A former Supreme Court justice who lives in Caledonia has sued Lowndes County for age discrimination after he twice was passed over for a public defender’s post.
Easley, a Chickasaw County native who served on the state Supreme Court from 2000-2008, seeks back pay, instatement as a public defender, and compensatory and punitive damages, alleging the Board of Supervisors twice appointed younger, less-experienced people, including one who is the daughter of county attorney Tim Hudson and worked with state Rep. Jeff Smith.
A response from the county was not immediately available.
In his federal court lawsuit, the 69-year-old claims he first applied for a public defender’s position in 2014 when he was 65. At the time, supervisors, acting on the recommendation of senior Circuit Court Judge Lee Howard, named Collen Hudson, who was 27 at the time.
She is the daughter of the board’s attorney and was a member of the Sims and Sims law firm before taking a position earlier this year as an assistant district attorney in Scott Colom’s office.
On June 23, 2015, Easley filed an age discrimination complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
On Nov. 6, 2015, Easley applied for another open public defender’s position. This time, supervisors, again acting on recommendations from the court, named Brandon Langford to the post.
Easley alleges Langford was less experienced.
Easley, who has degrees from both Ole Miss and Mississippi State, including his law degree from Ole Miss, started practicing law in 1980. He claims he wasn’t hired because of his age and, in the case of Langford, in retaliation for him filing an EEOC complaint against the county.
Langford has since left the public defender’s post and someone else has been named.
In addition to serving on the Supreme Court, Easley was an assistant district attorney in the Third Circuit District before opening his law practice in Columbus in 1983 and serving as a prosecutor and judge in Caledonia City Court.