Discrimination suit against Sheriff Mitch Woods transferred

David Yates Sep. 14, 2015, 5:27pm


A discrimination claims against Jefferson County and its sheriff was set to go to trial Sept. 14 but was transferred to another court.

Alleging she’s the victim of racial discrimination, Ocie Chaisson filed a whistleblower claim against Jefferson County and Sheriff Mitch Woods on May 6 in Jefferson County District Court.

Court records show that on Sept. Chaisson’s attorney, Larry Watts, filed an opposed motion for continuance on Sept. 10, stating that he had a medical condition and was set to undergo a procedure the week of the trial.

A court official told the Record the case had been transferred from the 172nd Judicial District to the 60th Judicial District. No trial was set to go in the 60th District.

According to the original petition, Chaisson has been employed at the Sheriff's Peace Officer and Correctional Officer Academy since July 1, 1991. Her duties include training and determining applicant admission.

In 2001, Sergeant Danny Walker, whose grandfather was a Jefferson County Commisioner in Precinct 4, and whose uncle and cousins were judges, was appointed Academy Director, although only a sergeant.

“When his uncle was running for county judge, Danny Walker was in trouble for allegedly using a county vehicle and county time for campaigning for his uncle,” the petition states.

“When his uncle won the election and was invested as county judge, Sgt. Walker was promoted by Sheriff Woods to the rank of captain, although he had never negotiated the Lieutenant’s examination.”

The suit continues by alleging Walker discriminated against black academy applicants and that voiced claims surfaced that he was altering tests results for cadets along racial lines.

“The sheriff never took any observable action against Walker for the discriminatory actions claimed against black cadets seeking admission to the department,” the suit states.

“Capt. Walker also went into business ventures using his position … for personal business advantage.”

When she initiated a grievance, Chaisson “received messages that she is to be transferred to the jail or fired.”

Case No. A194-315

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