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DeKalb court under fire for false arrests, imprisonment | News

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DeKalb court under fire for false arrests, imprisonment
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DECATUR, Ga. (WXIA) – The DeKalb County Recorder's Court is under fire for problems tied to the arrest of several innocent people – and they may be responsible for placing an unknown number of other people at risk.

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A lawsuit was scheduled to be filed in DeKalb County on Friday. Among the allegations – innocent people arrested, innocent lives shattered, constitutional rights violated.

For TeReon Kelsey, the act of getting behind the wheel of a car takes an act of personal courage. Driving is what led to one of the worst days in her life.

"I was handcuffed, taken to jail, my car impounded," she said. "During this time, my children were at basketball camp. I had to leave them, they didn't know where I was."

The crime is that there was no crime. The recorder's court did not update a traffic ticket that Kelsey had paid for. Suddenly, she was a wanted criminal who was wanted – for nothing.

"Fingerprinted me, mugged me, had me up against the wall – searched me," she said. "Placed in a holding cell overnight. They had a tour going on that day, so people were looking inside."

Kelsey is not alone. Several others have come forward as well, but nobody knows how many other innocent people are at risk of going to jail – because of the DeKalb County Recorder's Court.

"By the time this is over, we're going to file a class claim. Additional claims have already been filed," said attorney Bill Atkins. "I would not be surprised if that class measures in the hundreds, if not thousands."

Atkins says he has spent more than a year filing open records requests for the traffic court's documents. He says the court is breaking the law by refusing to provide them.

"At the moment, their exposure is about $167,000 in fines and penalties under the current statute," Atkins said. "And it's an abject unwillingness to abide by the law."

The county has had no comment about the matter thus far – and that is the gist of the lawsuit: a lack of answers and a lack of transparency.

A word of warning – if you have received a traffic ticket in the past year in DeKalb County – even if you have paid it off, you may want to check your driving record online to make certain that you still have a drivers license.


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