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Former Texas Deputy Settles Claim that Boss Defamed, Wrongfully Prosecuted Him

by Christopher Zoukis

Mark McAvoy, a former sheriff's deputy in Shelby County, Texas, settled a federal lawsuit against his former employer on May 20, 2013.

McAvoy began his employment as a deputy in November 2010. When he was hired, Sheriff Newton Johnson, Jr. allegedly told him not to investigate drug dealers or to pull over drunk drivers, or he would be fired. After McAvoy pulled over Sheriff Johnson himself for drunk driving in March 2011, he was, in fact, fired.

On his way out of town after losing his job, McAvoy decided to store his horses with Max Whitley. Before he dropped them off with Whitley, one of the horses, Splinter, died. Sheriff Johnson charged McAvoy with animal cruelty as a result of Splinter's death.

McAvoy ended up spending 67 days in jail on the charges. He was ultimately found innocent, and subsequently sued Johnson for malicious prosecution, libel/defamation, violation of his right to free speech, and retaliation. He sought actual and punitive damages, plus attorney's fees.

The parties reached a settlement on May 20, 2013, the details of which were unavailable. As part of the settlement, the case was dismissed.

Case: McAvoy v. Johnson,United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Case No. 2:12-cv-00310-JRG (May 20, 2013).


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Related legal case

McAvoy v. Johnson