Friday, May 7, 2010
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CONYERS -- A pre-trial hearing is scheduled later this month in connection with a lawsuit accusing former candidate for Rockdale County sheriff Donald Ferguson of libel.
The hearing is scheduled for May 17 in the chambers of Rockdale County Superior Court Judge Sidney Nation in the civil suit brought against Ferguson by John J. Wigington, son of Rockdale County Sheriff Jeff Wigington.
The libel accusation against Ferguson stems from a letter he sent to the Rockdale Citizen and other news media outlets in October 2008 that alleged John Wigington was driving under the influence of alcohol at the time of a March 2008 traffic accident. The Citizen did not publish the letter.
According to the CPD incident report, the sheriff's son was stopped behind another vehicle on Flat Shoals Road near the intersection of Parker Road and rear-ended the car in front of him when the traffic signal turned from red to green. The female driver of the car complained of neck pain and was transported by ambulance to Rockdale Medical Center. Both vehicles were released to their owners.
Nobody was cited in the accident. Conyers Police Chief David Cathcart described the traffic incident as "very minor," but Wigington's son was found to be at fault for following too closely.
The lawsuit was filed on July 2, 2009, and states Wigington's son was not driving under the influence of alcohol and Ferguson's statements are false. Wigington's son seeks "special and general damages" and punitive damages from the court.
Ferguson's attorney, Beau Worthington of Covington, declined comment on the lawsuit Friday. He said there should a clearer picture of where the lawsuit is going after this month's hearing.
Attempts to reach Robert Mumford, a Conyers attorney representing Wigington's son, were unsuccessful.
Ferguson, a Democrat, lost to Wigington in the 2008 General Election following a bruising campaign. Ferguson questioned Wigington's operation of the jail, along with mentioning the traffic accident, in the letter cited in the lawsuit in the final month of the campaign. The letter was also released after Wigington brought up disciplinary actions taken against Ferguson, who was a captain with the Fulton County Sheriff's Office, during a candidate forum.