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Page 48 Continued
Q. Okay. Did she train everybody who came in?
Q. All right. So were you ever called upon to train a jailer during Ms. Jones' administration?
Q. Well, what did you think of Mr. Pickett as a jailer during this time period when Ms. Jones was the head jailer? I'm still listening to you.
Ms. Morrison: For the record, Mr. Lawson is looking at his attorney. You don't need to look at him.
Mr. Shaunessy: Stop. When you said "I'm still listening to you," he looked at me and laughed as if to say like I was concerned she wasn't listening anymore. Okay?
Ms. Morrison: Okay.
Mr. Shaunessy: Okay.
Ms. Morrison: And, for the record, the reason I said that was because I went over and got coffee.
A. At that time, I didn't try to be a judge of a jailer's performance. Lee worked night shifts; I worked day shifts. He did not work opposite me. Okay?
Q. He did not work what?
A. He did not work opposite me. In other words. Jodie -- I worked the day; Jodie Deathridge worked the nights, then he and I both had four days off at the same time, whereas Jackie and Lee had the next four-day shifts.
Q. I understand.
A. So I couldn't judge him.
Q. All right. So you -- during at least the time period when Mr. Pickett was working under Yolanda Jones as head jailer, is it your testimony you have no opinion of his performance as a jailer?
A. That's right.
Q. Okay. Do you know why Mr. Pickett left?
A. He resigned to go to work for Balcones Heights Police Department in San Antonio as a peace officer.
Q. Okay. So when Ms. Jones left, it's your testimony that you have no knowledge as to why. What happened next with regard to the jail? For example, who became head jailer?
A. I became head jailer.
Q. Did you apply for the job?
A. No, I did not.
Q. Who had seniority at that point?
A. Jackie Dahl.
Q. Did she apply for the job?
A. She did not. She made it quite plain that she wasn't interested at all in the job.
Q. Well, how did you become head jailer if you didn't apply, Mr. Lawson?
A. I want to say that at that time the present chief deputy, Rod Decker --
A. -- said the position was open and it was mine if I wanted it.
A. And then I -- I want to say Gale Ligon also knew -- the sheriff at that time said something to me about it.
Q. Did Sheriff Ligon encourage you to take the position?
A. I don't remember it that way.
Q. Okay. Did anyone encourage you to take it?
A. I just -- I remember the chief deputy, Rod Decker.
Q. Did he encourage you to take the position?
A. He said it was mine if I wanted it, and at that time I thought about who I might get to be chief jailer, and I didn't want to work for them, whoever it may be, because I had no one in mind particularly. But I was afraid someone might come off the street that didn't now where the jail was much less be our chief jailer. I think I took the job out of self defense.
Q. Okay. That's a good reason. So did you get a pay raise at least?
A. A little bit.
Q. A little bit. All right. So at the time that you became chief jailer, can you tell me what month and year that was?
A. I can't tell you what month it was. If you knew me as well as -- I don't remember dates that well.
Q. I understand.
A. I want to say '92.
Q. Okay. And I've got your affidavit, and we're going to go through it, the affidavit. Do you recall making an affidavit?
Q. Okay. And, again, I'm not trying to trick you. We'll go through your affidavit, and anything that you remember when we go through your affidavit that you want to clarify is fine with me. Okay? All right. Now, at the time that you became chief jailer, Sheriff Ligon was still the sheriff. Right?
A. Yes, he was.
Q. Okay. How long were you chief jailer under Sheriff Ligon to your knowledge?
A. I'd say two years.
Q. Okay. And what kind of relationship, professional relationship did you have with Sheriff Ligon, first personally? What kind of personal
professional relationship? Were you friendly or not friendly?
A. I respected the man, and when I had to deal with him we always had a good understanding about whatever our problem was. We took care of it. Being prior military, I went through the chain of command, most of the time to Rod Decker, which was the chief deputy at that time, but my relationship with Gale Ligon was good.
Q. Okay. And when -- is it Ron or Rod?
A. Rod, R-o-d.
Q. Rod Decker. And did he hold the same position at that time that Mr. Keith now holds?
A. Yes, he did.
Q. So was it your understanding -- or was it your understanding at that time at least that the chain of command was the jailers, to you, to Rod Decker, and Mr. Decker was the one who went to the sheriff?
A. We were given instructions many times at that time if you have any problem, get ahold of chief deputy or the sheriff.
A. So we didn't distinguish that much, but, yes, Rod Decker was the first -- first one we'd try to go through, and if he was unavailable, we went to the
Q. Okay. Now, at this time when you first became head jailer, who were your jailers to your remembrance?
A. Jackie Dahl, Jodie Deathridge.
Q. Is that D-e-t-h-r-i-d-g-e?
Q. D-e-a-t-h, ridge?
A. I don't remember the other jailers.
Q. Okay. So I believe you said there was Jackie Dahl, Jodie Deathridge, you. You were the head jailer. So would there -- have how many other jailers would there have been at that time?
A. Two more.
Q. Two more. All right.
A. I just don't remember who it was.
Q. That's okay. So let's say --oh. And when you became head jailer, did you have the same kind of -- and I'm talking about right when you became head jailer. Do you recall whether y'all had any inmate trustees when you became head jailer? And I basically mean on the day, left over from Ms. Jones' administration.
A. I don't remember.
Q. Okay. Did you, after you became head jailer, start having more -- naming more inmates trustees than Ms. Jones had?
Q. And why is that?
A. I can't understand the reasons for not using inmates as trustees when it was common practice in all the other jails around the state that I was aware of, and I felt that the jailers had plenty to do without having to mop the floors, do meals, try to have visiting going at the same time and take care of the office and booking procedures and all that stuff, when all this other work could be delegated out to trustees, let them work off some of their fines, get their time done, get out of jail.
Q. Okay. So when you started out as the head jailer, did you pretty much immediately start naming a few inmate trustees?
A. Not immediately.
A. This was -- took a little time.
Q. All right; did you have a -- who was responsible for deciding who would be an inmate trustee?
A. I'm going to say I was.
Q. All right. And did you take suggestions from
anyone? For example, any of the jailers?
Q. Okay. And did you go over your choice of inmate trustees with Mr. Decker?
A. Occasionally, yes.
Q. All right. Or Sheriff Ligon?
A. I don't recall ever asking him.
Q. Okay. Did you have any type of policy in your own mind -- not written, but in your own mind -- as to the type of prisoner whom you believed would be a good inmate trustee?
Q. Can you tell me what you thought -- what that criteria was in your own mind?
A. I observed inmates in their cells, might be a period of time; how they respected authority. Were they clean? Was their cell clean? Maybe past experience, their work experience on the outside, what they were capable of doing. Can you cook? Have you ever swept and mopped and waxed and stripped floors before? Are you willing to wash patrol cars and be seen by the public on the outside? Will it bother you? Are you going to be willing to do what I ask of you? And then also agree to the terms of the jail rules for inmates, trustee
inmates, which Yolanda had passed down a set of rules that we still use.
Q. Did you have any criteria in your own mind with regard to what kind of crime the inmate had been accused of or had been convicted of depending upon what they were in jail for?
A. I don't think that was -- I'm sure I knew what they were charged with, but, like I said, this was jail. We didn't have choir boys in jail.
Q. I understand.
A. And, like I said, their conduct in jail, how they carried themselves, presented themselves to other officers, their willingness to do the job, that was more important to me than the charge.
Q. All right. Did you ever have an inmate trustee who was an accused or a convicted murderer?
A. I can only remember two inmates that were charged or -- that was charged with murder --
A. -- in all the years that I remember.
A. One got out on bond immediately, and as I recall, the other one -- seems to me at the time I had two trustees already, and I didn't feel that he'd make a good trustee to begin with. I don't believe the charge
had anything to do with it.
A. So, no. I'd say no, I don't recall having anyone that --
Q. Okay. But that was really going to be my next question -- you're getting a little ahead of me -- which is let's say he had lived up to all those standards that you've already enumerated, would you have had a problem making an accused or convicted murderer an inmate trustee?
A. I'd have to look at his past history.
Q. What about his past history would change whether he was a convicted or accused murderer?
A. I would say it would be possible if it's someone I felt like I knew, that grew up in this town, that I'd known for years, and they've possibly had a history of maybe one or two misdemeanors -- DWI, something like that -- and it's possible that this got evolved into a situation that couldn't be -- it's just a bad deal and he ended up being -- not convicted but charged with murder, someone I felt like that I could trust, I might have made him a trustee.
Q. All right.
A. It's not my place to judge them in that respect.
Q. If he had been convicted, then?
Q. No. All right. What about somebody who was an accused or a convicted rapist?
A. It's quite obvious that I used someone that was charged with indecency with a child. Is that not correct?
Q. Yes. I consider that different from --
Q. It's a different charge.
A. I agree.
Q. And I'm going to talk to you about that later. I'm asking you right now about an accused or convicted rapist.
A. Possibly accused, not convicted.
Q. All right. How about a convicted armed robber?
A. Like I said, we don't house choir boys in jail.
Q. I understand.
A. Depends on his past history. I'm going to look at his history. Like I said, if this is the first
violent case and he's just charged with it, he's not convicted of it, it's possible that he might be a trustee.
Q. Okay. What if he was convicted and had served eight years in the penitentiary for armed robbery?
Mr. Shaunessy: Just so you know, that's one of Pesina's convictions.
Ms. Morrison: Thank you for prompting your client, Mr. Shaunessy.
A. Well, my answer to that was going to be yes anyway.
Q. So, yes, you would have -- that you would have no problem making a convicted armed robber --
A. Like I said, we don't keep choir boys in jail.
Q. I understand. Are all your inmate trustees men?
Q. Have you had female trustees?
Q. How many?
A. I don't remember. More than one.
Q. More than two?
A. I'm sure.
Q. Less than five?
A. Since '92?
Q. Yeah, I'm talking right now about your whole administration.
A. I'm sure that, since 1992, there has been more than five female trustees.
Q. Can you name any of them?
A. I'm terrible remembering anybody's name. I don't even remember yours. Okay? I remember one, Linda Sliger, worked with Jackie when Jackie was on duty. That's when I wanted the female trustees to work, was when there was a female on the floor. There was others. I can't recall their names.
Q. So Linda Sliger was a female inmate trustee?
A. She was. She worked with Jackie some, yes.
Q All right.
A. I remember her helping her cook meals. I remember that.
Q. Did she help Johnny Pesina cook meals?
A. She better not have.
Q. Why not?
A. There would not be any why not if there's any direct supervision. Is that not correct?
Q. I don't know. I'm asking you, sir.
Q. You don't know.
Q. I'm not an expert.
A. When you have -- you can mix males and females as long as they're under direct supervision.
Q. All right.
A. Now, if Jackie Dahl was in the kitchen with Linda Sliger and Johnny Pesina at the same time and they were preparing meals, yes, it's possible.
Q. Okay. Would you -- since you had all your inmate trustees sign some kind of agreement -- you did. Right?
Q. Can you go back to your records and find out the names of the inmate trustees that you've had during your --
A. We've done that.
Q. You have?
The Witness: Y'all have got a list of trustees?
Mr. Shaunessy: (Nods head affirmatively.)
Ms. Morrison: Okay. I've never seen it, which is not to say we don't have it.
Mr. Nelson: Off the record.
(Off the record.)
Mr. Shaunessy: Just for the record, to the extent that Llano County hasn't given the
Plaintiffs a list of inmate trustees, we will get the Plaintiffs a list of inmate trustees from the time Mr. Lawson became chief jailer to today. Now, if the records don't allow for some period of time, we -- that list may be incomplete, but to the extent we've got records, we'll get them to you.
Ms. Morrison: Okay. All right.
Q. When did -- well --
Ms. Morrison: Let's go off the record.
(Off the record, during which there was a lunch recess.)
Ms. Morrison: Okay. We're back from the lunch break, and I'd like to say for the record that Coopers in Llano has the best barbequed chicken I've had ever had.
Q. Now I believe that we were talking about the inmate trustees in your administration. Is that right, Mr. Lawson?
Q. Okay. And you stated that, under Sheriff Ligon, that you usually made the sole decision, but that you might run it by Rod Decker or Sheriff Ligon himself?
A. That's right.
Q. Okay. Now, tell me about when Sheriff Ligon retired. Was there another election for another sheriff?
A. There was another election for sheriff.
A. And Nathan Garrett won the election.
Q. Were you one of his backers?
Q. Okay. Do you consider yourself a personal friend of Sheriff Garrett's?
A. I would think so.
Q. Okay. So is it safe to assume, then, that when he became sheriff, there was no question about him changing chief jailers?
A. There was in my mind.
Q. And why was that?
A. Well, there had been one deputy that had left when he became sheriff, and everyone was curious about whether or not they were going to keep their jobs, and I was included in that. Just because I was a friend or went to school with the sheriff doesn't mean that you're going to have a job.
Q. Okay. So when Mister -- when Sheriff Garrett began, did he -- when he took office -- well, actually, when he was elected. When he was elected, did he say
anything to you or anyone else to your knowledge about what he was going to do with his staff or actually Sheriff Ligon's previous staff?
A. Not in that respect. He came to me and talked to me.
Q. And what did he say?
A. Well, he wanted me to continue on in the jail as I had been.
Q. Were you relieved by that?
A. At the time, yes.
Q. Okay. So when was this conversation, to your knowledge, when Sheriff Garrett told you that he wanted you to remain on? Was it before he took office?
Q. And when I say "before he took office," I mean after he was elected but before he actually began his term.
A. I don't remember.
Q. Okay. Would you say that on the day that he started his term you already knew you were going to be the chief jailer?
A. I don't remember.
Q. The deputy who left, was he let go by Sheriff Garrett?
A. I think it was a mutual agreement.
Q. Who was that?
A. We called him Pup.
A. Because he was young.
Q. I see. That's all right.
A. I don't remember his name.
Q. That's okay. When Sheriff Garrett came in, did he make any other changes as far as personnel go for the jail or for the dispatchers or for the deputies? Anyone?
A. Yes, he -- I want to say he kept Rod Decker on the payroll, even though he was his opponent in the election, and gave him the position as a west Llano deputy.
Q. What's west Llano?
A. West of Highway 16, right out here. We usually have one or two deputies cover that area, and then we've got the other 95 percent of the deputies covering the east end of the county.
Q. All right. So he kept Mr. Decker. Who did he assign to Mr. Decker's previous position?
A. John Keith.
Q. Okay. So since Mr. Garrett became sheriff
until the present day, is John Keith still in that same position?
A. Yes, he is.
Q. What's the title of that again?
A. Chief deputy.
Q. Chief deputy. Okay. What other changes did Mr. Garrett take with regard to any of his personnel?
A. At that time, I don't recall any other changes.
Q. Okay. And right now we're talking about when Sheriff Garrett first began his term.
Ms. Morrison: And I'm just going to ask for opposing counsel to correct me if I'm wrong, because I really, truly don't remember. Was it January 1993?
Mr. Shaunessy: He would have come in in January '93. Just so you know, Ligon came in in '67.
Ms. Morrison: Okay. That's great. All right. Which means he was still there for a long time, and that was really the whole point. I appreciate that very much, Mr. Shaunessy.
Q. All right. So January of 1993, Sheriff Garrett begins. At that time, to your recollection, how many jailers did you have and who were they? We know one was Jackie Dahl. Right?
A. This is when Garrett became -- or took over?
Q. Right, right at the time when he took over. I'm trying to establish who was at the jail right when Mr. Garrett took over as sheriff, if you can recall. While you're trying to think of names --
A. I don't remember.
A. I remember there was five jailers.
Q. And does that include or --
A. The chief jailer. It includes the chief jailer.
Q. Okay. So you had four other people working for --
Q. -- you?
The Reporter: You said "right"?
The Witness: Right.
Q. All right. And we need -- and this is certainly as much as or more my fault than yours, but it's kind of important that you wait until I ask the question for you to answer and I wait until you finish answering to talk so the court reporter can get it all down. Okay, Mr. Lawson?
Q. I know you think that you know what I'm going to say, and I usually think I know what you're going to say, and you and I are a little bit alike in that way, and we're ending each other's sentences. As I said, it's much more my fault than yours. Now, when Sheriff Garrett came in, did he sit down and have a chat with you about how the jail was being run?
A. I want to say yes.
Q. Okay. Can you remember any part of that conversation? Let me ask you another question. Okay. Let me make it a little more specific. Did Mr. Garrett, when he started, come up and make an inspection of the jail?
(Continued On Lawson Deposition V4)