BARTOW — Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd took heat recently for a series of inflammatory tweets in the lead-up to Hurricane Irma wherein the sheriff volunteered that anyone with an outstanding warrant seeking emergency shelter from the storm would be jailed. The shoe is on the other foot now, with Judd encountering legal troubles of his own.
Andres Barreno of Virginia has brought suit against the sheriff, claiming Judd “misused emergency shelters” as a justification for checking shelter-seekers for warrants.
Barreno himself was refused entry at one such shelter on Saturday, though the details of his being turned away have not yet been made public at this time.
Wasting no time, Nexus Services, Inc., a legal group offering pro bono services, filed the suit for Barreno on Sunday. Their CEO, Mike Donovan, did not mince words on the matter.
“Sheriff Grady Judd knew that people would be afraid because of his statements earlier this week,” Donovan said. “That fear is causing them to not seek shelter, and that as a result people… men, women, and children, may die.”
“[Judd’s] actions are reckless and unconstitutional,” Donovan’s statement concluded, “and he needs to be held accountable for his actions.”
The basis for the suit, according Nexus Services attorney Mario Williams, is that Judd’s escalating tweets “constitute unconstitutional pedestrian warrant checks, which violate the fourth amendment rights of Floridians fleeing the path of Hurricane Irma.”
The sheriff—in what is becoming his typical fashion—waved off the matter.
“They filed that lawsuit for free press and it’s obviously frivolous,” he declared.
The ACLU were also vocal critics of the tweets, advising Judd, “[You should] focus on preparing for Irma, not burnishing your Joe Arpaio-style ‘tough cop’ credentials with irresponsible tweets.”
Judd and Sheriff’s office spokeswoman Carrie Horstman promptly set about spinning the tweets as a means of warding off sex offenders from shelters that would house children, and as a warning that law enforcement has no choice but to enforce such warrants.
Judd differs from infamous Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio in at least one notable way: Donald Trump isn’t going to be able to get him out of this one