Lawsuit against prosecutors can move forward -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Lawsuit against prosecutors can move forward

By Jim Wallace - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) -A federal judge rules that an Albany man's lawsuit against two South Georgia District Attorneys and a Chief Investigator can move forward.

State law protects prosecutors from most lawsuits.

But Judge Louis Sands would not dismiss this federal lawsuit charging misconduct by former Dougherty District Attorney Ken Hodges and Houston District Attorney Kelly Burke.

In 2005 Charles Rehberg was indicted three times, arrested for aggravated assault and harrassing phone call.  Rehberg charges in his lawsuit he was targeted by former Dougherty Judicial Circuit District Attorney Ken Hodges and Houston Judicial Circuit D.A. Kelly Burke for his role as a whistle blower making the Phoebe Factoids. They were faxes sent across Albany in 2003 alleging abuses by Phoebe Putney Hospital executives.

Hodges used his office power to subpoena phone records to track down the Factoid authors. Burke was brought in to prosecute the charges later. All the charges were dismissed May 1, 2006.

Rehberg said "I want to clear my reputation. I want to go to trial. I want to put this in front of a jury. I think when that happens I will feel vindicated."

Rehberg filed a federal suit against Hodges, his chief Investigator Jim Paulk, and Burke claiming his constitutional rights were violated by the prosecutors. The D.A.'s asked that the suit be dismissed because prosecutors are immune from lawsuits. But Judge Sands ruled the suit should not be dismissed because of charges of prosecutorial misconduct.

In his ruling Sands said "Plantiff's complaint is replete with allegations of fabrication of evidence and improper instigation of criminal charges, e.g., issuance of fraudulent and illegal subpoenas. "Fabricating incriminating evidence violates constitutional rights."

Rehberg said "I feel good in the Judge's order he made it very clear that in his courtroom no one is above the law."

Hodges and Burke are being represented by lawyers from the state Attorney Generals office. Hodges and his attorney said they had no comment on the ruling.

Rehberg said his lawyer will now seek a scheduling order to set a trial date.


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