Appeals court rules in officer case

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 8, 2009

VICKSBURG (AP) — The state Court of Appeals has thrown out part of a ruling by Warren County Circuit Court concerning a fired Vicksburg police officer.

In an unanimous decision this past week, the court said a trial judge erred in finding that former officer Anthony Lane was due more than a year’s back pay from the city following his 2005 suspension without pay from the force.

Lane, then 29, was indicted for sexual battery in July 2005 after having consensual sex with a 17-year-old Vicksburg High School student.

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Lane was a school resource officer in June 2004 at the time of the incident. A separate indictment naming another officer, Bobby Jones, for similar charges involving the same girl, was dropped without trial. Jones has since returned to the police force.

A jury acquitted Lane of the charge in June 2006. A month later, the Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen fired Lane after he had been suspended without pay for nearly a year.

Lane’s termination was upheld by the Civil Service Commission, saying his ‘‘conduct was unbecoming of a police officer, that by virtue of his indictment and resulting trial and testimony given in that trial, that (Lane) had lost the trust and respect of the public, and that he had violated his oath’’ of office.

Lane appealed that ruling to circuit court, where Judge Isadore Patrick — who had presided over Lane’s criminal trial — ruled in January 2008 that while the commission acted within all state and federal law in its decision, Lane’s suspension without pay was without merit because of language in Lane’s suspension letter saying the suspension would stay in effect until ‘‘the court issues a decision.’’