ABERDEEN – A seven-member jury will consider whether a Lee County deputy’s firing was right or not.
Rodricus Carltez Hurst, the former deputy, sued Lee County and Sheriff Jim Johnson in 2013 claiming he was fired because of the content of what he told the news reporters about a New Year’s Eve bar fight.
His federal employment lawsuit insists that his firing violated his rights to free speech when on Jan. 1, 2012, he told sports reporter Brad Locke and others that Mississippi State University football player Chad Bumphis of Tupelo was in jail after the fight, then was released on his own recognizance.
The sheriff’s department has a policy of employee termination for releasing information without authorization.
The jury of three men and four women was seated about 12:25 p.m. Two of its members are black. Hurst also is black.
In June, U.S. District Judge Sharion Aycock granted part of Lee County’s request to dismiss the lawsuit. She said issues Hurst brought to hearings for unemployment benefits already were decided judicially and could not be tried again.
However, she agreed Hurst could pursue his lawsuit on the media communications policy to determine if it is constitutionally valid under the First Amendment to the U.S. constitution.
Hurst is represented by Tupelo attorneys Jim Waide and Rachel Pierce Waide.
Defense attorneys are Gary Carnathan and Bill Murphree of Tupelo.
• Watch for an update in Tuesday’s Daily Journal.