by Sam Hieb
Defense attorneys for Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson made a motion to dismiss the case, but U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Schroeder allowed the sheriff’s civil right violations trial to continue even though he will take the defense’s motion under consideration.
A couple of interesting things jump out in the Burlington Times-News coverage. One is Johnson has the support of his county district attorney:
Among other witnesses Tuesday, Alamance County District Attorney Pat Nadolski testified that he was unaware of any racial profiling by the sheriff’s department. Nadolski said he would “absolutely” address a pattern of profiling or discrimination with an officer and their superiors, including Johnson.
“Even if it was not a pattern (of behavior), it would be my duty to. Even if it was a one-time event,” Nadolski said.
Another interesting aspect –part of DOJ’s case has been accusations of Hispanic racial slurs within the sheriff’s department. But here’s the question —is “Mexican” a racial slur?
Even the use of the term “Mexican” was weighed. Several DOJ witnesses claimed they heard Johnson refer to all Hispanics as “Mexican,” or tell deputies to “go get some Mexicans.” At least one officer said he believed Johnson was referring to Mexican drug cartels.
“If Mexican drug dealers are operating in a county, can a sheriff say to arrest a Mexican drug dealer?” Schroeder asked Songer. “What is the sheriff supposed to say? I read in the newspaper all the time about Mexican drug cartels. I have a criminal docket (full of defendants involved with cartels) … How does law enforcement refer to someone that way?”
Songer argued that would still be a violation of the Constitution by making “an express classification” targeting Mexicans.
The trial—unless the case is dismissed— continues today, and I’ve heard from other news sources that Johnson will at some point take the stand.