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Walker v. Smith

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division

May 16, 2018

GALE NELSON WALKER PLAINTIFF
v.
ROBERT SCHULER SMITH, individually and in his official capacity as District Attorney of Hinds County, Mississippi and John or Jane Does 1-10 DEFENDANTS

          ORDER

          F. KEITH BALL, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Before the Court is Plaintiff Gale Nelson Walker's Amended Motion to Compel [118]. For the reasons described below, the Court finds that the motion should be granted in part and denied in part.

         Procedural and Factual History

         Walker previously worked as an Assistant District Attorney in Hinds County, Mississippi. She alleges that in January 2014, Defendant Robert Schuler Smith wrongfully terminated her employment. [76] at 16, 21. Smith claims he terminated her employment because he discovered that she had “a history of writing worthless checks” and had written a “false and deceitful” letter using District Attorney's Office letterhead to a storage facility to which she owed money. [121-3] at 1-2. Walker's Second Amended Complaint advances a litany of claims against Smith, including that her termination was the result of race and gender discrimination. See [76]. Walker is African American. Id. at 1.

         Walker propounded interrogatories and requests for production of documents to Smith on March 6, 2017. She contends that Smith has not provided sufficient responses to Interrogatory Nos. 6 and 7, and Request for Production Nos. 10 and 26.[1]

         1. Interrogatory No. 6

         Walker claims that in October 2013, a Hinds County Public Defender handed her a letter written anonymously by an individual who claimed to be charged with a felony. [76] at 11. According to Walker, the letter, postmarked July 19, 2013, contained information about worthless checks Walker had written. Id. After receiving the letter, Walker claims that she spoke with an individual who worked in the District Attorney's Office's Worthless Check Unit and asked her if she knew anything about the letter.[2] Id. at 12. The employee responded that she did not. Id. She informed Walker that besides herself, only two other employees in the District Attorney's Office, one of whom was Smith, could access information in the Worthless Check Unit's computer system. Id. Walker claims that the employee gave her printouts that showed she had written worthless checks “many years ago (10-18 years) and that restitution had been paid. . . .” Id. (parenthetical in original). Walker met with Smith shortly afterwards. Id. She says that she “raised concerns . . . that the security had been breached in the computer system for the check unit.” Id. She contended that “someone had breached the security to actively, purposely, and with malicious intent seek information to use to threaten, coerce, harass, and intimidate a citizen of Hinds County, Mississippi and an officer of the court.” Id. at 13.

         Walker's Second Amended Complaint accuses Smith of either being aware of, or taking part in, a conspiracy which involved someone accessing her records in the Worthless Check Unit's computer system. Id. at 23-24. Walker alleges that “[t]wo or more defendants acted unlawfully to retrieve information about Plaintiff's check writing history from the secured computer system in the Bad Check Unit.” [76] at 24. She states that the defendants “acted in concert and engaged in a conspiracy designed to harass, threaten, and intimidate, the Plaintiff by using the information. The defendants utilized the United States Mail to further their conspiracy.” Id. She further alleges that Smith “intruded into Plaintiff's seclusion or personal life by searching for and retrieving check unit documents in the confidential check unit database.” Id. at 26.

         Walker propounded the following interrogatory to Smith:

Interrogatory No. 6: Identify any user who has accessed and/or retrieved Plaintiff's files in the Worthless Check Unit from the time the files were created until the present time. Include:
a. the identity of the person;
b. job title;
c. job description;
d. date of creation of file(s);
e. date of access to file(s)
f. password used to access the data;
g. description of data viewed and/or ...

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