by: Jodie Fleischer Updated:
DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - DeKalb County prosecutors have decided to dismiss a woman's traffic ticket for the second time after a Channel 2 Action News investigation revealed questions about the timing and motivation for reopening it.
"Words cannot describe how much time, energy, effort has gone into something that should have never been reopened," Shelia Brown told Channel 2 investigative reporter Jodie Fleischer. "I was excited. I'm glad it's over."
Brown was turning left into her neighborhood on Flakes Mill Road in January 2011 when she collided with a pickup truck. A judge found the truck's driver, Kimberly Curry, guilty of driving without her headlights after dark.
"I thought this would just be over, and we would both get everything repaired and go our separate ways," said Brown, who was also cited for failing to yield as she turned.
Prosecutors originally dismissed Brown's charge for lack of evidence in June 2011, but reopened it nearly two years after the crash at Curry's request.
Court records show Curry filed a personal injury lawsuit against Brown four days later, even though an arbitrator found Curry fully liable for the crash and Brown's insurance company had already paid Curry $25,000.
Fleischer caught up with Curry outside the DeKalb County courthouse in February, and asked if she could provide a reason why she had Brown's case reinstated.
"No, I can't. Thank you," Curry replied.
When Fleischer asked Curry about the curious timing of her civil lawsuit, four days after requesting the charges be reinstated, Curry entered an elevator and let the doors close without responding.
Curry's lawsuit cites “potentially permanent physical injury” and “continuing pain.” Less than one month after the crash, her husband posted Facebook photos of her horseback riding.
"I think the $25,000 payment to Ms. Curry is the first thing that ought to be looked into," said Mike Hawkins, who represents Brown.
Hawkins applauds prosecutors for dismissing Brown's ticket again, but said Curry shouldn't have been able to get it reopened in the first place.
In February, the DeKalb County Solicitor-General, Sherry Boston, declined Fleischer's request for an interview, but issued a statement saying, “It is not unusual for the Solicitor-General's Office to reopen a case. We frequently reactivate cases when new information or contact with a victim becomes available.”
Hawkins said it's unlikely Curry was that hard for investigators to find as she works in DeKalb County's probate court.
"I'm not sure how they could have lost touch with someone who works in that same courthouse," said Hawkins.
Fleischer provided the solicitor's representative with a copy of Curry's civil lawsuit and the horseback riding photos.
Brown's new dismissal sheet said, “Additional investigation of the case revealed unresolvable conflicts in the testimony and evidence. As a result, this case cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.”
"The criminal justice system should never be used to influence the outcome of a civil case," said Hawkins.
Curry's insurance did not cover Brown's medical bills, so she has a civil case pending as well. The crash totaled Brown's car and sent her to the hospital.
"There's no reason why I should be at any disadvantage because of her negligence, so I absolutely want to have those expenses covered. Hopefully, we'll work that out within the next couple of months," Brown said.