Second Verse, Same as the First? Lawyers Tackle Sheriff Smith's Repeated Dismissal Bid in $5M Suit
Written by: Sam Orlando
STAUNTON, VA — Marvin Harris's fight against alleged police brutality continues to escalate, as a second law firm joins his legal crusade against Augusta County's Sheriff and his deputies. In a recent court filing, Harris's newly bolstered team delivered a fervent response to the Sheriff's second motion to dismiss, emphasizing the gravity of the accusations. Sheriff Smith has already lost one motion to dismiss.
According to the latest documents filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia, Harris’s legal team argues vehemently against the Sheriff’s repeated move to have the case dismissed. The motion notes: “Plaintiff has pleaded that Smith had prior knowledge... [and took] proactive steps based on this knowledge to insulate the behavior from punishment." In other words, Harris's lawyers argue that Smith is responsible for the racist beating that Harris suffered because he took active steps to protect those who assaulted him.
The Sheriff's dismissal strategy was, as Harris’s attorneys put it, "foundationally on a flawed standard and negative inference.” Essentially, the legal argument presented by the Sheriff was lambasted as being superficial, while Harris’s team dug deeper into Virginia case law to establish precedence for their client's claims.
Notably, the filing cites decisions including Puckett v. City of Richmond, asserting the precedent that a sheriff could be liable for the actions of their deputies. The detailed citation serves to reinforce the point, indicating: "a sheriff is civilly liable for all the acts of his deputy... and is liable therefore in the same form of action as if they had been actually committed by himself."
A significant portion of the filing highlights the Sheriff's oversight in addressing state law avenues for liability. As it reads, "The Defendant ignores this, and all possible positive inferences to assume that the claim is one that is not recognized in Virginia." Harris's legal team then proceeds to break down the intricacies of Virginia law, asserting that the Sheriff cannot dismiss intentional torts committed by his officers.
The impassioned argument concludes with an evocative statement: "simply because the Defendant chose to discuss the most disadvantageous form of liability... does not mean that they have come close to their burden on this motion."
Antwhon Suiter, leader of the Shenandoah Valley's Black Lives Matter organization, sees this recent legal move as another step towards broader police accountability. "This case isn't just about Marvin Harris. It's a beacon for others, highlighting the broader societal implications of systemic police violence."
With two law firms now adding their weight behind Harris, the community awaits the court's next move in this pivotal case. As the legal drama unfolds, the nation watches closely, anticipating its implications for the future of Augusta County and it's Sheriff's Office.