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Ridgell v. City of Pine Bluff

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Pine Bluff Division

May 15, 2018

ALBERT RIDGELL PLAINTIFF
v.
CITY OF PINE BLUFF, A Public Body Corporate and Politic; and DEBE HOLLINGSWORTH, In Her Individual and Official Capacity as Mayor for the City of Pine Bluff, Arkansas DEFENDANTS

          ORDER

          D.P. Marshall Jr. United States District Judge

         The Court appreciates the parties' recent filings, No. 47 & No. 48. The Court has revised the voir dire along the lines the Defendants proposed. Updated version attached, which the Court will use. The changes are on page 7. Because there's been no objection, the Court will lock in and give the preliminary instructions in No. 46 at 12-32. The Court prefers its draft final jury instructions on the § 1981/§ 1983 issues. But, we will talk further about them during the trial before the Court comes to a final decision. The Defendants' record is preserved in any event.

         On qualified immunity: Hollingsworth made no timely motion for it; this is an issue of law for the Court, not one of fact for the jury. Hollingsworth is, of course, free to move for judgment on this basis after Ridgell rests. And if she does, the Court will rule on the defense based on the record at that point.

         So Ordered.

         (1) VOIR DIRE

         A. Preliminaries

• Thank you for serving. Echo "Called to Serve''

• A morning of speaking the truth, voir dire - twelve people good and true.

• All week.

• Urgent or extraordinary obligations this week?

• Rules of the Road:

- Can I be completely fair and impartial?

- Can I decide the case based solely on the evidence seen and heard in this courtroom, the law as explained by the Court, and my common sense?

- Questions and Answers. You = you and your immediate family.

- Raise your hand, state your name, and answer.

- Can answer at the bench if uncomfortable answering a particular question in front of others.

- Eighteen, but all - Notepads.

- Questionnaires. Summary. Confirm lawyers have.

- Case Sketch - Not evidence, just background

i. This is a civil case. In June 2007, Albert Ridgell was hired by the City of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, as the City Collector by then-mayor Carl Redus. Debe Hollingsworth was elected mayor in November 2012, and was sworn in the following January. About seven months later, in July 2013, Mayor Hollingsworth discharged Ridgell. He was reinstated in August, after appealing his discharge to the City Council. Ridgell was again discharged by Mayor Hollingsworth in October 2013. Ridgell contends that he was discharged because of his race, and in retaliation for having opposed discriminatory practices by Mayor Hollingsworth and Pine Bluff. Mayor Hollingsworth and Pine Bluff deny those claims. They say Ridgell was discharged for unsatisfactory job performance and insubordination.

• Introductions

- Plaintiff = Albert Ridgell Lawyer = Austin Porter Jr.

- Defendants = City of Pine Bluff, and Mayor Debe Hollingsworth

Lawyers = Amanda LaFever & John Wilkerson

- Witnesses [Read Lists]

- Know the parties? Lawyers? Witnesses?

         B. Call Eighteen, But All - Notepads

         C. General Background Questions

         • Know other panel members? Know lawyers or Court staff? Know witnesses?

         • Legal training or experience? Deal with the law regularly through work?

         • Prior jury service?

         • Prior court experience? Sued or been sued? Witness?

         • Religious convictions against ...


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