US Supreme Court Declines to Hear Case Tied to Suicide of Mississippi Lawyer

Family contends he was wrongly accused of aiding a scheme alleging that a US senator was having an affair while his wife was bedridden in a nursing home.
US Supreme Court Declines to Hear Case Tied to Suicide of Mississippi Lawyer
The U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, on Feb. 8, 2024. (Julia Nikhinson/Getty Images)
Katabella Roberts

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Feb. 20 that it will not consider a lawsuit filed by the family of a Mississippi lawyer who took his own life nearly a decade ago after being arrested due to his alleged involvement in a political scheme.

The request for a hearing in the case was filed by an attorney for lawyer Mark Mayfield’s family shortly after the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals also denied a request for a rehearing.

Mr. Mayfield, an attorney in Madison County, was arrested by the Madison Police Department in 2014 after allegedly providing information to people who snuck into a nursing home and photographed the ailing wife of U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran during a contentious election.

At the time, State Sen. Chris McDaniel was running against Sen. Cochran, a longtime incumbent, in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate.

The photograph of Mr. Cochran’s wife, Rose Cochran, appeared briefly online during the Republican primary in a video that accused her husband of having an affair while she was bedridden with dementia.

Mr. Cochran repeatedly denied the accusation.

The video was quickly taken down and those who aided in its recording were reported to various law enforcement agencies in Madison County.

Police Arrest Mayfield

Prosecutors said in court documents that Mr. Mayfield, who was among those arrested and who also founded the Mississippi Tea Party, supported Mr. McDaniel’s effort to unseat Sen. Cochran in the Republican Party primary.

They alleged that the attorney had assisted the people who snuck into the nursing home and photographed Mrs. Cochran, noting that Mr. Mayfield’s mother was also living in the same nursing home.

According to prosecutors, this allowed Mr. Mayfield to advise the individuals on how to find Mrs. Cochran.

Mr. Mayfield subsequently lost at least one big client and he was heavily scrutinized in the media following allegations of his involvement in the scheme, which led to him suffering from depression, court documents state.
Three days after Mr. McDaniel lost the Republican runoff, Mr. Mayfield committed suicide.

Family Files Lawsuit

Mr. Mayfield’s family later sued the city of Madison, Mayor Mary Hawkins Butler, and law enforcement officials, arguing that his arrest was politically motivated and was due to his support of Sen. McDaniel. They said that his First and Fourth Amendment rights were violated.

They further argued that events following his arrest led him to take his own life.

Following the Supreme Court’s decision, Dorsey Carson, the attorney for Mr. Mayfield’s wife and sons, said the family had shown “persistence, courage and diligence” in exposing alleged government abuse.

The decision by Madison officials and law enforcement officers to arrest Mr. Mayfield “was wholly political,” Mr. Carson said.

“Although the Mayfield family will not have the opportunity to tell his story to a jury, Mark would be proud that his family fought the good fight and kept the faith to the end,” the attorney said.

Sen. McDaniel was never implicated in the scandal. He told law enforcement officials that neither he nor his office had authorized the photographs of Mrs. Cochran.

Two other people allegedly involved in the scheme in 2014—John Mary and Clayton Kelly—each pled guilty to conspiracy.

Mr. Cochran’s wife died the month after he was re-elected and the senator went on to marry a longtime aide in May 2015.

He died in 2019.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts or mental health matters, please call the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988 to connect with a trained counselor, or visit the 988 Lifeline website.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.