Anderson Civil Trial Delayed

There was another setback Wednesday for the family of Martin Lee Anderson as a judge delayed its wrongful death suit indefinitely.

The April 16th trial is off and will not be rescheduled until all the dust has settled in criminal court.

Martin Lee Anderson's family wasn't in federal court Wednesday morning but its attorneys were, pushing for a multi-million dollar wrongful death suit to go on as scheduled in April.

That didn't happen.

Family attorneys say they'll just have to wait a little longer for their day in court.

"We think that the process is very straight forward and Martin Lee Anderson will get his day to get justice," said Family Attorney Ben Crump.

Anderson died after an altercation with guards at the Bay County Boot Camp last January.

Seven guards and a nurse, accused of aggravated manslaughter, are awaiting trial for that crime in criminal court.

Chief Judge Robert Hinkle ruled until that criminal trial is over, the civil trial should remain on ice, saying the guards wouldn't have an opportunity to testify here if their words could be used against them there.

"We wanted to protect their due process rights here today because they can't testify because of the pending criminal charges. So with that in mind, it's better for them," said Bill Mabile who represents four of the boot camp guards. He would not say whether they have any intention of taking the stand.

John Jolly represents the Bay County Sheriff in the wrongful death suit. In court, both he and an attorney for the Department of Juvenile Justice did not rule out distancing themselves from the guards' behavior, by suggesting they acted outside the scope of department policies and procedures the day Martin Lee Anderson died.

Are we going to see everyone on the defense side pointing fingers at each other?

"I don't know that we can make that judgment yet," said Jolly. "To a degree, how the sheriff defends the claim against him is impacted by whether the people are convicted of crimes or not convicted of crimes."

A circuit judge in Bay County could set a trial date in the guards' criminal case as early as Thursday. That's when they and the nurse will be arraigned.


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