An assistant attorney general for the state of Tennessee has filed an affidavit in Federal court saying he was the victim of a forged letter regarding a multi-million dollar lawsuit filed by a Tennessee Department of Corrections inmate, in 2010.
Senior Counsel Arthur Crownover II said in the affidavit filed in US District Court November 14th that he learned about the letter after a Nashville TV news station included it in a story about David Faulkner.
Faulkner,42, is an inmate who is suing the state of Tennessee, Warden Henry Steward and prison guards at West Tennessee State Prison alleging they violated his civil rights during a cell extraction. Warden Henry Steward is now warden of the Northwest Correctional Complex in Tiptonville.
Faulkner said in his lawsuit he was beaten, shot with a taser and hog tied for four hours. He asked for a jury trial and for $11.5 million in punitive, actual and compensatory damages.
According to Federal court documents Faulkner or “someone at his behest” created the letter. The assistant attorney general said Faulkner gave the TV news station a letter dated June 22, 2013 that showed an offer of $85,000 from Crownover II on behalf of the state of Tennessee to settle the case. The letter also said the state made an offer of $50,000 in November 2012 and $65,000 in January 2013 that Faulkner refused. The letter stated the offer of $85,000 would be good for 90 days starting June 1, 2013.
Crownover II declined an on camera interview, but the Tennessee Attorney General's Office released the following statement:
“The letter that appeared on a recent newscast on Nov. 12 did not come from our office. The Assistant Attorney General handling this matter made no such offer of settlement. There is a June 2013 date on the letter. However, the person whose name is listed on the letterhead as Solicitor General passed away in late 2010, and his successors' name has appeared on all letterhead since late 2011.”
In addition to the discrepancy in the letterhead, Crownover II noted grammatical errors, his opinion that the letter clearly looked like it was created by cutting and pasting content, and on the date of the letter Faulkner was not housed at the facility where the letter was purportedly mailed.
Crownover II is now asking a Federal Judge to throw out Faulkner's original lawsuit. The Assistant Attorney General said the dissemination of the letter was egregious.
Attempts to contact Faulkner were unsuccessful, but in a motion in opposition he filed with the court Friday he said “Mr. Crownover is a liar.”
Faulkner also said he is in maximum security, on lock down 24 hours a day and does not have access to the tools needed to create a forged letter.
In other court documents Faulkner did offer to settle the lawsuit. In a handwritten letter dated March 13, 2013 Faulkner wrote he would settle the lawsuit if the state paid his copy and postage fees he incurred on his inmate account and give him $1,000 in cash.
Crownover II provided a letter he mailed on March 22, 2013 stating “I think a more reasonable demand to settle this case would be as follows: For the TDOC to forgive $500 of the amount you owe for copying expenses.”
Faulkner wrote back the same day that the offer was an “insult” and he would settle the case if the state forgave his postage and copying fees, and give him $650.
The judge has not ruled on Crownover II's motion to dismiss.
Faulkner is currently housed at the Bledsoe County Correctional Complex.