Trial of Quincy woman against CHP set to begin
Opening statements are scheduled to begin at 8:30 Wednesday morning, June 13, in a civil trial pitting a Quincy woman against the California Highway Patrol.
The jury trial is taking place at Plumas County Superior Court in Quincy.
Ruth Jackson’s lawsuit stems from her Sept. 12, 2009, arrest and jailing by the CHP on charges of driving under the influence.
Jackson’s civil complaint against the CHP stated she had a blood alcohol level of 0.00 and had no drugs in her system at the time of her arrest.
The jury selection process took place on Tuesday. Visiting Judge Thomas E. Warriner read instructions to the 10-woman, three-man jury before dismissing them about 2:30 p.m.
The trial is expected to last into early next week.
Jackson’s lawsuit names CHP Officers Lacey Heitman, Jim Wheaton and former Quincy Area Commander Paul Davis as defendants.
The civil complaint listed seven causes of action: “false arrest; false imprisonment; battery; intentional infliction of emotional distress; negligent hiring, training and supervision of officers; negligent infliction of emotional distress; and unlawful search and seizure.”
In the complaint, Jackson said she was pulled over after she exited an Oktoberfest event at the Blairsden Barn, where she was working as a volunteer.
The complaint indicated Jackson drove 150 feet to a stop sign and turned left onto Highway 70, before being pulled over less than half a mile later.
The brief said Jackson was told she failed to make a complete stop at the intersection, which she stated was not the case.
The narrative stated that the officers noticed bottles of alcohol in the trunk of Jackson’s car when she opened it to get her driver’s license out of her purse.
According to Jackson’s complaint, the officers ignored her explanations that she was volunteering at the event and was bringing the bottles home to be recycled.
The brief stated that a portable breathalyzer registered Jackson’s blood alcohol level at 0.00.
Jackson said she told the officers she hadn’t taken a prescription drug in more than 12 hours and had never used narcotics.
The complaint alleged the officers didn’t take into account that Jackson had had 12 foot surgeries when she had trouble with “fine balancing” during the field sobriety tests.
According to the narrative, Jackson was arrested at 10 p.m. and was never contacted by a certified drug recognition expert at any point during her encounter with the CHP.
The complaint stated that after Jackson was taken to the CHP office in Quincy, her request to call her husband, local attorney Michael Jackson, was denied.
The court document stated that Jackson was transported in handcuffs to the Plumas County Jail for blood testing, which detected no drugs.
According to the narrative, the test results arrived after Jackson spent a night in jail.
The complaint said that two days after the arrest, an unidentified CHP officer read a police blotter over the local radio station, identifying Jackson by her name, age and residence and asserting that she had been arrested for driving under the influence of Oxycontin.
After the radio broadcast, a press release by Jackson’s daughter – who is also her attorney – Julia Jackson stated the radio report was “especially shocking because they named a specific drug, one widely associated with abuse, when no drug testing had been initiated and no drugs had been found in Mrs. Jackson’s car or on her person.”
The report indicated the district attorney declined to prosecute the case after receiving the evidence.