Lawsuit against officials dismissed
Gary Pinnell | Highlands TodaySEBRING - A federal lawsuit by an alleged dogfighter against two Florida sheriffs and an assistant state attorney has been dismissed.
Published: February 19, 2013
Published: February 19, 2013
James Thomas Reed filed the case for himself on Jan. 24 in U.S. District Court for the middle district of Florida. The defendants were Asst. State Attorney Pete Barone, Highlands County; Highlands County Sheriff Susan Benton; Polk County; and Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.
Reed represented himself before U.S. District Judge James S. Moody Jr.
According to a footnote on page one of the dismissal order: "Although Reed is labeled as plaintiff on the docket, he is actually the defendant in this action because he seeks to have the State of Florida's criminal prosecution against him removed to federal court, not allege new claims in federal court."
Reed alleges the "State of Florida has deprived (him) of his constitutional right to merely possess and sell pit bulls, perfectly legal activities …"
However, in the previous paragraph, Judge Moody noted Reed was arrested at a dog fight on Dec. 6, 2011. He was charged with 29 counts of possessing an animal to fight, and 10 counts of cruelty to an animal.
Moody found that Reed did not prove his civil rights were violated "because he fails to show he has been denied those rights in state court."
Reed's case was remanded back to Highlands County. Reed had been scheduled for a Dec. 10 trial. Instead, Circuit Court Judge Angela Cowden has scheduled Reed to be back in court at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Two more co-defendants will appear at the same time: Corey Lee Love, accused of six counts of possessing fighting animals and cruelty to animals; and Ernest Reed, five counts of cruelty to animals, possessing fighting animals and resisting an officer.
A fourth defendant, Sylvester David Sims Jr., charged with five similar counts, is to reappear in court March 25.
The Reeds and Sims were arrested behind the Sims' home after Highlands County Deputy Bret Hinkle witnessed a man holding a small dog within a rectangular arena where tires were stacked, according to a sheriff's office news release.
Several of Ernest Reed's dogs had "old wounds and scars that are consistent with fighting," Hinkle's report added. Investigators also found syringes, wound medicine, a medical staple gun and various animal medicines, the report states.
Authorities found two treadmills at 4807 High Ave. covered with animal hair, feces and urine, and a wooden box with an open floor. That indicated the dogs were being trained for fighting, a subsequent deputy's report said.
The Reeds and Sims ran when they saw Hinkle. The deputy chased and arrested all three.
Sims was found in the attic of his home. The report said Sims stated he was sleeping and did not know what was going on. Sims added he was hiding because of active warrants for his arrest.
Quandra Nicole Brown-Sims, 29, of 4807 High Ave., was arrested a week later. She negotiated a no-contest plea to five counts of cruelty to animals and selling, possessing or using an animal to fight or bait. Cowden required Brown-Sims to serve four years probation, complete 50 hours of community service, pay $3,258 in fines and court costs and not own any pit bull dogs while on probation.
firstname.lastname@example.org (863) 386-5828