TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Smith County is requesting to be dismissed from a federal lawsuit filed by a former county judge candidate.
John Furlow, a Tyler accountant, is suing former political opponent Joel Baker, Tyler police officer Dennis Mathews, the City of Tyler, and the county for alleged malicious criminal prosecution and Constitutional rights violations stemming from his arrest for allegedly stealing Baker's campaign signs during the 2014 election cycle. The case ended in a mistrial, and the theft charge was dismissed several months later.
Furlow claims in the lawsuit that Smith County is liable because Baker was the "final policymaker for Smith County."
The county's response, filed May 14, states that the commissioner's court is the principal governing body and that the county sheriff is the final policymaker on law enforcement matters, rather than the county judge as Furlow's lawsuit claims.
The county also points to U.S. Code 1983, in which a municipality is not held liable for the actions of an employee unless they are directly related to a policy of that agency.
The federal judge assigned to the case will now decide if Smith County can be dismissed from the lawsuit.