In the wake of last month's hunt for a serial rapist targeting South Dallas, the smart money said that the first lawsuit would come from Alan Mason, the mild-mannered insurance salesman whose name and picture were plastered across the media after he was mistakenly identified by police as a "person of interest."
Instead, that honor belongs to Van Dralan Dixson, who is currently in Dallas County jail facing 10 counts of aggravated sexual assault and seven of aggravated robbery. On Thursday, he filed a handwritten, pro se lawsuit in federal court claiming the Dallas County Sheriff's Office has violated his constitutional right to due process.
"[F]avorable evidence to the accused has been leaked to the media," he explains in his complaint, omitting a key prefix. He doesn't elaborate why the release of the details of his alleged crimes is unconstitutional, but his jailhouse lawyer, a 35-year-old career criminal named Matthew McBride, does.
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"Regardless of public and judicial opinion Mr. Dixson has rights to due process, and fairness," McBride writes, adding, "To afford Mr. Dixson his right to fairness, I personally find it in the best intrest of him, and the state to order the Dallas County Sheriffs Office, Dallas Police not to provide any information to the media that would impair his defense."
Dixson's chances of prevailing in this case seem slim, given that the release of allegations against a suspected criminal is a common and accepted practice, not to mention that the Dallas County justice system would need a lot longer than a month to effectively deny a prisoner due process.