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.