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Commonwealth's Attorney Patricia Watson to face Civil Suit for Malicious Prosecution

A recent "Opinion of the Day" in Lawyers Weekly highlighted the opion of the Federal Judge in the case of King v Darden, Watson and Allen. That opinion is available online here, and, like all of the documents in the case, is public record.

That opinion found that the allegations in two of the four counts of the complaing warranted proceding.

The Judge granted the motion to dismiss all counts against Mr. Allen but denied the motion to dismiss for both Ms Darden and Mrs. Watson on Counts I and III. Count II was dismissed, but Mr. King was granted leave to amend the complaint. The Judge's opinion also stated that Mrs. Watson did not enjoy Eleventh Amendment Immunity.

As for Commonwealth's Attorney Watson and Virginia State Police Special Investigator, the Judge ruled that they would both face some of the allegations in the Complaint filed by Mr. King. his opinion further stated that Eleventh Amendment Immunity does not shield Mrs. Watson from facing the claims in the complaint it is alleged tht she acted in her personal capacity and not a professional one. Mrs. Watson may still be shielded by State Immunity, but that would require a "more complete record" and an affirmitive defense by Mrs. Watson.

Count IV of the complaint was dismissed for all defendants.

Below are the pertinant details of the Compalint.


Comes now the plaintiff, by counsel and sues the defendants for redress of the violation of his civil rights pursuant to the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution and for relief for violations of State law.


This court has jurisdiction in this matter pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §l983 and §l988. This court has supplemental jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and 28 U.S. C. §1367.


1. The plaintiff, Stephen King (King), is a resident of Virginia; he resides at 8007 Brink Road, Emporia, Virginia 23847.

2. The defendant Kimberly L. Darden (Darden) at all times germane to this case was employed by the Virginia State Police (VSP) and was acting under the Color of State Law when she undertook the actions complained of herein against King.

3. The defendant Patricia T. Watson (Watson) at all times germane to this case was the Commonwealth Attorney for Greenville County and the City of Emporia, Virginia. She was acting under the Color of State Law when she undertook her actions complained of herein against King.

4. On good faith and belief Watson was not acting in her official capacity from just prior to the time King was charged with Election Fraud and seized in his person and prosecuted.

5. The defendant Henry Stephen Allen, a/k/a Steve Allen (Allen) is a resident of Greenville County, Virginia and resides at 618 Hilltop Lane, Skippers, Virginia 23879.


6.  King is the owner of a grocery store on Brink Road Emporia, Virginia.

7.  On Friday, June 13, 2014 the store experienced an armed robbery.

8.  King and his family also own a farm in North Carolina just south of the State line approximately 4 miles from the store's location.

9.  Approximately a month after the robbery, King had a recall of memory that he had seen a teal green colored car coming out of the road across from the farm on the night of the robbery. The car was covered with mud.

10.  King recalled that the car driven by the robbers of his store was said to have been teal green in color.

11.  King knowing the land around his farm knew that the closest mud source to the road he had observed the car the night of the robbery was a parcel of land locally called the "stump pile."

12.  King went to the stump pile and found evidence of the robbery in the form of various items that had been taken from his store.

13.  King contacted police and Deputies Pearce and Rook, from Greenville County's Sheriff's Office, as well as two Deputies from Northampton County, North Carolina met King at the "stump pile."

14.  As a result of King's findings four young men were arrested and charged with robbery.

15.  As the criminal case against the four men was proceeding, the neighbor whose road King had seen the car exiting and who is a relative of one of the men charged with the robbery brought charges against King for trespass.

16.  King was to be tried in North Carolina on September 15, 2014, a Monday.

17.  On September 12, 2014 the Friday before the trial, King's Defense

attorney, Monica Wilson received a telephone call from Watson, who informed her

that the two Greenville County Sheriff Deputies who came to the "stump pile" and

who were to testify at King's trespass trial on his behalf would not be in Court as

they were to be in Court in Emporia, Virginia.

18.  Wilson asked if they could be present in the afternoon and was told they would be in Court "all day" Monday, September 15, 2014.

19.  King had concerns that if the Deputies were not present and if he were to be found guilty of trespass the evidence he found in the "stump pile" could be suppressed.

20.  The trial for trespass commenced that Monday, at which time the District Attorney for Northampton County, North Carolina moved the Court to dismiss for lack of probable cause.

21.  On the morning of September 15, 2014 King had to drive by Deputy Pearce's home on his way to North Carolina. Pearce's patrol car was parked at the home.

22.  That afternoon as King was driving back to his store he noticed that Pearce's patrol car had not been moved from where it was that morning when King  was driving to North Carolina.

23.  Seeing the patrol car having not been moved, prompted King to drive to the Greenville County Courthouse, where he arrived at approximately 1 :30 p.m. The Courthouse parking lot was empty.

24.  Seeing that the patrol car had not been moved and the Courthouse parking lot empty, King went to the Greenville County Administration offices and made a FOIA request for the video camera recordings of the Courthouse's entrance door for that Monday, September 15, 2014.

25.  King then, at approximately 3:30 p.m., confronted Watson in her office and told her he was 99% certain she bad lied to his Defense Attorney.

26.  After King obtained the FOIA video, which showed that Deputy Pearce did not enter the Courthouse at all and that Deputy Rook was in the Courthouse from 9:50 a.m.; to 11:09 am. on September 15, 2014.

27.  King again confronted Watson by going to her office.

28.  King told Watson he was going to file a Bar Complaint against her.

29.  King thereafter caused a Bar Complaint to be filed with the Virginia State Bar.

30.  On June 8, 2015 King legally filed with the Greenville County Voter Registrar to run for the office of Sheriff of Greenville County for the upcoming election to be held on November 3, 2015.

31.  On July 17, 2015 King was approached by Darden who told him she was there to speak with him regarding his Certificate of Candidate Qualification to run for Sheriff.

32.  At the trial Darden was asked how did she get the "complaint" regarding election fraud? Her response was that the VSP received a letter of request from the Greensville County Commonwealth's Attorney's office.

33.  Arguably Watson was without authority to cause an investigation to be commenced. (See §24.2-104, Code of Virginia) This is particularly true given Watson had an undisclosed conflict. See infra.

34.  To date the letter has not been seen. The plaintiff filed a FOIA request with the Virginia State Police for Darden' s file which was opposed. A Richmond City Circuit Court, Judge Rupp, up held their position.

35.  At the Preliminary Hearing in General District Court and at trial the Greenville County Voter Registrar, Dorothy Kea, testified that King would have to have lived in the Commonwealth of Virginia for one year, next proceeding the election date in which he sought office. That is prior to November 4, 2014. (See Exhibits A and B )

36.  Darden learned from speaking with King that he had moved from the farm to live with his father in Greenville County the first week of October, 2014. A period of greater than one year prior to the November 3, 2015 Election.

37.  Darden spoke with the Voter Registrar as part of her investigation and there has been no indication she was told anything differently by Dorothy Kea, prior to filing charges than what Dorothy Kea testified to at King's preliminary hearing and trial. (See Exhibits C and D)

38.  At the preliminary hearing Darden testified she had spoken by telephone with Allen, the person who was supposed to have made a complaint to Watson.

39.  Darden's testimony regarding her telephone conversation with Allen was "but he had no information. He said he did not know Mr. King's current residence." (See Exhibit E)

40.  Darden having spoken with King, Kea and Allen knew or should have known King was a resident of Virginia and Greenville County for more than a year prior to the election, Darden nonetheless sought a felony charge against King.

41.  Darden did not have probable cause to charge King with Election Fraud.

42.  On July 24, 2015 Darden caused a Criminal Warrant for the arrest of King to be issued by the Magistrate of Greenville County. (See Exhibit F)

43.  King was charged with a Class 5 felony for Election Fraud, which if convicted would have caused King to serve a term of imprisonment of not less than one year nor more than I 0 years, or in the discretion of the jury or the court trying the case without a jury, confinement injail for not more than 12 months and a fine of not more than $2,500, either or both. § 18. 2-10,  Code of Virginia.

44.  On November 6, 2015 King was tried for Election Fraud in the Greenville County Circuit Court and was found to be not guilty by a jury.

45.  Watson interactions with King the prior year provides motivation for the actions she took against him.

46.  The timing of the charges, which were publically disseminated in the media, also calls into question the motives of the other defendants.

47.  Days prior to the charges being issued against King, Watson presented to the Greenville County Circuit Court an order seeking to have Michael Doucette, Commonwealth Attorney for the City of Lynchburg appointed as Special Prosecutor of the King case. (See Exhibit G)

48.  On September 14, 2015 at the preliminary hearing in the prosecution of King, Watson testified that she had received a complaint that King was committing election fraud from a Steve Allen.

49.  Watson at no time disclosed that Steve Allen was related to her. Whether Darden knew of their relationship is currently unknown. (See Exhibit H)

50.  Watson clearly had a conflict, in that the complainant, Steve Allen was related to her.


51.  The forgoing slated facts which are adopted and incorporated herein as allegations.

52.  The conduct of the defendants, as alleged herein constitutes the violation of King's civil rights guaranteed by the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution to be free of illegal seizure of his person.

53.  King had the Constitutional right under the Fourth Amendment to be free from illegal seizure of his person and said right was a clearly established right at the time of the violations alleged herein.

54.  The defendants knew or should have known that King had not violated the Election Laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

55.  The defendants, jointly and severally, had no probable cause to believe King had violated the Election Laws of Virginia.

56.  The actions of the defendants’, jointly and severally, were taken under the Color of State law for an improper purpose.

57.  The defendants' actions were willful, wanton and malicious and/or done with a reckless disregard for the rights of King.

58.  In the alternative the acts were negligent, grossly negligent and/or done with a reckless disregard for the rights of King.


59.  The preceding paragraphs are incorporated herein by this reference.

60.  The conduct of the defendants' ,jointly and severally, was such as to cause the false imprisonment of King, to deny him his freedom of movement, to cause him to be publically arrested, handcuffed, booked into the local jail, processed and officially charged with a felony.

61.  The defendants' actions were willful, wanton and malicious and/or done with a reckless disregard for the rights of King, such as to permit King to recover from the defendants compensatory and punitive damages.

62.  In the alternative the acts were negligent, grossly negligent and/or done with a reckless disregard for the rights of King such as to permit King to recover from the defendants compensatory and punitive damages.



63.  The preceding paragraphs are incorporated herein by this reference.

64.  All persons are charged with knowing the law. Darden and Watson, due to their positions are particularly charged with knowing the requirements of the law; the most basic is the requirement in a criminal matter is "probable cause."

65.  The defendants' conduct was intended to cause the prosecution of a crime they knew or should have known, especially after Darden's investigation developed no probable cause, King had not committed.

66.  Notwithstanding said knowledge the defendants proceeded to prosecute King.

67.  The defendants' actions were willful, wanton and malicious and/or done with a reckless disregard for the rights of King, such as to permit King to recover from the defendants compensatory and punitive damages.

68.  In the alternative the acts were negligent, grossly negligent and/or done with a reckless disregard for the rights of King such as to permit King to recover from the defendants compensatory and punitive damages.

69.  The prosecution of King may have caused him loss of an election, it did cause him money for his defense; it did cause him to be held up to public disfavor and it did cause him fear, anxiety and apprehension of the loss of his freedom.

70.  King may bring this Count for Malicious Prosecution because he meets all of the elements for the tort. " ... the plaintiff has the burden of proving four essential elements: that the prosecution was (1) malicious, (2) instituted by or with the cooperation of the defendant, (3) without probable cause, and (4) terminated in a manner not unfavorable to the plaintiff. Baker v.  Elmendorf, 271Va.474 (2006). Malice may be inferred from a lack of probable cause.

71. In order to maintain malicious precaution action it is necessary that it be alleged and provided: (1) that the prosecution was set on foot by the now defendants and that it had terminated in a marmer not unfavorable to the now plaintiff; (2) that it was instituted, or procured by the cooperation of the now defendants; (3) that it was without probable cause, and (4) that it was malicious. Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia,  James 0. Wiggs. Jr .•  v.  Marian C.  Farmer,  205 Va 149 (1964) (Emphasis Added)


72.  The preceding paragraphs are incorporated herein by this reference.

73.  The defendants, jointly and severally combined, associated, agreed, mutually undertook and concerted together for the purpose of willfully and maliciously injuring King in his business and profession such as to permit King civil relief under§ 182-500, Code of Virginia.

74.  The conduct of the defendants entitles King to recover treble damages from the defendants and his reasonable attorney fees.

WHEREFORE, the plaintiff, King, demands judgment against the defendants, jointly and severally in the amounts as stated per Count as set forth infra:


Compensatory Damages and an award of reasonable attorney fees.


Compensatory Damages and Punitive Damages.


Compensatory Damages and Punitive Damages.


Compensatory Damages, said damage to be trebled by operation of law and an award of reasonable attorney fees.


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Gwathmey Memorial Trust Awards a Grant to Jackson-Feild

Benjamin Franklin once said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

The Gwathmey Memorial Trust has been investing in Jackson-Feild’s children since 1993, and recently awarded a $20,000 grant to Jackson-Feild Behavioral Health Services to partially fund the salary for a teacher in its new Addiction Recovery Treatment Services program.

The Richard and Caroline T. Gwathmey  Memorial Trust was established by Mrs. Elizabeth Gwathmey Jeffress in 1981 in memory of her parents and is administered by Bank of America US Trust Private Wealth Management and a Board of Trustees.

Jackson-Feild has received several grants since the founding of the Gwathmey Trust.

Puma Rihanna Creeper

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