Schedule set for hearings in lawsuit against Trinity Co. sheriff-elect

Constable Woody Wallace
Constable Woody Wallace

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - A schedule for preliminary hearings and trial have been set for a civil lawsuit against a Trinity County constable who has been elected to take over as sheriff in 2013.

The lawsuit alleges that Woody Wallace violated their son's constitutional rights by allegedly searching the boy for drugs at a Trinity High School football game in August 2011, performing an eye dilation test, and detaining the child "without probable cause."

The jury selection and trial are scheduled for Jan. 13, 2014. About 20 other deadlines are scheduled from now until then.

Steve and Crissy Stephens are seeking unspecified damages for their son's past and future private education expenses, emotional and mental trauma, pain and suffering, legal fees associated with appealing Trinity ISD's "erroneous ruling," and court costs.

The petition states the couple's son was 11-years-old when the alleged incident occurred in August 2011. Wallace allegedly approached the boy and his grandfather when they were leaving a football game and accused the child of making a drug purchase.

"Despite (the son's) protestations of innocence and the grandfather's objections to Wallace's conduct, Wallace, with probable cause, searched (the son), performed an eye dilation test, and unlawfully detained and questioned the minor child," the petition states.

Later that month, the couple received a call from Trinity Intermediate School which informed them that their son was being suspended from school for his involvement in an alleged drug transaction that occurred at the football game, the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit states that Wallace had contacted Trinity ISD's superintendent about the alleged drug deal at the football game despite the facts that the son was never arrested, arrested, or referred to juvenile authorities about the alleged delinquent conduct. In addition, no drugs were found on the boy, and he wasn't found to be under the influence of any illegal substances, according to the petition.

Even though the parents exhausted their administrative remedies with the school, their son was still referred to the Disciplinary Alternative Education Program for committing a Level IV violation of the school's Student Code of Conduct, the petition states.

The couple also claims that Wallace harassed the family in and around Trinity County during the appeals process.

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