Overview:

Pretrial motions in Sheriff Victor Hill's federal criminal case show what each side thinks the jury should not hear.

Federal prosecutors and the defense team for Sheriff Victor Hill have submitted motions in limine, asking the judge to declare certain lines of questioning off limits before Hill’s criminal trial scheduled for October 12.

Hill is charged with violating four pretrial detainees’ rights under color of law by allegedly ordering them to be strapped into restraint chairs as punishment. Hill has pleaded not guilty.

The pretrial motions serve not only as a wish list for each side, but also as a kind of playbook for how attorneys might form their arguments during trial:

The defense

Hill’s legal team says it wants to exclude:

  • “evidence of any alleged bad act committed by other employees of the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office” besides Hill
  • “the use of strip searches and/or paper gowns and inmates being placed on suicide watch at the jail”
  • “the decision for mental health placement of inmates and any conditions associated with that decision”
  • inmate access to, and quality of, medical or health care
  • inmate access to legal research or the law library
  • “Nutraloaf” or “veg-loaf”
  • “the physical conditions or quality of the conditions of the jail itself”
  • “the way that deputies are uniformed and/or the type or nature of equipment” they use, like fireams, vehicles, and bulletproof vests
  • jail conditions related to COVID-19
  • “the investigative techniques or procedures of particular units with the Sheriff’s Department and the decisions to utilize a particular unit and or techniques for a particular investigation
  • “any lawsuit, suspension or other indictment” involving Hill
  • testimony from former CCSO employees who might “try to allege that Sheriff Hill engaged in inappropriate behavior, including personal relationships, with employees”
  • implications that CCSO employees took part in “some sort of effort to hide evidence or not cooperate with government investigators”
  • whether the seven inmates in the indictment were arrested legally
  • “evidence of a more personal nature against Sheriff Hill. Specifically,… reference to his interest in the character Batman and its associated symbols”
  • “evidence surrounding who he associates with in his personal capacity (both romantic and platonic)”

Short version: Hill’s defense attorneys don’t want any mentions of jail conditions, jailers, medical treatment, Batman, or alleged romantic encounters brought before the jury.

The prosecution

Federal prosecutors want to exclude:

  • any claims that “the government pursued this prosecution for an improper purpose”
  • “that this is a novel theory of prosecution”
  • “that Hill’s misconduct is minor compared to other law enforcement misconduct”
  • “that the government could have addressed Hill’s misconduct through a civil suit or other remedies short of criminal prosecution”
  • that “Hill’s previous good acts, accolades, commendations, or accomplishments excuse Hill’s [alleged] misconduct”
  • claims that “Hill’s suspension from office has negatively impacted the community or that his conviction in this case would do so”
  • “that the victims’ past or subsequent misconduct or bad acts justify Hill’s unrelated infliction of harm to the victims”
  • “that unrelated incidents of violence in the jail justify Hill’s abusive law enforcement practices”
  • “that Hill’s suspension from office should satisfy the need for justice in this case or other discussions of the potential penalties Hill faces if convicted.”

Short version: The prosecution argues Hill’s social media claims that he is being unfairly targeted by his political enemies should be off-limits to the jury. They also included social media posts from Hill’s Nixle and Facebook accounts, as as well as a story from Fox 5 Atlanta, to support their claims.

Read more from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s Leon Stafford

Robin Kemp

Robin Kemp is executive editor and CEO of The Clayton Crescent, which she founded in 2020. She has worked for Gambit, CNN, The Weather Channel, Clayton News, Henry Herald, and numerous freelance outlets....

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