Mark and Connie Gordon, the owners of a Trion, Ga., pawnshop, won a $300,000 settlement from Chattooga County, Ga.'s insurer in a civil lawsuit that alleged that former county Sheriff John Everett and Deputy Kandy Dodd forged a warrant to search the couple's home.
"This should be fair notice that the Fourth Amendment in the Bill of Rights is still in full force and effect," said a news release from the Gordons' attorney, Bobby Lee Cook.
The settlement averts a jury trial that had been scheduled for Jan. 14 in federal court in Rome, Ga.
The Gordons' lawsuit claims that on April 14 Dodd obtained a search warrant through the magistrate's office to look through Fleetwood's Pawn, a shop the couple owns in Trion. The warrant claimed that several items from burglaries had been sold through the shop.
The lawsuit alleged that Dodd then went back to get a second search warrant, telling the judge that the first warrant had an error and needed to be changed. Instead, the lawsuit claims, Dodd had written the Gordons' home address in the place of the pawnshop address.
"Dodd knowingly, unlawfully and corruptly, or at least recklessly, misrepresented to the magistrate judge" the difference with the warrants, the lawsuit stated.
No probable cause existed to search the Gordons' house, the suit stated.
The Gordons didn't return a call Monday afternoon to their pawnshop. Everett's cellphone has been disconnected.
Dodd recently has been moved from her detective job to courthouse security, new Sheriff Mark Schrader said.
"We moved several people around," Schrader said.
All sheriff's office employees had to reapply for their jobs, and Schrader decided which positions they would have.
"There were several that were moved and several that were not rehired," he said.
Dodd couldn't be reached for comment.
Cook is so well known that he's said to have been the inspiration for the TV series "Matlock." Also in the Gordons' corner was Cook's partner, Sutton Connelly, and attorney Ranse Partin, of Atlanta.
Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.