By Linda Cicoira — Johnny Godwin, the former senior state trooper who lost his job in 2016 after being convicted of forging tickets to boost his quota, is being sued by one of the people he falsely accused.
Larry Gordon Marsh II, of Koerney Drive on Chincoteague, is asking Accomack Circuit Court to award him $2 million in compensatory damages and $350,000 in punitive damages plus court costs.
The Virginia State Police were also named in the lawsuit. The department claims it is exempt from legal action due to sovereign immunity, a legal doctrine that says the state cannot commit a legal wrong. The department has asked for the case to be dismissed. A June hearing is scheduled for that argument.
“Trooper Godwin responded to a vehicle accident involving the plaintiff that occurred on Route 175 near the NASA Wallops Flight Facility Visitor Center,” Nov. 26, 2016, the lawsuit states. Godwin responded to the scene and wrote a ticket against Marsh for following too close, which Marsh does not deny occurred. Marsh stated that after Godwin left the scene, he filled out papers with two other charges, which Marsh said came to light when Godwin was arrested.
In the lawsuit, Marsh claims he was falsely accused of “possession of a controlled substance” and that the charge was “made with actual malice and knowledge that the accusations were false,” Marsh said in the court documents. Marsh also claimed that Godwin charged him with of possession of marijuana.
Criminal court records from Godwin’s case state that the other charges that Godwin forged were failure to wear a seatbelt and failure to have his driver’s license in his possession. Godwin filed those charges with the police department but not with the general district court.
Assistant Attorney General Cal Brown will handle the case for the state police. The lawsuit was initially filed in Virginia Beach Circuit Court but was transferred to Accomack in February at Godwin’s request.