Oral arg. – COA – 8/15/2018

At 10:00 the COA will hear the case of Sharon Mark v. City of Hattiesburg,  Mayor Johnny Dupree, Kim Bradley, Deborah Delgado, Carter Carroll, Dave Ware, and Henry Naylor.
Sharon Mark started working for the City in 1991 as a records clerk.  In 2004 she became the city clerk. In 2012 rumors began circulating that there were problems in the municipal courts.  Some of these rumors involved Mrs. Mark. She sued claiming the defendants slandered her and released confidential medical information (Mrs. Mark was ill  and had taken some leave during the summer of 2012).  The trial court granted summary judgment to the City and then a directed verdict for the individual defendants. Mrs. Mark appealed.

According to the Appellee’s brief, and “investigation disclosed that deputy court clerks were lowering fines for certain members of the public, accepting gifts and gratuities, and they were routinely dismissing charges. The investigation revealed municipal court deputy clerks accepted gift cards for food and clothing, Christmas gifts, and other quid pro quo favors from persons in city court during Mark’s tenure. (R. Exh. P21 ). At times, Mark illegally permitted her deputy court clerks to act as the city prosecutor, without the prosecutor present, and the clerks would routinely, with the knowledge of Mark, illegally provide the municipal judge with blank arrest warrants to be signed and used at a later time. In addition to unwarranted dismissals, reductions, waiver of fees, and other actions, Mark herself intervened on behalf of a certain person, Eric Bryant, who had an offense pending in municipal court.” Mrs. Mark was suspended for ten days and ordered to pay $300.00 restitution for a case wherein she improperly lowered a fine.  Instead of paying the fine, she filed suit.   Mayor Dupree transferred her to the position of
Housing Coordinator for Federal and State Programs. When Mrs. Mark was asked at trial who had slandered her and what was said, she pointed to Kim Bradley and an interview he gave in which he stated that clerks were involved in inappropriate behavior.

According to Mrs. Mark, the mayor investigated the matter and testified that she had done no wrong and that she was completely trustworthy.  She is still employed by the City.

Sharon Mark’s brief

City of Hattiesburg’s brief

Sharon Mark’s reply brief

Watch the argument here

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