LIVINGSTON COUNTY – The federal case against Livingston County for alleged abuses at the County Jail could be nearing an end.
Joe Harris, 49, has over the past four years successfully appealed a guilty plea to felony Promoting Prison Contraband, instead pled guilty to felony Attempted Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Third Degree and misdemeanor Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fifth Degree, and appealed those charges as well. He then sued numerous Livingston County employees in one large suit that has arrived in federal court. He maintains that Livingston County Jail staff physically abused him, causing him serious injury, since he first went to the jail on Oct. 4, 2012 and have harassed him ever since, and that several other County agencies mishandled his criminal case.
“I’ve been fighting this for a long time. I’ve been fighting and fighting and fighting,” said Harris. “It beats you up. Feels like I’m getting old. My intent was never to hurt anybody but for the people who hurt me to admit what they have done and then we move on. But they kept saying ‘no, no, no’ and forced me to this.”
Now, there is a chance for a resolution short of federal trial. Federal Justice David Larimer ordered Harris and the parties in the lawsuit to negotiate a possible resolution through a moderator.
However, Harris maintains that he is prepared to go to trial against the defendants, which include members of the Livingston County Public Defender’s Office, Probation Department, Sheriff’s Office, and Office of Mental Health.