Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Deputy Ivan James Morris - Convicted - Muskegon SD

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Deputy Ivan James Morris charged with domestic violence

On June 28, 2004, Muskegon County Sheriff Deputy Ivan James Morris assaulted his ex-girlfriend. According to reports the 6' 3", 280 pound sheriff deputy threw a drink at the 5' 2", 125 pound woman's head; grabbed her by the neck; and then pushed her to the ground. Both the victim and an eye witness told the police, that during the attack,  Morris said that he was going to kill her.  Deputy Morris was arrested and charged with misdemeanor domestic violence.

During the non-jury trial in November, Deputy Morris claimed that the victim attacked him. Morris testified that he grabbed his ex-girlfriend's arm and "threw her down"...but that he did so to protect himself. "She was going to hit me...To keep a person off me, that what I would do to anyone." 

The Judge obviously did not believe Deputy Morris' claim that he acted in self-defense, as he found Morris guilty of misdemeanor domestic violence. Judge Andrew J. Wierengo III found Sheriff's Deputy Ivan James Morris, guilty of assault and battery/domestic violence.

Muskegon County Sheriff George Jerkas did not dismiss Deputy Morris from the Sheriff Department for: 1] The false testimony he gave during trial regarding a crime he committed; or 2] for the domestic violence assault.

As of 2012, Deputy Ivan James Morris was still employed at the Muskegon County Sheriff Department.

Sheriff's Deputy convicted on domestic violence charge
A Muskegon County jail guard has been convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence.
November 17, 2004
By John S. Hausman
Muskegon Chronicle, MI

After a non jury trial Tuesday, Chief 60th District Judge Andrew J. Wierengo III found Sheriff's Deputy Ivan James Morris, 37, of 6389 Evanston guilty as charged of assault and battery/domestic violence, first offense.

Wierengo ordered a domestic violence assessment and scheduled sentencing for Dec. 28. The maximum possible sentence is 93 days in jail.

The case stemmed from a June 28 incident between the off-duty Morris and his 39-year-old ex-girlfriend during Muskegon Summer Celebration in the crowded Mike's Bar, 555 W. Western.

Witness testimony conflicted at Morris' trial, but by all accounts an angry confrontation between the two ended with Morris pushing or throwing the woman to the floor of the bar.

Prosecution witnesses called it an unprovoked assault that started with Morris throwing his drink on the back of the woman's head, then grabbing her by the neck and swinging her onto the floor.

Morris, on the other hand, testified he acted in self-defense. He said his drink spilled accidentally on the woman when his arm was jostled in the crowd while he was carrying it across the room. He said she then threw several drinks she was carrying at him, then started to swing her fist at him. He testified he grabbed her arm and "threw her down" to defend himself, causing her to fall. "She was going to hit me. ... To keep a person off me, that's what I would do to anybody," Morris testified.

No one testified to any visible injuries on the victim.

The judge said that even if he believed most of Morris' account, the deputy still overreacted and of assault. Wierengo noted the difference in size of the two people: Morris told the judge he is approximately 6 feet 3 inches tall and weighs 280 pounds and the woman is 5 feet 3 inches tall and weighs 120 pounds. "It was a force that seemed to me disproportionate to the situation," Wierengo said.

Afterward, Sheriff George Jurkas suspended Morris from his job as a jail guard for five days without pay. "It's unfortunate," Jurkas said of the situation. "Hopefully he'll put it behind him, and it won't happen again."

The sheriff said the discipline would have been more severe had the victim suffered injuries. Jurkas also noted that Morris, unlike road-patrol deputies, does not carry a firearm in the course of his job, meaning a misdemeanor conviction won't render him unable to do his work.was guilty

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