Suit filed against the city by a probationer is settled
A class action suit filed in April against the City of Cairo, Red Hills Community Probation LLC, and Margaret Crutchfield has been settled, according to attorney K. Todd Butler, who was representing the plaintiff in the case.
Butler said a court order was issued late last week to dismiss the suit and the city’s insurance provider agreed to paying a gross settlement of $25,000 to T.W. Green Jr.
The city was represented in the matter by Thomasville attorney Raleigh Rawlins.
Green pled guilty to possession of less than one ounce of marijuana on May 14, 2014 in Cairo Municipal Court and was sentenced to 12 months probation plus a fine of $1,248 and a $44 per month probation supervision fee, according to court documents. The suit alleged the court made no provision that payment of any part of the fine or costs would be a condition precedent to such persons’ probation.
The suit also alleged that after Green was sentenced, he met with Margaret Crutchfield of Red Hills or another employee of Red Hills and was told an initial payment of $400 was due, and if he failed to pay, a Cairo police officer would jail him until the demanded initial payment was made.
According to court documents, the plaintiff was held until a family member paid the requested $400.
The suit contended that Crutchfield does not have the legal right and authority to jail a newly sentenced probationer who does not make an initial payment.
“This is not necessarily over. As far as Mr. Green’s claim against the city, it has been dismissed with prejudice. He has no more claim against the city. However, it leaves open claims against Red Hills to any member of the class and they could have a claim against the city,” Butler said Tuesday.
Cairo City Municipal Court Judge Joshua C. Bell terminated a contract with Red Hills Community Probation as of June 11, 2015. Bell alerted the company that it would no longer be needed for probation services for the city in a May 11, 2015 letter to Margaret Crutchfield, owner and company CEO.
The termination came shortly after Mrs. Crutchfield and her probation business were named in two lawsuits.
A release agreement between the City of Cairo and Red Hills Community Probation, was approved by the Cairo City Council this week.
Following a brief executive session at the end of its regular meeting Monday night, the council voted to authorize Cairo City Manager Chris Addleton to execute the release. Tom Lehman, attorney for the city council, says contents of the agreement cannot be made public since the other parties have not yet approved it.
Addleton was absent Monday and not available to sign the agreement.
Red Hills Community Probation also provided private probation services to Grady County State Court and Grady County Magistrate Court. Contracts with these two courts were terminated by State Court Judge Bell and Chief Magistrate Lawton Heard earlier this year.
Red Hills has shut down its operations here and is no longer a viable business.