Melton in court again over damages in libel suit

Jackson Mayor Frank Melton will appear in court again today as a jury tries to decide if he should pay in a libel case.

Melton was convicted of libel nearly two years ago, but a jury deadlocked on damages last October.

The mayor has been in court 16 days fighting criminal and civil charges since his election less than two years ago.

Most recently he was acquitted of felony charges for his role in the partial destruction of an area duplex Melton said was a drug house.

Attorneys for two Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics employees asked the jury for between $9.2 million and $22 million in October.

They argued that an article resulting from a document leaked by Melton harmed the reputations of Robert Earl Pierce, who is no longer with the agency, and Jimmy Saxton. The two men sued Melton after a 2003 article appeared in a Jackson newspaper based on a memo that Melton admitted giving to the paper in 2005.

Once Melton admitted lying about the leaked memo, Lauderdale County Circuit Court Judge Robert Bailey entered a default judgment finding Melton liable.

Melton headed the bureau when he leaked the memo to the newspaper.

It questioned the agents' actions using government equipment and aircraft.