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Court dismisses photograph suit

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A man's pro se prisoner suit against the public information officer of a correctional facility and a reporter that he claimed are responsible for his shooting injury was dismissed Tuesday by a U.S. District Court judge. The claims weren't actionable under the prisoner's 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 complaint.

In Shandonn M. Shepherd v. Trevor Wendzoka and Jeff Burton, No. 3:08-cv-605, Shandonn Shepherd filed his suit against Trevor Wendzoka, as PIO of the Elkhart County Correctional Facility, and Jeff Burton, a reporter for the Elkhart Truth newspaper, after he was shot in a drive-by shooting in June following his release from the facility.

Several months earlier, a photograph of Shepherd was released to the media by Wendzoka following a murder in which Tyrus Coleman was sought for questioning. Shepherd claimed the drive-by shooting was in retaliation for his being linked to a murder by the newspaper using his photograph instead of a picture of Coleman.

Shepherd claimed his mother told Burton he had the wrong photograph, but Burton ignored her and published an article with his picture. Shepherd alleged Wendzoka libeled his character and exposed him to risk of injury by releasing his photograph to the media.

However, in 2005, Shepherd had given authorities Coleman's name when he was arrested in an unrelated incident. He was later charged with false informing once police discovered Shepherd's true identity; the photo was never updated with the correct information.

In his suit, Shepherd wanted $750,000 for his medical bills and as a result of his reputation being ruined because of the published photo.

U.S. District Judge Joseph Van Bokkelen of Indiana's Northern District dismissed the complaint because claims for slander and defamation aren't actionable under Section 1983, so Shepherd doesn't have a claim against Wendzoka. He also failed to state a claim against Burton because Burton is a newspaper reporter and wasn't acting under color of state law when he printed Shepherd's photograph.

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  1. It appears the police and prosecutors are allowed to change the rules halfway through the game to suit themselves. I am surprised that the congress has not yet eliminated the right to a trial in cases involving any type of forensic evidence. That would suit their foolish law and order police state views. I say we eliminate the statute of limitations for crimes committed by members of congress and other government employees. Of course they would never do that. They are all corrupt cowards!!!

  2. Poor Judge Brown probably thought that by slavishly serving the godz of the age her violations of 18th century concepts like due process and the rule of law would be overlooked. Mayhaps she was merely a Judge ahead of her time?

  3. in a lawyer discipline case Judge Brown, now removed, was presiding over a hearing about a lawyer accused of the supposedly heinous ethical violation of saying the words "Illegal immigrant." (IN re Barker) http://www.in.gov/judiciary/files/order-discipline-2013-55S00-1008-DI-429.pdf .... I wonder if when we compare the egregious violations of due process by Judge Brown, to her chiding of another lawyer for politically incorrectness, if there are any conclusions to be drawn about what kind of person, what kind of judge, what kind of apparatchik, is busy implementing the agenda of political correctness and making off-limits legit advocacy about an adverse party in a suit whose illegal alien status is relevant? I am just asking the question, the reader can make own conclsuion. Oh wait-- did I use the wrong adjective-- let me rephrase that, um undocumented alien?

  4. of course the bigger questions of whether or not the people want to pay for ANY bussing is off limits, due to the Supreme Court protecting the people from DEMOCRACY. Several decades hence from desegregation and bussing plans and we STILL need to be taking all this taxpayer money to combat mostly-imagined "discrimination" in the most obviously failed social program of the postwar period.

  5. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

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