ms.us

Telephone No. (601) 359-6279

         3. The pleadings are amended to conform to this pretrial order.

         4. The following claims (including claims stated in the complaint, counterclaims, crossclaims, third-party claims, etc.) have been filed:

         42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim for false arrest in violation of the Fourth Amendment against James Jackson.

         5. The basis for this court's jurisdiction is: 28 U.S.C. § 1331; 42 U.S.C. §1983 6. The following jurisdictional question(s) remain(s): None.

         7. The following motions remain pending:

a. Plaintiff's Renewed Motion in Limine [Doc. 320]
b. Plaintiff's Motion for Issuance of Subpoenas [Doc. 319]
c. Plaintiff's Motion to Close Courtroom During Confidential Testimony [Doc. 316]

         8. The parties accept the following concise summaries of the ultimate facts as claimed by:

         a. Plaintiff:

James Jackson, acting on orders of Mike Chaney, reopened a closed investigation into a fire that was never ruled an arson in political retaliation for my recently published book that was critical of Sheriff Martin Pace, a friend of Chaney's and the Atwood Family, which were also friends of Chaney. Acting without evidence, Jackson secured an arrest warrant without evidence of a crime and without evidence of any participation by me, in direct contradiction of all exculpatory evidence.

         b. Defendant:

On November 11, 2009, a lake house in Attala County owned by Emmett Atwood burned to the ground. Attala County Deputy Sheriff called Defendant James Jackson, a Deputy State Fire Marshal, to investigate the fire. After inspecting the scene of the fire, Jackson concluded that the fire was of incendiary origin and proceeded to open an arson investigation. Jackson subsequently contacted Emmett Atwood, who informed Jackson that he suspected his grandson, Plaintiff David Atwood, had started the fire. According to Emmett Atwood, David had been involved in an ongoing feud with him and other members of the Atwood family.
On March 3, 3010, Jackson met with Joshua Chamblee, David's ex-boyfriend, in Carthage, Mississippi, to question him about the fire that burned down Emmett's lake house in Attala County. Chamblee denied that he or David had any involvement in the fire. However, Jackson sensed that Chamblee was not telling the truth based on his demeanor during the interview. Accordingly, Jackson continued to investigate the arson.
On July 29, 2011, Jackson questioned Chamblee a second time at the Leake County Sheriff's Department. Chamblee stated that on November 11, 2009, he and David Atwood drove down Highway 12 from Starkville for an hour until they stopped in a woody area. According to Chamblee, David instructed him to exit the vehicle, at which point David proceeded to walk behind a house with a plastic bag in his hand. Chamblee stated that when they started walking back towards the car, he saw flames coming from the house. Chamblee also recalled David saying that house belonged to his grandfather. Finally, Chamblee explained that the reason he had not told the truth to Jackson on March 3, 2010, was that David Atwood had threatened to burn down his mother's house or the houses of other family members if he told the State Fire Marshal's Office that David started the fire. Jackson recorded the interview of Chamblee and also obtained a written statement from Chamblee implicating David Atwood in the arson.
On that same date, Jackson traveled to Attala County and swore out an affidavit against David Atwood for first degree arson. Jackson submitted the affidavit to Attala County Justice Court Judge Ronald Stewart and requested the issuance of a warrant for Atwood's arrest. Additionally, Jackson showed Judge Stewart Chamblee's written statement. Based on Chamblee's written statement admitting that he witnessed David Atwood set fire to his grandfather's lake house, Judge Stewart found that there was probable cause to arrest David for first degree arson and issued an arrest warrant to Jackson.
On August 1, 2011, David turned himself into the Attala County Sheriff's Department and was booked into the Attalla County Jail. He subsequently bonded out of the jail that same day after posting bail. On October 12, 2011, Atwood's preliminary hearing was held in Attala County Justice Court. After hearing Jackson's and Deputy Sheriff Nail's testimony, Judge Stewart found that there was probable cause for the first degree arson charge and bound Atwood's case over to the Attala County grand jury.
The Attala County District Attorney's Office presented David Atwood's case to an Attala County grand jury in 2012. The grand jury decided not to indict Atwood for first degree arson and returned a “no bill” against him.

         9. a. The following facts are established by the pleadings, by stipulation, or by admission:

1. On July 29, 2011, Attala County Justice Court Judge Ronald Stewart issued a warrant for the arrest of Plaintiff David Atwood for first degree arson.
2. On August 1, 2011, Plaintiff David Atwood turned himself in and bonded out of the Attala County Jail that same day.
3. Attala County Justice Court Judge Ronald Stewart set Plaintiff David Atwood's bail at $50, 000.
4. On October 12, 2011, Plaintiff David Atwood appeared before Attala County Justice Court Judge Ronald Stewart for his preliminary hearing.
5. At the conclusion of the preliminary hearing, Attala County Justice Court Judge Ronald Stewart found that there was probable cause for the first degree arson charge against Plaintiff David Atwood, and bound Atwood's case over to the grand jury.
6. In March 2012, an Attala County grand jury returned a “no bill” against Plaintiff David Atwood for first degree arson.

         b. The contested issues of fact are as follows:

1. Whether James Jackson is liable in his individual capacity to Plaintiff David Atwood for false arrest pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in violation of the Fourth Amendment. (Mixed Question of Law and Fact)
2. Whether probable cause existed to arrest Plaintiff David Atwood for arson on July 29, 2011, after Joshua Chamblee's statement to the State Fire Marshal's Office. (Mixed Question of Law and Fact)
3. Whether James Jackson intentionally and maliciously made false or misleading statements, or withheld exculpatory information, when he obtained an arrest warrant for Plaintiff David Atwood from Attala County Justice Court Judge Ronald Stewart on July 29, 2011.
4. Whether James Jackson was aware of any facts indicating that Joshua Chamblee had a motivation to lie when Joshua gave a statement to the State Fire Marshal's Office on July 29, 2011, implicating Plaintiff David Atwood in the arson which destroyed Emmett Atwood's lake house.
5. Whether James Jackson was aware of any facts indicating that the information provided by Joshua Chamblee on July 29, 2011, was unreliable.
6. Whether James Jackson is entitled to qualified immunity for false arrest in violation of the Fourth Amendment pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Mixed Question of Law and Fact)
7. Whether James Jackson's actions caused Plaintiff David Atwood to be detained in the Covington County Jail for four months.

         c. The contested issues of law are as follows:

1. Whether James Jackson is liable in his individual capacity to Plaintiff David Atwood for false arrest pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in violation of the Fourth Amendment. (Mixed Question of Law and Fact)
2. Whether probable cause existed to arrest Plaintiff David Atwood for arson on July 29, 2011, after Joshua Chamblee's statement to the State Fire Marshal's Office. (Mixed Question of Law and Fact)
3. Whether James Jackson is entitled to qualified immunity for false arrest in violation of the Fourth Amendment pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Mixed Question of Law and Fact)

         10. The following is a list and brief description of all exhibits (except exhibits to be used for impeachment purposes only) to be offered in evidence by the parties. Each exhibit has ...


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