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Court Refuses to Throw Out Troy Brown Lawsuit against Leflore County Supervisors

Tuesday, December 15, 2015, 8:45 pm News Flash Archive

In a major setback for the Leflore County Board of Supervisors, today United States Federal District Court Judge Debra Brown refused to toss Troy Brown's lawsuit against the Supervisors for firing him from his job as Emergency Management Director.

The Court's order denying the County's motion may be seen here: Order and Opinion Denying Motion for Summary Judgment

Brown had sued the Board in August 2014, claiming he was fired in retaliation for expressing his opinion in a guest column and letter to the editor in the Greenwood Commonwealth newspaper.

Brown's original complaint, filed by crack civil rights attorney Jim Waide of Tupelo, may be viewed here: Brown v. Leflore County Supervisors Complaint

Brown had complained about alleged interference with his duties by Sam Abraham, the county administrator and chancery clerk. Brown warned that the interference potentially jeopardized the safety of county residents and hindered emergency responsiveness in time of crisis.

Abraham and the county denied Brown's allegations. The Supervisors voted 3 to 2 in February 2014 to fire Brown right after the newspaper published his letter. Some supervisors stated the firing was due to Brown's insubordination and failure to complete the inventory report. At least one supervisor, Wayne Self, told the newspaper that he was personally hurt by Brown telling his story to the newspaper.

Brown denied that he was insubordinate, and claimed that the inventory could not be completed because of interference from various county employees, including Abraham. Testimony produced to the court showed that Brown's column and letter were discussed at length during the executive session in which the decision was made to fire Brown.

The Board, represented by attorneys with Daniel, Coker, Horton and Bell out of Oxford and Jackson, filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, claiming that Brown's suit should be dismissed before it goes to trial.

Both sides battled back and forth, filing almost 100 exhibits between them to argue why or why not the suit should be allowed to continue.

In the end, Judge Brown (no relation to Troy Brown) ruled that Mr. Brown's speech was protected by the First Amendment, and that a jury could plausibly conclude that he was fired for the opinions expressed in his writings.

It is not known at this time when the case will go to trial. Although currently scheduled to be tried January 11, both sides have filed motions to continue the case due to scheduling conflicts. The Court has not yet ruled on those motions.

John Pittman Hey
The Taxpayers Channel

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