MARSHFIELD – A panel was selected from 68 prospective jurors Tuesday in the case of a Texas County court clerk who is suing the Texas Country prosecutor alleging he abused his office in an attempt to quiet her and another county employee.
The case, filed July 10, 2009, was moved to Webster County on a change of venue. It has been surrounded in publicity since its inception. Hearing the case is Howell County Judge Don M. Henry.
In the lawsuit, Mildred S. Williams seeks compensatory and punitive damages against Michael R. Anderson on three counts: (1) Malicious prosecution related to a lawsuit Anderson filed against her and the other employee Monica Daniels Hutchison, (2) Abuse of process and (3) Defamation.
Selection of the eight women and five men, which includes an alternate, took from 9 a.m. until the jury was seated at about 4 p.m.
This is the third lawsuit involving Anderson related to incidents that occurred in late 2005 and early 2006. Those, as well as the previous lawsuits, were reviewed by attorneys during opening statements before court recessed until Wednesday morning.
Attorney David Steelman of Rolla said in his opening statement that testimony will prove all allegations made against Anderson.
Williams states in her lawsuit that Anderson’s improper or wrongful motives included illegal retaliation against her for witnessing his sexual harassment of Hutchison. Williams alleges he then attempted to keep her from testifying by intimidation or coercion.
Williams is seeking payment of compensatory damages for emotional pain and suffering, embarrassment, humiliation, mental anguish, costs and expenses incurred to defend herself.
Conversely Anderson’s attorney Warren Harris of Springfield said during opening statements that his client is innocent of all charges.
Anderson was first elected in 2002, then reelected in 2006 and 2010.
Texas County officials and employees, law enforcement officers, several residents, expert witnesses and Herald publisher Brad Gentry are expected to be called to the stand. The trial is expected to last at least through Friday.
Anderson along with the Texas County government were the subject of a federal lawsuit filed by Hutchison in January 2009 that included many of the same charges. Just as a jury was about to be seated in Springfield federal court last spring to hear almost five years worth of lurid accusations, that lawsuit was settled out of court after the county was dismissed as a plaintiff. The outcome was then sealed by a federal judge.
Previously both Williams and Hutchison, a former prosecuting attorney office worker, were sued by Anderson in May 2006. He alleged the women had engaged in a smear campaign against him and used their positions to “do favors” for friends while they were also involved in a swinger-type sex ring out of the courthouse. Anderson dropped the lawsuit several weeks later.