Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Divorce Lawyers Brawl in Court, Are Sent to Jail

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Divorce Lawyers Brawl in Court, Are Sent to Jail

Article excerpt

Byline: Terry Dickson

Pierce County Sheriff Ramsey Bennett said he's accustomed to hauling people straight to jail from contentious court hearings.

But Wednesday was the first time he jailed lawyers, in this case John Thigpen Jr. and Kenneth E. Futch, after a child custody hearing turned into a fistfight, Bennett said.

"I was the first one to them," Bennett said. "I and my two captains separated them."

Thigpen represents Brantley Bowen and Futch represents Dana Larson Bowen in their divorce case. Dana Larson Bowen was recently arrested on drug charges and the estranged couple was in court for a hearing on custody of their child.

"About two hours into the hearing, the lawyers were in a fist fight," Bennett said. "I don't mean pushing and shoving. I mean a fist fight."

Superior Court Judge Andrew Spivey found them both in contempt and ordered them held overnight in the county jail.

"He said this hearing is concluded and you two gentlemen are going to jail," Bennett said.

Spivey later contacted Bennett and said to release the lawyers once they cooled off.

"They spent a couple of hours with us," Bennett said.

Bennett said he's used to "things getting sideways" during domestic hearings, but it's usually not the lawyers.

The fight is just the latest chapter in the history of enmity between Futch and Thigpen.

Thigpen was upset last year over the placement of a handicapped parking sign in front of his law office and got tickets for parking in it himself. The city refused to move it, so Thigpen began going to Blackshear Municipal Court, where Futch was the judge, and offering to represent clients for free. Thigpen then transferred the cases to Pierce County State Court, depriving Blackshear of any fines.

Futch threatened to have Thigpen arrested for soliciting clients during court.

But Thigpen later took on another client, Futch's wife Sheila Futch. She was charged with aggravated assault in Futch's shooting at their home in Alma in April 2016. …

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