Avoiding conflicts of interest — or even perceived conflicts of interest — is an important duty of court administrators. That’s why a visiting judge and a visiting prosecutor were used to hear the criminal and civil charges against the son of former City Council member Joyce Woodson. On Tuesday, an Alexandria jury returned a $205,000 civil verdict against Samuel Howard Woodson IV and two of his friends, Zachary Joseph Fenner and Zachary Marck Brown, for their part in the 2004 beating of Armstrong Wiggins Jr. Each of the defendants was convicted of misdemeanor charges in Alexandria General District Court in July 2005. Samuel Howard Woodson III represented his son.
Court documents show that Wiggins was driving with his friend, Christopher Agne — the son of Judge Constance Frogale — along Braddock Road on May 10, 2004. When Wiggins and Agne came upon an underage drinking party that had spilled into the road, they stopped. Fenner, Woodson and Brown approached their vehicle and made obscene gestures at Wiggins and Agne.
“The Defendant Fenner, without just cause or provocation, committed an assault and battery upon Plaintiff Wiggins by striking him in the face and head, lunging at his body, knocking him to the ground,” wrote Kevin Byrnes, Wiggin’s lawyer, in his motion for judgment. “Thereafter, Defendant Fenner, Defendant Woodson and Defendant Brown, without just cause or provocation to kick Plaintiff Wiggins in the face head and body.”
The civil suit sought damages from Wiggins’ “extreme pain and distress” as a result of the attack. According to testimony in the case, Wiggins suffers from serious permanent injuries, including double vision and severe headaches. Although he initially asked for $1 million, the jury awarded $205,000.