Federal trial looks at Lee County deputy’s firing over talking to media

By Patsy R. Brumfield
Daily Journal

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.

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  • Guest

    Poor deputy. Nobody told him that only Jim Johnson gets to be in front of the cameras. It isn’t about truth or freedom of speech, it’s about camera time for Boss Hawg!

    • the_rocket

      Exactly! He was fired for taking Hollywood Jim Johnson’s TV time. The following week Smillin Jim was forced to perp walk two suspects for unpaid parking tickets and another for No Proof Insurance just to recoup his time in the spotlight.

  • DoubleTalk

    Ok. As my friends say, if they have time for this, does that mean they have captured the persons responsible for shooting the elephant ? In the Police Dept and Sheriff Dept backyard at that !