Rogers County DA sues over petition drive

CLAREMORE — District Attorney Janice Steidley has filed a defamation lawsuit against the Rogers County leaders who spearheaded a petition drive to get her removed from office.

BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: October 17, 2013
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CLAREMORE — District Attorney Janice Steidley has filed a defamation lawsuit against the Rogers County leaders who spearheaded a petition drive to get her removed from office.

Steidley filed the lawsuit Wednesday against Rogers County Sheriff Scott Walton, Claremore police officers John Singer and Steve Cox and others. The group gathered the nearly 7,000 signatures needed to impanel a grand jury, but a judge ruled this week that improper paperwork was used.

A local newspaper reported Thursday that Steidley's lawsuit claims she and others in her office were wrongly and maliciously accused of criminal and civil misconduct.

“The false statements contained in the unauthorized petition were made by defendants in bad faith, with malice and with the specific intent of harming plaintiff's reputations and careers,” said the lawsuit, which was filed by Steidley's outside attorney and not the district attorney's office.

The petition had asked for an investigation into allegations that Steidley tampered with witnesses, wiretapped courthouse employees along with an assistant district attorney, and sent threatening text messages to a deputy sheriff.

The suit asks for more than $20,000 in actual damages on two defamation counts, and punitive damages of at least $500,000.

Walton has said he will continue the push for a grand jury to investigate Steidley, saying he hopes the attorney general's office will take on the issue.