LEXINGTON — A federal judge has dismissed the lawsuit of a Garrard County property owner who claimed Fiscal Court and county officials violated her constitutional rights by allowing the public access to her land.
In 2008, Donna Scott sued Fiscal Court, Garrard Judge-Executive John Wilson and Magistrate Fred Simpson in U.S. District Court, records show. Scott owns land adjoining Poor Ridge Road and a “private pathway” called Lanham Lane. In 2007, Scott believed her children were endangered when people began driving ATVs across Lanham Lane to access adjoining properties so she installed a locked gate to deny them access.
Adjoining property owners took Scott to Fiscal Court, where magistrates voted to have the gate torn down. Simpson and road foreman Kenny Kinnaird Jr. took down the gate the next day with a blowtorch. Scott claimed these acts constituted a violation of her Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures.
On¿Tuesday, Senior U.S.¿District Judge Joseph M. Hood issued an order dismissing the case, according to court records. Scott has the right to appeal her case.
“This case has troubled the Court for too long,” Hood wrote in the order. “Plaintiff has asserted a host of constitutional claims, all of which are meritless under the circumstances. Plaintiff has attempted to smuggle into federal court what are, in essence, common issues of state law by painting them as constitutional violations.”
Lanham Lane as well as the removed gate are not part of Scott’s home, thus seizure of the gate did not constitute a Fourth Amendment violation as she had claimed, according to the judge’s written opinion.
Scott’s attorney, Katherine Yunker of Lexington, was unavailable for comment. Wilson declined comment because Scott still has the right to appeal her case.