Ex-deputy says comment about sheriff needing ‘whipping’ was protected by First Amendment, seeks charges dropped

Published 2:05 pm Wednesday, September 25, 2019

A former sheriff’s deputy in Mississippi is asking a court to dismiss his indictment on a charge of retaliation against a public servant.

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports Mike Mayhew of Plantersville argues he was exercising his right to free speech. The attorney general’s office says Mayhew told a witness that Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson deserved a “whipping” after Johnson told state officials that Mayhew submitted time sheets for work Mayhew didn’t do.

Mayhew was indicted June 28. His attorney, Victor Fleitas, argues in a court filing that Mayhew’s statement was not a threat and that the charge of retaliation against a public servant is too vague.

The attorney general’s office says Mayhew was indicted last year for filing false time sheets. He awaits trial.