By Joel Hall
Clayton County Board of Education member Trinia Garrett, and a man with whom she shared a home, have been charged with one county each of simple battery and simple battery/family violence.
The charges stem from an April incident, in which Lake City police allege that Garrett, 36, provoked an altercation with Albert Stocken, after an argument about a credit card bill.
Clayton County Solicitor General Tasha Mosley filed charges against Garrett and Stocken on July 15. An arraignment for both has been scheduled for Aug. 3, at 9 a.m., in State Court, before Judge Linda Cowen.
According to Mosley, Garrett and Stocken could each face up to 12 months in prison, or probation, a $1,000 fine, and community service time.
"It looks like it started off as an argument between the two that escalated into some shoving and grabbing," Mosley said. "With simple battery, you are looking at pushes, slaps, scratch marks ... there are no black eyes. Simple battery is more of an insulting or provoking nature. It's a misdemeanor, not a felony."
According to court records, on April 19, Garrett allegedly provoked Stocken, with whom she had lived for 18 months prior to the incident. The argument, according to a Lake City Police report, started about a credit card charge of approximately $85 for a motel room. Lake City Police Officer Carol Parker reported that Garrett "allegedly grabbed a chain and pulled it from the neck of Stocken."
Garrett was arrested on April 21, and released the following day on $2,000 bond, according to court records.
Steven Lister, a managing partner with the Lister & Holt law firm in Jonesboro, said both Garrett and Stocken were being provided with indigent defensive lawyers from the firm. However, Lister would not say on Monday which lawyers would be representing them.
"The case is assigned to Judge Cowen," he said. "Aug. 3 is when the arraignment is scheduled. That's absolutely all I can tell you at this time."
As a member of Clayton County's school board, Garrett represents the parents and students of 15 public schools, according to the system's web site. They include Riverdale, Mt. Zion, and Forest Park high schools; Babb, Jonesboro, Riverdale, and Sequoyah middle schools; and Fountain, Harper, Haynie, Kilpatrick, Lake City, Morrow, Riverdale, and Tara elementary schools.
When asked about the situation involving Garrett, BOE Chairman Alieka Anderson said, "It is too early for us to decide" whether to seek disciplinary action through the school board's ethics commission. Anderson said until Garrett is found guilty of something, the board is considering the charges to be a private matter.
"This is a personal issue, and not a school board issue at this time," she said. "Unless she is convicted, there is nothing more for us to discuss."