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Larry Pack files suit against Wood County

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May 16th, former Wood County Justice of the Peace Larry Pack filed a lawsuit against Wood County in federal court in Tyler.

Here is the text of Pack's release to the press: "Judge Larry Pack, former Justice of the Peace for Precinct No. 3 of Wood County has filed suit against the county for violating his civil rights. The suit is based upon Judge Pack's wrongful conviction of aggravated perjury charges in 2005. The wrongful conviction resulted in Pack being forced to resign from office, serve probation, and be labeled a convicted felon. The suit seeks unspecified damage for various violations of civil rights arising out of Pack's wrongful conviction.

Judge Pack was later acquitted of aggravated perjury charges by a unanimous decision of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. According to Chief Justice Josh Morris, the Court found the evidence both legally and factually insufficient to support the charge of aggravated perjury.

The evidence in this case " ... is so weak that the jury's verdict is clearly wrong and manifestly unjust," said Morris.

Judge Pack has consistently said throughout his ordeal that prosecutors and investigators were acting for their own personal reasons and not acting in accordance with the law. The suit specifies violations of state and federal statutes as well as a failure to follow legal mandates by various Wood County employees. The case was initially investigated by former District Attorney Marcus Taylor and tried by the Attorney General's office after his request. Taylor later testified as a witness for the prosecution at trial.

‘No person is above the law,' said Judge Pack. This suit is to prevent any other decent citizen who volunteers to be a public servant from having his reputation stained forever, being forced from office and threatened with prison simply for doing what the law required, he said.

‘I do not regret my actions which led to charges being brought, and if I had it to do over again I would do the same thing because I did what the law mandates any Judge to do.'

Judge Pack continues to reside in Hawkins where he remains active in various community organizations."

The lawsuit states, "Defendant Wood County acting under color of law and acting pursuant to customs and policies of Wood County deprived Judge Pack of rights and privileges secured to him by the Fourth and Fourteenth amendments to the United States Constitution and by other laws of the United States through the actions of Marcus Taylor, the Wood County District Attorney in causing and/or aiding in a malicious prosecution for a crime he did not commit."

The suit also states, "At the time of the grand jury investigation and during the trial of Judge Pack, the county's prosecutors relied upon the false testimony of another Wood County employee, Dona Jordan. At all time relevant to the underlying prosecution, Dona Jordan was employed as the clerk of Judge Pack's Justice of the Peace court."

On conviction, the jury assessed a sentence of ten years imprisonment, but the court placed Judge Pack on community supervision. The trail court judge told Pack that if he did not resign his position as justice of the peace and his position as municipal judge for the City of Hawkins, he would be placed in jail. After Pack's resignation, Jordan was appointed to the municipal judge position.

The suit concludes with a request that a jury be convened to try "the factual issues in this case." And closes with the "Plaintiff demands judgment against the Defendant in an amount well in excess of $75,000, exclusive of costs and interest, plus pre-judgment and post-judgment interest, costs of Court, and such further relief, general and special, both at law or in equity, to which Plaintiff may show himself justly entitled."

Damages claimed must be at least $75,000 for a case of this kind to be heard in federal court.

Additionally, a jury in this type of case has substantial latitude, if they find in favor of a plaintiff. They can, cumulatively, award not only the actual costs incurred by the plaintiff, they can additionally award an amount they consider appropriate for pain, suffering, or loss of reputation.

Pack's conviction for aggravated perjury by a Wood County trial court was reversed and a judgment of acquittal was rendered by a decision on April 25, 2007, from the Sixth Court of Appeals in Texarkana.

At the time, Pack said, "Justice is finally done. It's been a long time coming."

In 2004, when he was a county JP, Pack testified before a Wood County grand jury concerning an allegation that a week before the 2000 primary election, Pack had reported to Child Protective Services that a Wood County man running as a primary candidate for constable in Pack's precinct had sexually abused a child. It was alleged that Pack had made a false report

An official investigation into the report of misconduct determined that no official action was warranted. Pack was not charged with filing a false report

Subsequently, the charge was made that Pack falsely testified to the grand jury that an administrator at the Hawkins school telephoned him to report the alleged abuse and the trial court convicted Pack for aggravated perjury. The appeals court found the evidence legally and factually insufficient to support Pack's conviction.

The suit filed on May 16th, states that Pack's testimony before the grand jury was not recorded "even though Article 20 012 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure requires that grand jury testimony be recorded. It was ordinary practice in Wood County to not record grand jury testimony."

The suit also states, "The Plaintiff would further show that the statute of limitations for prosecuting a misdemeanor offense of official oppression or official misconduct is two (2) years. ‘An indictment or information for any misdemeanor may be presented within two years for the date of the commission of the offense, and not afterward.' Therefore, the Wood County District Attorney had no legitimate basis for calling Judge Pack before the grand jury."

Due to the number of procedures involved for both the plaintiff and the defendant, it will likely be about a year before the case is heard.

Last Updated on Thursday, 16 April 2009 16:19  

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