Years After Suing County for Rights Violations, Jeffrey Ellard Will Have His Day in Court
Back up to June 2006, when Matt Pulle recounted the tale of Jeffrey Ellard, a prisoner in the Dallas County Jail whose six-inch leg wound went unattended by medical providers and became, as Matt would describe it in September 2007, "a big, soggy hole stocked with pus and the pieces of toilet paper he used to stem the bleeding." Ellard, who was released for medical treatment after five months only after the court ordered it, more or less became the poster boy for all that ailed the Dallas County Jail leading up to the U.S. Justice Department's federal lawsuit that accused the county and Sheriff Lupe Valdez of engaging in "a pattern or practice of failing to protect inmates at the Dallas County Jail from serious harm and undue risk from serious harm."
Ellard himself sued the county and the Sheriff's Department in December 2007; that complaint is after the jump. But nothing ever came of it. That's because the county says it was never served the paperwork, though attorneys representing Ellard say they in legal filings they were having an "ongoing dialogue" with the county and the District Attorney's Office to resolve the issue. And so, on April 14 of this year, U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor dismissed the suit.
On April 17, Ellard's attorneys filed a motion to reopen; that too is after the jump. Six months later, O'Connor finally has an answer for them: This week the judge ruled that Ellard's suit against Dallas County and the District Attorney's Office can go forward after all. None of Ellard's attorneys are available for comment, and Peter Harlan, chief of the federal division in Craig Watkins's office, says only that the county didn't oppose the motion to reopen only because "the county had not been served, so I could neither agree or disagree" with Ellard's attorneys. As far as the county's position on the lawsuit, he says, "I really don't have any comment on pending litigation."
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Observer's biggest stories.