Jena Six fund could go to the White Student who was beat up

Great Article from The Shreveport Times

It could be the Barker family, not the families of the Jena Six, who receive the money from Jena Six Defense Fund.

Pineville attorney Henry Lemoine Jr., representing Justin Barker and his family, said the fund could be used as restitution if the Barkers win their civil lawsuit against the Jena Six and their families.

 

The petition, filed Nov. 29, also seeks unspecified damages from the LaSalle School Board and a seventh student, Malcolm Shaw.

Lemoine said at this point in time, he’s unsure how much money the Barkers are seeking. But Justin Barker’s medical bills in connection with the Dec. 4, 2006, attack on him alone have totaled more than $19,000, Lemoine said.

LaSalle schools Superintendent Roy Breithaupt declined to comment on the case or say who is representing the School Board in the matter. LaSalle District Attorney Reed Walters normally is the attorney for the school system but won’t be representing it in this case because it could be seen as a conflict of interest, Walters’ spokesman Bill Furlow said.

Messages left for several attorneys for the Jena Six students and their parents went unreturned.

Bob Noel, one of the attorneys representing Mychal Bell in his criminal proceedings, said he hasn’t been contacted about the civil lawsuit and has no plans to get involved in it.

The lawsuit alleges Justin Barker is entitled to monetary damages for, among other claims, past and future mental and physical pain; loss of future wages and the ability to learn job skills due to injuries; loss of consortium; loss of the ability to enjoy life; and permanent physical damage.

The lawsuit also alleges damages and injuries to Barker’s parents, David and Kelli, including past and future medical expenses for Justin and consortium with Justin.

“They didn’t ask for this,” Lemoine said of the Barkers and the attention this case has brought them and the effects of the attack on Justin. “These are very private people. They did nothing to get involved in all this. It has been thrust upon them.”

Lemoine said the Barker family didn’t want to file the petition then decided it is in their son’s best interest.

“This has had a tremendous effect on them,” Lemoine said of the events of the past year. “It has been especially difficult on Justin. They are not bringing action to get publicity but justice for Justin. His whole life was flipped upside down.”

Listed as defendants in the lawsuit are Melissa Bell and Marcus Jones, parents of Mychal Bell; Tina Jones and Billy Purvis, parents of Bryant Purvis; Caseptla Bailey and Robert Bailey Sr., parents of Robert Bailey Jr.; D’Wanda Jones and John Jenkins, parents of Carwin Jones; Jackie Shaw and Theodore McCoy, parents of Theodore Shaw; and Jerry Beard and Stella Beard Todd, parents of Jesse Ray Beard.

All of the students, but minors Mychal Bell and Jesse Ray Beard, were also listed as defendants, including Malcolm Shaw.

Shaw’s name hasn’t publicly been linked with the Jena Six. And Furlow said Walters “unequivocally” said Shaw has not been charged in connection with the attack on Barker. There are only six defendants, Walters said.

And any talk of a deal between Walters and Shaw to avoid prosecution is untrue, Furlow said.

Lemoine said that they are in the early stages of investigating for the lawsuit and that he’s been told a witness connects Shaw to the attack. If during the investigation they discover any of the listed defendants didn’t play a part in either the actual act or liability, that person will be removed from the case, Lemoine said.

Lemoine said race has been one of the issues constantly tied to the attack on his client. But Lemoine said he’s looking at the case with “colorless” eyes.

“A lot has arisen out of this situation and clouded the real issues,” he said, citing the injuries Barker sustained. “Maybe it has brought focus on some things that needed to be looked at, but my job is to try to see that justice is served.”

Barker still is being evaluated medically for injuries to his eyes and ears, Lemoine said.

Bell is the only defendant to face trial. The rest of the five are awaiting trial on one count each of aggravated second-degree battery and conspiracy to commit that crime. Those charges were once as high as attempted murder.

Bell pleaded guilty Monday to second-degree battery — a reduced charged. As part of the agreement, Walters dropped the conspiracy charge.

Bell was sentenced to 18 months in a juvenile facility with that sentence to run concurrently with another 18-month sentence he received for three previous juvenile adjudications.

He will receive credit only for the time he served in connection with the Dec. 4, 2006, incident — from December to his release on Sept. 27, according to the court. The time Bell served in Alexandria’s Renaissance Home for Youth from Oct. 11 until his guilty plea won’t be counted as credit toward his second-degree battery sentence.

The amount of actual time Bell will remain at Renaissance or any other juvenile facility is in the hands of the Office of Youth Development.

An initial assessment of Bell recommended nonsecured custody.

And Bell’s attorneys said they assume a second assessment will determine the same. That means Bell will probably undergo counseling and treatment with the goal of reintegration into the school system, society and, eventually, his family’s home, the attorneys said.

8 Comments

Filed under abuse, african american, angry, black, black man, children, drama, injustice, interracial, jena 6, money, news, race, racism, student, white folks, youth

8 Responses to Jena Six fund could go to the White Student who was beat up

  1. Cami B

    Have you read the comments on the original article in the Shreveport Times? Wow is all I have to say. Check it out.

    But on this issue, I have mixed feelings. Honestly I think the Barkers have a valid case against the Jena 6. Regardless of the reason, they did physically assault him to the point of it resulting in hospital bills. And those bills should be paid by money given to them. I don’t think it is right for the families to have spent that money so irresponsibly. And while it was an injustice for them to be facing as much criminal prosecution as they were. They did not deserve to be rewarded for their actions. Both parties were wrong. That’s my opinion. And I do think that if money was donated to the Jena 6, some of that should go towards solving the deeper issue by getting those boys some counseling. All of them including Justin Barker. And the families of the Jena 6 should be held responsible for the medical bills the assult resulted in.

  2. D Money

    Cami B.,

    What evidence do you have tha tthe fmaiies spent any of hte money irresponsibly????

    Also, Barker and his attorney will need to prove by a preponderance opf th eevidene that each defendant whom he names in his suit is actually repsonsible for his injuries. All of hte witness statements I have seen refer only to “a grop of black kids” who beat him up. that’s why th eD.A. never really had enough to make a conviction stand up on appeal (beyond hte jurisdictinal issues, etc.). It will also likley come out that Barker contributed to the situation by using racial epithets towards black students, perhaps on the same day as the beat-down.

    An ugly situation all around. It’s also funny how Barker’s bills suddenly shot up to $19,000. They were allegedly much lower not very long ago. His family should only be reimbursed for “usual and customary” fees — just like the insurance companies do it!

  3. Blair

    One member of the Jena Six has already pleaded guilty to second-degree battery and has accepted a plea bargain agreement to testify against the other defendants in exchange for a reduced sentence. The evidence against the rest of the Jena Six is already overwhelming. There were many witnesses to the attack, including coaches and teachers as well as students. The remaining Jena Six defendants are almost certain to be convicted is their cases go to trial. However, they will probably follow Mychal Bell’s lead by pleading guilty in exhange for reduced sentences. Justin Barker’s attorney’s will use the convictions or guilty pleas in the civil trail.

    The extent of Justin Barker’s injuries is unlikely to be much of an issue in the civil trial. Attorneys for the Barkers will simply produce the hospital bills.

    Allegations that Barker taunted members of the Jena Six with racial slurs have been lodged by Jena Six family members, but these allegations are not supported by the witnesses who were present at the scene. Following the Jena Six beating incident, the Justice Department reopened its investigation into the noose-hanging incident and determined there was no link between the nooses and the beating. U.S. Attorney Donald Washington told CNN that, “A lot of things happened between the noose hanging and the fight occurring, and we have arrived at the conclusion that the fight itself had no connection.” He added that none of the black students involved in the beating made “any mention of nooses, of trees, of the ‘N’ word or any other word of racial hate.”

  4. This is a sad situation all around, as a commenter mentioned, and it would be great if the core issues of this case could be solved: ignorance and racial intolerance. That’s what it all boils down to, it seems to me. If that noose had never been hung on that tree, I don’t think that physical altercation (one of many, I heard in one story) would have taken place — not that violence is ever the suggested solution in such a situation.

    That’s the problem with America and one it doesn’t look like we’ll ever get over — race. The fool (I forget his name) who came up with the concept should have been shot the minute he opened up his hateful mouth. There is no such things as race. The color/tone of your skin doesn’t predispose you to anything…NOTHING. However, your education, socio-economic status, the place where you live, etc. — those things can say quite a bit about you. But you know what, even that statement is flawed. I guess it just comes down to the simple statement of ‘people are people’.

    And as it’s been said before, if it’s not ‘race’ then it’s bound to be something else.

  5. Cami B

    In response to D-Money:

    I don’t have any evidence of anything sweetie. I’m just voicing my opinion on the subject at hand. But I have read articles and blogs stating that some of the Jena 6 young men were posting pictures of themselves on myspace with hundred dollar bills in their mouths and the families buying Jaguars. So I know as much about this story and situation as anybody on the outside relying on media and blogs pertaining to it. I am not familiar with any of these people personally and therefore have no personal ties to them. So why would I have any evidence supporting anything pertaining to the situation? Seriously…..
    I was just giving my opinion. And as I said before, I am aware that Justin allegedly taunted them with racial slurs but where is the accountability? Do words give you the right to act a fool? It’s more about having personal control of your emotions and actions. And while they were upset, rightly so if he was trash talking and using racial slurs they could have walked away from the situation. People piss other people off on a daily basis by running their mouths. I work in a government building and I deal with crazies and irrate people every day. And I’ve been called everything you can think of by some ignorant people. But do you think I’m about to risk my job and my freedom by going upside somebody’s head over some foolishness? No. It’s called making smart choices. And again, like I said, I agree that the charges they were facing were unfair in the eyes of the law. But they need some counseling all of them so they can learn better ways to deal with anger and difficult situations to keep them from getting in trouble in the future. If the core problems with these boys are not addressed they will go off into the world thinking its okay to whoop somebody’s a– whenever they piss you off . And the reality is that just because somebody says something you don’t like you cannot physically harm them. As much as I would like to b–ch slap my boss I can’t do it because my black a– will be in jail, period. And if they don’t learn these life lessons they will be in a worse situation 5 years from now and the outcome may be worse. They could kill somebody, accidentally. And see how many people will be willing to march for them then? Justin obviously needs counseling too if he is spouting hate and intolerance. And again, only opinion sweetie.

  6. crazyfolk

    I wish we knew exactly what Justin said. It doesn’t change the legal case, but it will change the public opinion.

  7. Blair

    According to witness statements, the Jena Six weren’t angry at Justin Barker because of anything his said to them but because of things they heard he had said to other students. Three-days prior to the beating incident, Robert Bailey, one of the Jena Six, had been involved in a fight with a 22-year-old white male at a private party. According to bloggers who claim to have read the witness statements, Barker told other students that Bailey “got his butt kicked,” or words to that effect. This filtered back to the Jena Six.

    Many schoolyard fights, regardless of the participants race, have started over similiar incidents. Usually these fights are of little consequence. Most are handled as school disciplianry problems. For example, weeks before the Jena Six attack, a black student hit a white student in the back of the head as he walked down the hallway. Although the white student required stitches, the incident, which school administrators say was not racially motivated, was handled internally. It was not reported to police.

    However, the Jena Six beating became a criminal case the moment an ambulance was called. It is the nature of the attack–six or seven to one–the fact that the Jena Six kicked Barker in the head as he lay unconscious, and the seriousness of Barker’s injuries that led to criminal charges.

  8. Dee Dee

    As a young black woman, I agree that the Barkers have a valid case against the Jena 6. They are the cause of his hospital bills and should pay for them but as for the money specifically raised for the Jena 6 being rewarded to the Barkers that I don’t agree with. The people who set out raising those funds raised it for the Jena 6 not as compensation for the Barkers.

    Sure should the Jena 6 CHOOSE to use those funds in helping to pay for his medical expenses that’s one thing but for the court to decide that those funds be used for that reason whether the funders like it or not is BS.

    Unfortunately, all any of us can do is speculate on what really happened. I don’t agree with what the Jena 6 did but that is a pretty powerful word and it holds a deeper meaning then someone calling you a loser or a dork or a freak. Historically, every race has a “word” that just crosses the line into something much more deeper and profound. The “n” word is unacceptable whether its uttered by black people or white people and should find its way into extinction.

    As children of God, we all need to learn to respect one another. Had the school handled things accordingly with the whole tree situation all of this could have been avoided. I feel it’s all just a chain reaction to laziness, ignorance and self justification. Wrong is wrong. They were all wrong as far as I’m concerned the school, the city, the boy(s) with the alleged racial slurs and the Jena 6. Someone has to step up and do what’s right and put a end to all this madness.

    I’ve certainly learned from this incident and hope to pass on a better knowledge and understanding to my children as a result. “Respect” is what it’s all about even if you don’t like someone, respect can get you a long way. Peace and love my brothers and sisters!

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