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Thursday, April 25, 2024 | Back issues
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Sacramento Private Eye Sues Sheriff

SACRAMENTO (CN) - The Sacramento County sheriff refuses to let a private investigator enter his jails to see clients and potential clients, the private eye claims in court.

Terri Gunn says that after years of unrestricted access to Sacramento County jails, the sheriff in 2010 suddenly denied entrance to the main county jail without explanation or warning.

She sued Sheriff Scott Jones and his department, the county, its Conflict Criminal Defenders department and its director Fern Laetham in Superior Court, alleging constitutional violations, conspiracy, tortuous interference and unfair trade.

Gunn claims the sheriff singled her out and prevented her from visiting inmates, including some with mental disorders and inmates pleading not guilty by reason of insanity, to harm her growing investigative firm.

"Gunn's clients, as well as Gunn's prospective customers, have declined to do business with Gunn, as a result of the conduct of defendants in disallowing Gunn to communicate with clients and others housed at the Sacramento County Main Jail," according to the Nov. 6 complaint.

Gunn has been a licensed private investigator in California since 1985 and runs G&G Investigations in Sacramento. She says that she has unrestricted access to state prisons and mental health hospitals, but being barred from county jails has forced her to forgo offers from numerous attorneys and inmates.

Gunn says the county also has barred her from participating in its court-appointed attorney program, which pays private investigators up to $60 per hour. She claims program director Laetham has even denied her cases that do not require inmate visits.

"Laetham has failed to provide justification for denial of work Gunn previously was approved to perform, that did not require access to the county jail system," the complaint states.

Sheriff's Department spokesman Tony Turnbull said he could not comment on litigation.

After being told she could not enter county jails without an attorney, Gunn says, Sheriff Jones denied her request for a hearing on the restrictive policy. She filed a Public Records Act request over the denial but says Jones "denied a request for evidence" and refused to provide information about the decision.

She seeks an injunction and punitive damages.

She is represented by Daniel Karalash with Strategic Law Command of Sacramento, who did not reply to requests for comment.

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