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Judge Allowing Martese Johnson's Lawsuit to Again Move Forward

Posted: Updated: Aug 26, 2016 05:35 PM
Martese Johnson (centered) with attorneys at a federal courthouse in Roanoke Martese Johnson (centered) with attorneys at a federal courthouse in Roanoke
Richard H. Poff United States Courthouse and Federal Building Richard H. Poff United States Courthouse and Federal Building
Martese Johnson Martese Johnson
ROANOKE, Va. (WVIR) -

The federal lawsuit over the arrest of former University of Virginia student Martese Johnson is back on track.

Friday, August 26, a federal judge in Roanoke denied part of a request by the state to throw out Johnson’s $3 million civil lawsuit.

The judge says Johnson's claim of excessive force will move forward, but it could take time to decide if other claims will clear the hurdle.

"We are most gratified by what we heard from the court today, and despite defendants’ efforts to delay this case, it will be moving forward.  And we very much look forward to writing to the merits of this case," said Benjamin Chew, an attorney for Johnson.

Johnson is suing the state’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC), ABC Director Shawn P. Walker, and the agents - John S. Cielakie, Jared B. Miller, and Thomas S. Custer - involved in his arrest outside Trinity Irish Pub in March 2015.

The lawsuit claims Johnson’s civil rights were violated during the bloody, late-night encounter.

The state argued in court that the lawsuit lacks merit because Johnson’s arrest was justified. ABC agents thought at the time that Johnson, who was under the age of 21, was trying to enter a bar with a fake ID. Johnson was using his legal driver’s license, but told a door bouncer an address that was not on the ID.  

The former UVA student is now living in New York City, but did attend Friday’s hearing along with lawyers on both sides.

“I feel good. I'm happy the way things are going, and I'm glad to be back in Virginia,” he said.

Attorneys for the state had no comment on the way out of the federal courthouse.

A jury trial for this case is scheduled for July 2017.

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