Hosemann sues, claims conspiracy led to criminal case

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 13, 2002

[08/13/02]In a lawsuit filed Monday in Warren County Circuit Court, Judge Gerald Hosemann alleges a conspiracy led to the criminal case that was pending against him for five months earlier this year and asks for $2.7 million in actual and punitive damages.

Seven defendants are named: two attorneys and the spouse of one, two Hinds County law enforcement officers, The Vicksburg Post and its managing editor, Charlie Mitchell.

Hosemann, 50, who has been the judge for Warren County Court and Youth Court since 1986, faced an indictment accusing him of beating his former court reporter, Juanita “Nita” Johnston, 48, and leaving her on his ranch property in Hinds County. The case ended May 23 when he pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor disturbing the peace charge after Johnston said publicly that Hosemann did not harm her.

In the nine-page suit, Hosemann accuses Johnston’s then-attorney, Paul Kelly Loyacono, and Loyacono’s wife, Kathryn, who works in his office, of pressuring Johnston to make statements that led to Hosemann’s being arrested and charged Dec. 28.

“It’s the silliest thing that I’ve ever read,” Paul Kelly Loyacono said of the lawsuit. “My lawyer will be back soon and we’ll have an answer.” Kathryn Loyacono declined comment.

Missing since Dec. 4, Johnston was found injured on Hosemann’s property Dec. 6 and spent more than a month in hospitals in Jackson and Vicksburg. Vicksburg attorney Travis T. Vance Jr. was with Hosemann when Johnston was found, and the suit accuses him of giving false statements to a Hinds sheriff’s deputy.

“You would think that a sitting judge would have more sense than to file such a frivolous lawsuit,” Vance said. “The reading of the lawsuit was rather amusing and frivolous, and I think it will be quite interesting when all the facts come out.”

Hosemann also names two Hinds Sheriff’s Department investigators, Eddie Robinson and Pamela Turner, alleging the sworn statements through which they obtained search and arrest warrants were based on false claims.

Hinds County Sheriff Malcolm McMillin said he did not think it would be appropriate for Turner or Robinson to comment. “Anybody can file a lawsuit,” McMillin said. “We’ll see him in court.”

In legal terms, Hosemann, represented by Madison attorney Dennis L. Horn, claims “intentional infliction of emotional distress, conspiracy to procure the unlawful arrest and incarceration of (Hosemann), libel and slander.”

The suit says that, while Johnston was hospitalized and in a weak condition, her attorney, Loyacono, who represented Johnston in civil actions against Hosemann that have been dismissed, his wife, Kathryn, and Turner “embarked upon and engaged upon a course undue influence and intimidation in an effort to force Ms. Johnston to sign a statement to the effect that (Hosemann) had physically assaulted Ms. Johnston.”

The suit says Robinson filed an affidavit for a search warrant that falsely said Johnston “was found severely beaten and that before lapsing into unconsciousness she identified her assailant as (Hosemann).”

The newspaper is accused of libel for printing that Johnston was severely beaten and, the suit says, that she had signed an affidavit naming Hosemann.

“We have accurately covered this story since we learned of it and have presented both sides fairly,” said Post editor and publisher Pat Cashman. “We were the first newspaper to print Hosemann’s assertion of innocence. It’s up to the court now.”

Mitchell is accused of slander for a statement alleged to have been made during a phone call from Hosemann’s attorney at the time, William Kirksey.

On April 24, two days after Hosemann was arraigned on the indictment, he was suspended with pay by the Supreme Court on recommendation of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance. That suspension was lifted July 26 after the commission said the basis of its complaint against Hosemann been resolved.

“I have been completely exonerated professionally by all trial courts, cleared by unanimous vote of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance and, ultimately, the Supreme Court of Mississippi,” Hosemann said. “I’m back on the bench working very hard, and on behalf of my elderly mother, brothers, sisters, ancestors and friends I filed a lawsuit, principally to clear my name.”

Named parties have 30 days to file responses to the lawsuit. It had not been assigned to a circuit judge.