Maxwell: Skipper suit is silly

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 28, 2007

VIDALIA — Sheriff Randy Maxwell dismissed a lawsuit that alleges he ordered physical and psychological abuse of an inmate as outlandish and political Wednesday.

Maxwell said he found it interesting the news media got wind of the story three days before another candidate announced he was running for sheriff.

“It’s been there for six months,” he said. “Why is it getting attention now?”

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The suit — filed by inmate James Skipper, who is serving a 25-year sentence on a drug conviction — alleges Maxwell had him handcuffed, shackled and his mouth duct-taped in retribution for filing court papers detailing an alleged secret deal made in 2003 to get Skipper released from prison in exchange for support from black voters.

The suit also alleges Skipper was repeatedly pepper-sprayed and subjected to other abuses when he asked to see his lawyer, and he was secretly transported to Angola prison bound and gagged.

The suit was set to go to Judge Kathy Johnson’s court June 22, but was delayed until July 19.

“These claims are so far-fetched and off-the-wall it’s amazing,” Maxwell said.

Skipper is trying to use the news media to draw attention to himself and to try to force a reduction in his sentence, Maxwell said.

“What he is doing is truly an abuse of the system,” Maxwell said. “It ties up the court system, and I hate to see it allowed.”

A person can say anything they want in an affidavit, but that doesn’t mean its true, said Maxwell.

“This conspiracy is a figment of his imagination,” he said. “If even one of these allegations is true, he needs to be talking to the FBI and not messing around in civil court.”

The sheriff’s office and the correctional facilities haven’t historically had abuse charges filed against them, Maxwell said.

A few inmates have filed for what Maxwell calls slip-and-fall incidents, but not abuse, he said.

As for the transfer to Angola, Maxwell said Skipper is an inmate and does not have a right to decide where he gets to serve his sentence.

“I guess if I was in jail, I would say or do whatever I could to get out,” he said.