From September 2003 to March 2004, Plaintiff Rehberg sent anonymous faxes to the management of Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital (the “hospital”). The faxes criticized and parodied the management and activities of the hospital.
Defendant Hodges, then the District Attorney of Dougherty County, Georgia, and Defendant Paulk, the Chief Investigator in the District Attorney’s Office, investigated Rehberg’s actions as a “favor” to the hospital, to which Hodges and Paulk are alleged to have political connections. Rehberg alleges Hodges and Paulk lacked probable cause to initiate a criminal investigation of him.
From October 2003 to February 2004, Defendants Hodges and Paulk prepared a series of subpoenas on Hodges’s letterhead and issued the subpoenas to BellSouth and Alltel (later Sprint), requesting Rehberg’s telephone records, and to Exact Advertising, an Internet service provider, requesting Rehberg’s email records. Although no grand jury was impaneled at the time, the subpoenas purported to require appearance before a Dougherty County grand jury. Rehberg’s case was not presented to a grand jury until December 14, 2005.
Defendant Paulk gave the results of the subpoenas, consisting of Rehberg’s personal emails and phone records, to private civilian investigators, who had directed the substance of the subpoenas. These civilian investigators paid the District Attorney’s Office for Rehberg’s information, often making payments directly to BellSouth and the other subpoenaed parties, allegedly to pay debts of the District Attorney’s Office.
After receiving unfavorable press coverage of his relationships with the hospital, Hodges recused himself from prosecuting Rehberg. Burke was appointed a special prosecutor in Hodges’s place. Hodges continued to supervise Paulk and remained in communication with Burke throughout the investigation, but he “never served as the actual prosecutor of the charges against Mr. Rehberg before the Grand Jury.”
Jurisdiction: U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit
Related Categories: Civil Procedure , Torts
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