Looking for safety when subpoenaed

Published: Jul. 2, 2010 at 10:31 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 5, 2010 at 1:41 PM CDT
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Posted by Morgan Chesky - bio | email

By Courtney Lane - bio | email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - The tragic death of Cherry Walker has raised a question. If you're called to testify in court but feel it may put you in danger...what help is out there? We've all heard of the federal protection program, but the local level has its own options.

Tyler attorney Bobby Mims remembers a horrific case in 1998. Tracy Mize was kidnapped and shot multiple times because he knew about a woman's murder and was called as a witness.

"He didn't show up for court," said Mims. "Several months later his body or what was remained of it was found in a septic tank."

Mims and local law enforcement say fortunately cases of retaliation are extremely rare here in East Texas, unlike other places.

"You know the drug cases and some of the cartel stuff a lot of the retaliation is going on the other side of the border," said Mims.

In federal cases, the U.S. Marshal's office can provide witness protection, but if it's a civil case and you feel threatened Mims says notify law enforcement. "I have friends on the police department, they do a good job on it. They have to be alerted though...everybody that gets a subpoena doesn't get police protection, it's not practical." said Mims.

Police departments we talked to say it's case by case. If they deem it's high profile and threats are serious enough, they can offer protection. What you may do first as a precautionary measure is file paperwork.

"you can file a restraining order and have that other person served, maybe even a protective order. Those things are routinely issued in divorce cases and family violence."

But Mims adds if you're seeking protection from someone prone to violence that paperwork might not be enough. So stay with friends, don't put out personal information on social networking sites and immediately alert authorities if it becomes more severe.

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