I-Team: Delayed Justice - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

I-Team: Delayed Justice


Brenda Wilson has found herself in a legal fight more than 16 months in the making.

"He never called us, never did business with us after that. We kept going back there, I kept going back and he would tell different lies," said Wilson.

For Brenda the fight means trying to recoup the $1,700 she says her son Chevis paid in cash to Melvin Canty for a used truck at J's Auto World on North Beck in Baton Rouge back in March of 2011.

"He said since he paid me all this money I'm going to have it running in three days and he promised Chevis the truck would have a new headlight, air condition running and I'm going to fix it up where you don't have to come back to me. It's going to be good," said Wilson.

But Brenda says her son Chevis never received the truck or his money back, prompting her to file a small claims suit in Baton Rouge City Court. She was charged almost $70 by the court to issue a summons for Canty, the truck salesman, to appear in court for that hearing. Documents show that Canty did not appear for that hearing and the judge ruled in Wilson's favor ordering Canty to repay the $1,700.

The next step was a debtor rule hearing, where a plan was scheduled to be worked out for Canty to pay Wilson. Once again, Wilson paid the court $70 for a summons to be issued to Canty to appear. However, in October when officers of the court went to serve Canty with that summons, they documented they could not find him.

Fast forward another two months to December, Brenda Wilson had to come up with another $70 for yet another summons for Melvin Canty. This time, the servers found Canty and ordered him to appear in court.

At that hearing on January 18 of 2012, Canty did not appear and the judge issued a civil warrant for his arrest as a no show. Brenda's final tally on trying to get Canty before a judge was just over $200 in court fees and still nothing to show for her efforts.

"He's just a bold, low down crooked person," said Wilson.

We tried to find Canty ourselves but his shop was locked and no one answered the door when we stopped by however, our trip to Canty's garage is one more than anyone from the city or East Baton Rouge Parish has made in the 11 months since the arrest warrant was issued.

"Quite simple we don't have enough man power. Us or the Sheriff's office," said Baton Rouge City Constable Reggie Brown.

Brown says together with the Sheriff's Office they have less than 10 people on the streets working warrants. In other words, it's all about manpower and Brown admits his department is overwhelmed.

"As you know we have a back log of over a hundred some thousand warrants in Baton Rouge city court alone," added Brown.

We're told as many as 110,000 to be more exact and with that many outstanding warrants, Brown says civil warrants, including those calling for the arrest of defendants like Canty, often get placed on the back burner.

"It's important in our process because we consider all of them something that need to be worked. It takes a little bit of special attention and effort to work a civil warrant which is quite different than working a criminal," said Brown.

Brown concedes that civil warrants do not get as much attention because they often do not contain information included in criminal warrants, such as date of birth, social security numbers and pictures. The result is that civil warrants like Canty's are piling up.

Inattention that leaves Brenda at a legal impasse and losing faith in the system.

"I've called down to the civil department and they give me so many numbers to call and even the bench warrant and just tell me the same," said Wilson. "We want our money that is just too much money."

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