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Ex-sheriff's case is back in court
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Forsyth County News


Arguments were scheduled Thursday in federal court in a multi-million dollar libel suit involving a former Forsyth County sheriff.

It is not clear when the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals will issue a ruling on the lawsuit filed by Danny Bennett and Danny Reid against Dennis "Denny" Hendrix.

Bennett and Reid were awarded $3.6 million and $3.1 million, respectively, after a federal jury in May 2007 ruled in favor of their claims that Hendrix had libeled them in campaign materials from a 2000 election.

A U.S. District Court judge overruled the jury's decision in November 2007, but then reinstated part of it in May 2010, awarding Bennett the $3.6 million.

Hendrix appealed the decision in October, court documents show, arguing that Bennett couldn't prove he was defamed and that Hendrix is entitled to a new trial.

Hendrix served as sheriff from 1997 to 2000.

Bennett and Reid sued Hendrix in September 2000 for fliers the sheriff used prior to an August runoff election with Ted Paxton.

The fliers featured mug shots of the two men, both of whom contributed to Paxton's campaign, and other county residents.

Those pictured were labeled as "criminals" and one was labeled a "convicted criminal."

Testimony presented during trial revealed that the pictures of Bennett and Reid were taken in 1995, after they were arrested for allegedly conducting work at a construction site without a permit. Those charges were eventually dropped.

Hendrix held that he hired a political consultant to handle his second campaign and, although the fliers were harsh, he thought they were true.