Wednesday, December 14, 2005
FOR THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
THE ATHENS MESSENGER
Athens County Sheriff Vern Castle and Auditor Jill Thompson pose with Andi, the dog being sued by a convicted drug dealer.
ATHENS, Ohio — Andi couldn’t sign the complaint notifying him that a convicted drug dealer had sued him. He couldn’t even manage an "X."
So Andi’s attorney helped. He put the police dog’s big paw print on the complaint and sent it back to court.
"I just thought I’d be safe, and show that he was served," said Athens County Prosecutor C. David Warren.
"Canine Andi" is among the defendants in a civil lawsuit that Wayne Francis Green filed Nov. 18 in Athens County Common Pleas Court. Green says the Athens County sheriff’s dog helped illegally search his Albany furniture business in 2003.
After Andi picked up a scent from the building, searchers found 50 pounds of marijuana. Last month a jury convicted Green, 46, of possession and trafficking. He is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 6.
"Everybody’s laughing about it," Sheriff Vern Castle said of the suit. "I don’t know what he’s thinking, suing the dog. Everybody’s making jokes about it, like maybe we should send him a box of dog biscuits and see if he’ll take that as a settlement."
Green filed his 19-page, handwritten lawsuit days after his conviction. As his own attorney, he has demanded $450,000 in damages. The lawsuit also names police officers, deputy sheriffs, employees of the prosecutor’s office and Common Pleas Judge Michael Ward.
Green, who is free on bond pending sentencing, could not be reached for comment. The public defender who represented him at trial questioned his former client’s decision to sue Ward, who will sentence him next month.
"I certainly wouldn’t have recommended it in terms of timing," said Michael Westfall. "But I can’t control what my clients do without me."
This isn’t the first Athens County police dog to land in the middle of a legal battle.
Before Andi, there was Pepsie, a colleague with the city police department. The dog’s frenzied response to two drunken students’ barking in 2001 led to the students’ arrests and a widely publicized court battle about whether the First Amendment protects woofing rights. One student was acquitted and another pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct.
And while Andi’s codefendants seem to be taking the lawsuit in stride, Warren said the stress may be getting to the dog.
"He seems lethargic," the prosecutor said. "He may be suffering psychological problems from this. We may have to file a counterclaim."