Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

$250,000 Award in Mississippi False Imprisonment Suit

Last January, a Mississippi federal jury awarded a former prisoner $250,000 for being falsely incarcerated by the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC). The facts of the case exhibit an unbelievable abuse of power by MDOC officials.

After pleading guilty to burglary of an automobile, Will Terrance Porter was sentenced on October 22, 2004 to serve five years in prison. The court, however, suspended four of those years and ordered Porter to serve the remaining year in MDOC’s Intensive Supervision Program, also known as house arrest.

On April 19, 2005, Porter was arrested on suspicion of a misdemeanor charge, which was later dropped. Nevertheless, Porter’s probation officer, Mack E. Cox, placed a hold on him. The day after Porter’s arrest, Cox issued a Rule Violation Report (RVR) that detailed the facts of the arrest.

A hearing was held in May 2005 on the RVR, after Porter was transferred to the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility. MDOC’s hearing officer, Stephanie Jones, found Porter had violated his house arrest. Following MDOC policy, she reinstated the original five-year sentence and Porter was sent to the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman.

Upon exhausting his administrative remedies, Porter filed a Petition for Post Conviction Relief in the Coahoma County Circuit Court. After a January 16, 2007 hearing, the court found that the MDOC lacked authority to reinstate the original sentence, because that was something only a judge could do. Porter was ordered to be immediately released, as MDOC had no authority to hold him.

Porter then filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action alleging false imprisonment, unlawful seizure and due process violations. On January 15, 2009, the jury awarded him $250,000 for the fifteen months he served in the MDOC prior to his release. He was represented by attorney J. Rhea Tannehill, Jr.

On April 1, 2009, the court granted Porter attorney fees of $42,255 and expenses of $2,821.57, with an additional $2,105.40 in costs taxed against the defendants. The MDOC has since filed an appeal, which is pending. See: Porter v. Mississippi Dept. of Corrections, U.S.D.C. (N.D. Miss.), Case No. 4:07-cv-00070-M-D.

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login

Related legal case

Porter v. Mississippi Dept. of Corrections