Judge orders restraining order against sheriff who arrested man serving him a subpoena


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Sheriff Tracy Carter

North Carolina sheriff called on his deputies to arrest a man trying to serve him with a subpoena to testify in a federal lawsuit filed by a man who suffered broken bones and other injuries during an arrest.

A judge granted a temporary restraining order against Lee County Sheriff Tracy Carter preventing the three-term Republican and his deputies from interfering with attempts to serve subpoenas in the lawsuit filed five years ago.

U.S. District Court Judge Terrence Boyle found in his order that Carter and other members of the sheriff's department were "obstructing or otherwise interfering" with attempts to call witnesses in the trial, which is scheduled to start June 2.

Robert Wade was hired to serve a subpoena to Carter at his home, but the 71-year-old man said the sheriff yelled at him and blocked him from leaving until deputies arrived to arrest him.

Wade was charged with trespassing and carrying a concealed weapon.

The 48-year-old Carter has been dropped as a defendant in the lawsuit filed by Steven Wayne Thomas, who claims that Lee County deputies kicked him in the head and shocked him 11 times with a Taser during a 2009 arrest.

One deputy shocked him eight times in less than three minutes, according to the suit.

Thomas said he became disoriented after working with chemicals in a tobacco field at his farm, jumped out of a pickup, and destroyed a woman's decorative fence.

The suit claims that Thomas suffered a broken jaw and lost a tooth after asking deputies for help.

Thomas is seeking $3 million in compensatory damages and unspecified punitive damages.

His attorney said there was no way to ensure that Carter and other key witnesses would testify unless they were served with subpoenas.

"In the environment we live in now where police are under scrutiny for acting out and misbehaving you would think that a sheriff in North Carolina would comply with the law and accept simple service of a piece of paper," said attorney Kieran Shanahan.