Judge says store dispute led to his confinement

March 5, 2010 11:25:00 AM PST
A Brownsville municipal court judge is suing a local Sam's Club and its owner, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., alleging that an unnecessary customer service dispute led to his confinement in mental health facilities. The Brownsville Herald reports the suit filed last week by Judge Phil Bellamy accuses store personnel of making a false report to police accusing him of disorderly conduct and terroristic threats.

According to the newspaper, the 46-year-old judge has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and has fought confinement at mental health facilities and court-ordered treatment since Jan. 12. That's when a dispute at the store led to his arrest.

He contends that his First Amendment right to free expression was violated by store employees when they questioned him about the high cost of a pair of diamond earrings he was buying for his wife.