Judge hears attorneys’ fees arguments in KJ case

| August 8, 2016


VALDOSTA – Arguments were heard Monday in a hearing to determine whether the parents of Kendrick Johnson and their attorney will be required to pay nearly $900,000 in attorney’s fees related to multiple civil suits filed by the family, including a $100 million civil suit voluntarily dropped in March.

Kenneth and Jacqueline Johnson filed the $100 million civil suit in January 2015, which alleged local FBI agent Rick Bell, his two sons and 35 state and local officials either directly caused or covered up the cause of their son’s death.

The body of Kendrick Johnson was found upside down in a vertically-stored gym mat at Lowndes High School in January 2013. A state autopsy ruled the 17-year-old’s death accidental. The Johnson family insists their son died of foul play.

The Johnsons dismissed their civil with the intention of refiling at a later date. Since the dismissal, former defendants named in the suit have filed to recover nearly $900,000 in attorney’s fees from the family.

During Monday’s hearing, lawyers representing individuals from the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office, the Lowndes County Board of Education, the City of Valdosta, the Bell family and Owens Transport presented arguments before the court claiming the Johnson’s lawsuit against them was without factual merit and was substantially frivolous.

Chevene King, the lawyer representing the Johnsons, argued his clients filed the civil suit in good faith.

After hearing arguments from both sides, the judge in the case said he has taken the arguments under advisement and has granted King until Monday morning to file any supplemental briefs. A decision will then be made whether the Johnsons will be required to pay the former defendants’ attorneys’ fees.

If judge rules in favor of paying the fees, another hearing will be set for August 22 to determine the exact amount.

The Johnsons have until next month to refile their $100 million civil suit, however, suits filed against defendants from the Lowndes County School Board cannot be refiled. A deadline to refile those suits passed in May.

In June, the Department of Justice ended a nearly three year investigation in to Johnson’s death and determined there was insufficient evidence to support federal criminal charges.

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28 Comments on "Judge hears attorneys’ fees arguments in KJ case"

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  1. Guest182 says:

    King should have to pay the fees. He was in it for the fame and the big payday. He could care less about what the suit was about.

  2. Curly Bill says:

    Time for the Johnson scammers to pay.

  3. Eric "Da Blacksheep" TrixNDix says:

    Hope they get put on the hook for the full amount……

  4. Jb says:

    The Johnsons lies have finally come to an end. Everyone feels bad that their son died in an accident. The Johnsons hired an attorney within hours of their sons death and set out on a narrative to blame someone, anyone and everyone. they are days away from paying for their lies and frivolous lawsuit

    • Bart says:

      I was unaware they hired an attorney within hours. Where did you hear that?

      Even if true, you’re going to fault someone for hiring an attorney? That’s our right as Americans. A situation like that would call for an attorney ASAP, IMO. There were others who hired attorneys very early on too, are you going to fault them for that too? I’m not.

      • Shane says:

        By logical extension no negative inference should be drawn from the fact that certain individuals chose to exercise their constitutional right under the 5th Amendment to decline to cooperate in the investigation. There is nothing that merits suspicion by that decision, just as the Johnson’s retention of counsel was appropriate under the circumstances. We can have a different discussion about the nature and quality of the counsel they received.

  5. Missy says:

    Maybe the johnsons will have to pay up. I’m pretty sure they can’t pay up since they have probably lived off donations for 3 years. They may have to get jobs and get off that damn curb. This case was sad , however I think they immediately saw $$$$ signs.
    I hope they have to apologize to the people they have falsely accused too.
    Love your loved ones while they are here not after they gone.

    • blowhard says:

      Missy are you saying that they didn’t love their son while he was alive what trash

      • Missy says:

        If they spent as much time with their son prior to his death as on the corner there would of been a much different outcome. my son went to the same school yet we were always dropping him off on time and picking him up an time after events and he never had to share shoes with anyone like throwing them in the mat.
        I’m pretty sure Kendrick was probably raised by his granny and she probably did the best she could.
        Call me trash but I’m a damn good mother.

        • Bart says:

          I’ll call you trash Missy. It’s not your place to judge or spread rumors about people you don’t know.

          You’re trash.


        • blowhard says:

          I don’t know how good of a mother you are and I would never speak on it without knowing anything about your parenting skills but I do know a lot about trash and only trashy people make the type of comments you are making

    • Stephanie says:

      No false accusations, a blind man can see that this case was manipulated in every way. Trust and believe everyone that played a part in his death will be punished by the most high!!

      • Eric "Da Blacksheep" TrixNDix says:

        Yup, manipulated and motivated by a family who wanted to cash in on a death.

  6. Cozy351 says:

    Watch how quickly all of the people who pushed them into doing this fade into to background. There is no longer a chance of making money only losing money. Where are the race baiters now???????

  7. David says:

    I’m sure King egged all this on. He promised the gullible Johnson’s riches beyond their dreams, and then greed did the rest.

  8. LADY GAGA says:

    Some of you people are just foolish as the next. None of you know what happened nor do you know the truth of what those folks been thru would you prefer it happened to you instead sweep around your front door before to try to sweep someone elses messy people on the world get a life

  9. Bankruptcy says:

    All the Johnson’s have to do is file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy if they get slapped with the bills. It will include Crump and Kings’ fee also.


  10. C Moore says:

    I know that your child was not found dead their was an for you to say she wasn’t a good mother do know her an i’m not taking up for her but one thing I know that if he was a white child the hole out COME would be different an everybody in Valdosta know it also an you can take that to the bank

  11. Thanks for covering the story. VDT provided nothing.

  12. Steve says:

    I’m upset that this happened to them but none of the chased conspiracies have become true. We saw make-believed people be accused all the way to an individual lose the scholarship of choice over accusations that none has proof of. Not even mentioning the conspiracies in-between but yet someway somehow some still believe there is a “White Man” cover up, even among Valdosta today comments on this article.

    I’m even just as upset with those within the Anti-KJ crowd that used this event as a scapegoat for racial bigotry. Yes, I realize that national racial tensions are high and reality is turned on its head. With that said there is no reason not to treat every individual like a human being nor think anyone is less than human solely based on their skin color. Judging someone based on their character is one thing but some people have gone too far.

    In summary, they should be forced to pay all $900,000 based on the simple fact that these are REAL PEOPLE’s lives they have messed with. The accusations they brought up in court have not panned out and they should be on the hook.