COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: HANCOCK COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 04/30/2014. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. ROGER T. CLARK. TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: AFFIRMED APPELLANT'S TERMINATION.
FOR APPELLANT: BENJAMIN U. BOWDEN.
FOR APPELLEE: J. CHADWICK MASK, GARY MCKAY YARBOROUGH JR., CLIFTON MICHAEL DECKER.
BEFORE LEE, C.J., ISHEE AND CARLTON, JJ. LEE, C.J., IRVING AND GRIFFIS, P.JJ., BARNES, ISHEE, MAXWELL, FAIR AND JAMES, JJ., CONCUR. WILSON, J., NOT PARTICIPATING.
[¶1] Clay Necaise appeals the Hancock County Circuit Court's judgment affirming his termination from the police department of the City of Waveland, Mississippi. On appeal, Necaise argues that the circuit court erred because the record lacked substantial evidence to show that he was terminated in good faith for cause. Finding no error, we affirm.
[¶2] From 2008 until October 29, 2010, Necaise worked for the Waveland Police Department. On October 15, 2010, Necaise's fellow officer, Joshua Poyadou, filed a formal complaint against Necaise. Officer Poyadou's complaint alleged that, while on patrol duty on July 22, 2010, Necaise abandoned his responsibilities and had sex with Officer Poyadou's fiancé e, Christy Spence.
[¶3] As a result of Officer Poyadou's complaint, Police Chief James Varnell investigated the allegations against Necaise. Chief Varnell obtained Necaise's time sheet and computer-aided dispatch report (CAD sheets) for the night in question. The CAD sheets detailed Necaise's on-duty activity on July 22, 2010, and showed that Necaise had a period of inactivity at the end of his shift for about an hour and a half. Chief Varnell assigned Officer John Saltarelli to take Spence's statement regarding the alleged incident on July 22, 2010. Spence stated that she had sex with Necaise that night, and the time frame she gave for the incident coincided with the period of inactivity recorded by Necaise's CAD sheets.
[¶4] During the course of the investigation, Chief Varnell reviewed text messages between Necaise and Spence. He also reviewed a videotape provided by Officer Poyadou when he filed his complaint. The videotape captured a discussion between Officer Poyadou and Spence on October 15, 2010, while the couple sat inside Officer Poyadou's patrol vehicle. During the conversation, Spence admitted to Officer Poyadou that she had sex with Necaise on July 22, 2010, while Necaise was on duty.
[¶5] After reviewing the evidence and completing his investigation, Chief Varnell met with Waveland's mayor, the city attorney, and the city clerk on October 29, 2010. Chief Varnell then met with Necaise later that day and informed Necaise of the allegations against him. At the end of the meeting, Chief Varnell gave Necaise a letter notifying Necaise of his termination. The letter set forth the allegations against Necaise and explained the steps Necaise could take to appeal his termination.
[¶6] Following his termination, Necaise filed a grievance and exercised his right to an administrative hearing with Waveland's mayor. Two administrative hearings were held on Necaise's grievance. After the second hearing, David Garcia, ...