Firm members, James Heidelberg and April McDonald, recently secured a defense verdict in federal court in a malicious prosecution case. The action centered on a 2011 incident where James Hagen, former Ocean Springs Alderman, was arrested on charges of unlawful touching of a minor, embezzlement, and possession of child pornography on a city issued computer. A local grand jury failed to indict on the embezzlement charge. After the other charges were dropped, Hagan sued Jackson County, then-Sheriff Mike Byrd and four Jackson County sheriff deputies for a variety of federal and state law claims. Jackson County retained the firm to represent the four deputies.
During the course of the litigation, the US District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi granted summary judgment as to (a) Jackson County, (b) three of the four deputies, and (c) all but one claim against Deputy Hope Thornton and Sheriff Mike Byrd. The Court ordered a trial as to Thornton and Byrd on Hagan’s malicious prosecution claim arising from the embezzelment charge no-billed by the grand jury. After a four day trial, the jury reached a verdict in favor of Thornton and Byrd on the remaining malicious prosecution claim.
The deadline for post-trial motions has not yet expired.