Jury begins deliberations in Madison malicious prosecution case

Amelia Flood May 7, 2009, 1:00pm


The lawyers have had their say and tomorrow, jurors will resume deliberations in a malicious prosecution and defamation suit brought against the City of Madison and one of its police officers. Jurors heard closing arguments late Thursday afternoon from plaintiff attorney Brian Polinske and defense counsel James Craney.

Deliberations will resume at 9 a.m. Friday.

Polinske asked the jury on several occasions to put themselves in the place of his client, Stephen Rose.

"You would think the police officer would back up the security guard," Polinske said.

Rose had been working as a security guard when he was arrested on multiple felony charges in June 2006. Rose was arrested after he called the Madison Police Department for help with the arrest of a woman acting as a prostitute and a man in possession of crack cocaine.

Rose was originally arrested for impersonating a police officer, carrying concealed weapons, and unlawfully using a red light among other charges.

The plaintiff has argued that Sgt. Neal Mize - and by extension his employer, the city – acted maliciously and defamed him by sending out information about his arrest to his employer and other agencies.

The cause for that maliciousness, Polinske told jurors, was retaliation for Rose witnessing Madison police officers allegedly beating a trucker at the Pilot Truck Stop in May of that year.

"Interestingly enough, though, my client is locked up in St. Clair County on multiple felony charges," Polinske said. "That's malice, folks."

All the felony charges against Rose were dropped by the St. Clair County State's Attorney.

Polinske argued throughout his case that Mize fabricated witness statements and threatened the manager of the truck stop, Athena Brown, who Polinske argues was a witness on the night of Rose's arrest.

Polinske said that he was asking the jury for lost wages damages of more than $15,000, a towing fee from the night of the arrest and other damages. While he had quoted them the damage figure of $200,000 in his opening statements, he told jurors he would leave the final number to them.

Defense attorney James Craney shook his head and told jurors that what the plaintiff was trying to make them believe was "crazy."

"There's direct evidence, there's circumstantial evidence and then there's just out there," Craney said. He argued that Mize and the other officers had been justified in arresting Rose because of the many weapons and other police equipment he had with him while on duty. Craney pointed to the fact that Rose was not wearing the proper uniform at the time and that by dressing in a park ranger uniform, he proved the officers' suspicions that he was an imposter.

"This guy is a wannabe cop," Craney said. "He thinks he's a police officer or at least some kind of crusader." He argued that Rose had told others he was a police officer when in fact he was not. Craney went on to argue that Rose was not fired because of what the police officers did, as he claimed, but rather because he violated his own company's policies.

Craney asked jurors not to be taken in by what he called "illusions," and "smoke and mirrors."

"This guy is dangerous," Craney said. "This whole thing is crazy."

The case originally included three defendants. Madison police officer Curtis Bradley was granted a summary judgment in April. The judgment found for Bradley on all counts of the complaint.

The trial began May 4. Madison Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder is presiding.

The case is Madison case number 06-L-733.

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