Robinett and Coleman Win at Mississippi Supreme Court

In an April 2020 decision, the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled in favor of HAT attorneys Claire Robinett and Mike Coleman on appeal in the case of a man arrested in Vicksburg, Mississippi, for discharging a firearm in the city limits. Vicksburg has an ordinance against “unreasonably” discharging a firearm in the city limits.

The man sued, claiming emotional distress due to being arrested and placed in handcuffs. The case was initially tried as a bench trial to a judge, who awarded the plaintiff $150,000 in damages. HAT attorneys appealed on behalf of the city, arguing that the officers’ conduct was routine, non-threatening and cordial. Robinett and Coleman argued that while arresting the man, the officers did not harm him, and his arrest was supported by probable cause. As such, Robinett and Coleman argued that the officers were protected by the sovereign immunity afforded to officers acting in the scope of their employment and who did not act “in reckless disregard of the health and of the safety and well-being of any person not engaged in criminal activity at the time of injury.” 

The Mississippi Supreme Court agreed with Robinett and Coleman, and it reversed the trial court’s decision to award $150,000 and rendered a verdict in favor of the city and its officers.