Defending The Baby-Burning Stormtroopers of Habersham County

“If the facts are against you, argue the law. If the law is against you, argue the facts. If the law and facts are against you, pound the table and yell like hell.”

In their effort to deflect blame for the near-murder of 19-month-old Bounkham Phonesavah , Habersham County, Georgia Sheriff Joey Terrell and his Berserkers — more appropriately styled the Baby-Burning Stormtroopers of Habersham County — added a repellent appendix to Carl Sandburg’s cynical advice: When police blow the face off a toddler in an illegal 2:00 a.m. no-knock SWAT raid, and the victims file an unassailable civil complaint, blame the baby. That is the unambiguous claim made in the “Defendants’ Reply” to the lawsuit filed on behalf of the infant, who is known as “Baby Bou-Bou.”

Baby Bou-Bou and his family have received a tax-subsidized settlement that will leave them with millions of dollars of unpaid medical bills, and leave Sheriff Joey and his henchmen unscathed. Exposure of their legal strategy has prompted a number of readers — some of whom are probably chauvinistic defenders of the Sacred Brotherhood of State Coerion, aka the Blue Line — to demand specific quotes from the “Defendants’ Reply” that blame Bou-Bou for the injuries he suffered, and accuse him of negligence or “criminal” conduct. For those interested in reading full text of that reply, the document is found in my Scribd archive.

The “Four Corners” doctrine, which applies to wills, contracts, and other legal instruments, dictates that the author’s intention in composing such a document is defined by the plain meaning of the text. If a claim or assertion isn’t found within the four corners of that document, it can’t be considered. The “Defendants’ Reply” filed on behalf of Sheriff Joey and his comrades made several accusations about the supposed conduct of the “plaintiffs”; nowhere within that text is an effort made to distinguish Bou-Bou from the other defendants. Ergo, under the Four Corners doctrine, all of those accusations apply to both Bou-Bou and his parents.

The lead plaintiff in the lawsuit is Baby Bou-Bou. The Defendants’ Reply is addressed to all of the plaintiffs; accusations of misconduct by “plaintiffs” assume joint and several liability on the part of the infant and his parents (listed in the suit as his “Natural Guardians as Next Friends”).

With this in mind, read the “Seventh Defense” on page 34, in which the defendants assert that “plaintiffs’ damages, if any, were directly and proximately caused by the contributory and comparative negligence of plaintiffs and their failure to exercise ordinary care.” Note also the claim made in the Tenth Defense (see page 35) that the injuries and damges “were caused by the deliberate, criminal conduct of plaintiffs.”

Omission of the definite article from those statements is a failed attempt at a semantic dodge. If the intent were to exempt Bou-Bou, the author of this scabrous brief would have specified which of the plaintiffs had supposedly engaged in “criminal conduct.” Absent that specification within the “four corners” of the reply, the defense mounted on behalf of Sheriff Joey and his minions focused squarely on the lead plaintiff, the infant who was nearly murdered in his sleep.


11:16 pm on May 21, 2015