A jury ruled Wednesday that two California Highway Patrol officers had legitimate reasons for pulling over Ruth Jackson and arresting her on suspicion of driving under the influence nearly three years ago.
Judge Thomas E. Warriner read the verdict at 3:30 p.m. in Plumas County Superior Court in Quincy. The jurors deliberated most of the day before reaching a verdict.
The Jackson family appeared stunned as 11 of the 12 jurors said they voted in favor of the CHP.
As the jurors filed out of the room, the two CHP officers who were on trial and their attorney quietly gestured their appreciation to the nine-woman, three-man panel. But the officers weren’t celebrating.
“We are gratified,” said attorney Stephen Pass, who represented the CHP officers.
Pass said he had the option of moving the trial out of Plumas County. “But we didn’t,” he said. “I felt we could get a fair trial here.
“I think it says a lot about the people of this county, that despite certain feelings, they were able to set those feelings aside and be impartial,” Pass said.
Jackson said she couldn’t understand the jury’s decision.
“After all the trouble the people here have had with the highway patrol, I just can’t believe that a majority of the jury would come to this conclusion,” Jackson said. “I’m stunned.”
CHP officers Jim Wheaton and Lacey Heitman, though appearing visibly relieved and thankful, didn’t want to comment on the record until they had approval from their office.
Quincy Area CHP Commander Bruce Carpenter said his department was advised not to comment.
“It’s still considered active litigation,” Carpenter said. “There is always the possibility of an appeal.”
Carpenter said the CHP was preparing a statement and that the officers would be available for comment “at the appropriate time.”
Jackson’s civil lawsuit stemmed from her Sept. 12, 2009, arrest and jailing on charges of driving under the influence after she left an Oktoberfest event at the Blairsden Barn, where she was working as a volunteer.
Her civil complaint said that she had a blood alcohol level of 0.00 and had no drugs in her system at the time of her arrest.
However, the jury sided with the CHP’s claim that Jackson appeared to be impaired after failing field sobriety tests.
For a more detailed report, see the June 27 issue of Feather Publishing’s Plumas County newspapers.
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