Federal judge allows Grider-Faller suit against nine to stand
In Aug. 31 - Sep. 6, 2006 issue
By Greg Wells, Times Journal Managing Editor
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. - This week Federal Judge Thomas Russell delivered a number of decisions in the lawsuit brought by Leon Grider and James Faller against a number of local officials and business people.
The judge's order dealt with over 20 motions in the case originally filed last April by Grider, a Russell Springs pharmacist and drug store owner, against the nine people he alleges worked together in a plot to wrongfully accuse him of committing crimes. At the same time, he states, the defendants were actually committing crimes against him.
Faller filed papers to join the lawsuit that same month alleging that the same people, with the addition of a few others, were guilty of conspiring to commit crimes against him as well.
In the judge's order this week the defendants' various motions to dismiss the case, or for summary judgment in the case, were denied, allowing Grider's lawsuit to continue. The judge noted this denial is for the original complaint, and that they may file such motions in regard to the amended complaint, as some already have.
The motions to prohibit the amendment to the original lawsuit were also denied by the judge.
Motions by Samuel J. Tarter that he was not properly served were denied and he was given 10 days to respond to the lawsuit.
The motions, responses and counter-motions were set aside regarding issues over having two of the defendants served with the lawsuit, and the plaintiffs were directed to give copies of the papers they wanted served to the Kentucky State Police, so they or the lawyer representing the KSP detective named in the case can serve them.
The suit was brought in the U.S. District Court in Bowling Green by Grider and Faller alleging violations of the federal racketeering, or RICO, laws.
As of the most recent filings in the lawsuit, the following are named as defendants: Russell Springs Police Chief Joe Michael Irvin; Assistant Police Chief for Russell Springs Jamie Rogers; Commonwealth's Attorney Larry Rogers; State Rep. -- and Grider's one-time defense lawyer in the criminal charges against him -- Jeff Hoover; local business man Samuel Tarter, and his mother Russell Springs City Commissioner Rose Tarter; Russell Springs former city attorney David F. Smith; the former Jamestown Police Chief, Joey Hoover, who is now in charge of all law enforcement in Kentucky State Parks; Kentucky State Police Detective Scott Hammond; Russell Springs City Commissioner Carla Grider; as well as Phillip Grider and Leah Wilson, who according to the paperwork filed by Grider and Faller are the witnesses against the pharmacist in his criminal case.
The judge added an admonishment to the order he entered this week.
"Since the filing of the complaint herein on April 13 - the parties to the action have filed thirty-six separate written motion…" the judge wrote. "The court strongly urges that all parties herein be judicious and economical in the filing of motions…"
Faller said he presently has motions in the case that the judge has not ruled on yet, but he said he has filed far fewer than the defendants.
He said that the judge's rulings this week are great news for the plaintiffs.
"I'm ecstatic," Faller said. "I think the courts are going to allow justice to be served."
He said that normally courts had granted broad immunity from civil lawsuits to prosecutors and police officers, but supreme court decisions have allowed judges more latitude to hear cases based on the examination of the methods used by prosecutors and officers.
Faller also raised questions over the representation of some of the defendants.
He said both of the Tarters, whose involvement in the case he contends has no connection to city business, is being represented by the lawyer who is represents the city employees and officials.
Faller questions who is paying Nunery, the lawyer who represents the police chief and others, to represent the Tarters.
Irvin said the city's insurer has contracted with two lawyers to represent the city officials' and employee's interest in the case, and neither of them is Nunery.
The chief and the other defendants in the lawsuit have ardently maintained their innocence of any wrongdoing and many have hired their own attorneys to see to their defense.
There is no uncertainty in Faller about the validity of his and Grider's allegations against the defendants.
"These guys have been running their own form of a mafia for years," Faller said. "Grider and I ended up coming together because we had similar problems with the same people, as many others in the community have."
Among the allegations this summer against the defendants by Grider and Faller are that an expert examiner has told them that the video tape evidence against Grider has been altered.
Faller said a court order has required the police to provide the originals for examination, which he has said they've told him they aren't able to find.
Irvin and Nunery both stated that there is no problem finding the tapes and that the court has ordered those tapes examined by an expert, once who that expert will be can be agreed upon by both parties in the suit. And before that happens, Irvin said, a verified copy will have to be made to be retained in evidence as insurance should the original become lost or damaged in any way.
Nunery said there was nothing surprising in the court order this week. He said filing under the federal RICO laws, such as this one, require a large amount of substantiating evidence to prove an organized conspiracy.
He said that the defense motions have been contending that such a body of evidence hasn't been presented and Nunery said he expects that because the case was filed pro-se, or without a lawyer, the judge has been extending leniency toward Faller and Grider to allow them to present their evidence.
The judge will address motions to dismiss and for summary judgment, Nunery said, after the judge is sure that the plaintiffs have had ample opportunity to present their evidence.
||Truth in Justice