Tag: settlement

Jury Trial Loss

Civil Rights Action for Illegal Strip Search of Courtroom Observer [Lamar County, TX]

Civil Rights Action: Ali Jo Burress v. Ronnica Blake, Bobby Joe Hundley, Jr. and John Doe Defendant No. 1
Court: Eastern District of Texas [Sherman Division] [Civil Action No. 4:14-CV-0035]
Results: Jury Trial loss


The plaintiff in this case, Ali Burress, was strip searched by Paris, TX police officer Ronnica Blake after 6th District Judge Eric Clifford [Lamar County, TX] ordered her to do so when Ali allegedly mouthed the words, “I love you,” to a murder trial defendant.

Ali sued sued various Lamar County officials for the unlawful strip search on December 20, 2013.  She deposed Clifford and Blake under oath.

On June 29, 2015, Ali phoned Lamar County 911 in the middle of the night pleading for help.  She explained her car had become disabled in rural South Lamar County.  Some minutes later, her phone went dead while speaking to 911. Among the last things she said to the 911 operator was she could see the lights of first responders nearing her location.  Responders found Ali’s disabled car where she described it would be found; however, responders advised they did not find Ali with the car as she advised on the phone and as cell phone tower triangulation records indicated she should be.  A manhunt of several days followed.  A helicopter, tracking dogs, drones and officers on horseback were used.  She was not found.

This case went to jury trial January 23, 2017 without Ali to testify on her own behalf.  However, because the defense had deposed Ali during pretrial litigation, excerpts of the deposition were read to the jury to try to relate what happened to her.  Officer Blake testified that Ali volunteered to disrobe in the grand jury bathroom of the Lamar County Courthouse and volunteered to squat and cough for her.

With no victim to appear on the witness stand, the jury found Ali’s civil rights had not been violated.  On March 16, 2017 – six weeks after the trial – Ali’s decomposed body was found approximately one mile from where her disabled car was found that night by first responders….


Civil Rights Action for Unreasonable Use of Force [Choctaw County, OK]

Action: Civil Rights Action Against Choctaw County Law Enforcement for Unreasonable Use of Force
Case: Booth, et al v. Ben Milner, et al [CIV 09-396-SPS]
Court: Eastern District of Oklahoma [Muskogee]
Result: Case settled for money damages and Choctaw County deputy convicted in federal court


Choctaw County Sheriff Deputy Ben Milner and six other law enforcement officers stormed the Choctaw County Jail one night because inmates allegedly flooded a cell by stuffing a roll of toilet paper in the commode. Milner ordered all four plaintiffs face down on the floor of the flooded cell, entered with an axe handle and beat them on the back.

Haslam sued the officers, the county and various other governmental entities for violating the plaintiffs’ civil rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C.A. 1983. The case was settled for money damages.

After the settlement, Haslam worked with the FBI and prosecutors from the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice to prosecute Milner criminally. Milner was convicted of several crimes by a jury in federal court and imprisoned.