Ronita Wade wins case against former Selma Mayor

Published 1:08 pm Friday, October 1, 2021

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It took four years of  litigation to end the battle between former Selma Mayor Darrio Melton and City Treasurer Ronita Wade.

Wade sued Melton in Federal court and won. Wade was removed from the job three times with Melton as the Mayor and the city council reinstated her each time.

After a three-day trial,  a seven person jury ruled in Wade’s favor.

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The jury also found Melton guilty of violating Wade’s first Amendment right of Freedom of Political Association under the U.S. Constitution by terminating her 3 times over a 3-year period.The jury awarded Wade — a $50,000 judgement — in addition to about $200,000 dollars — in attorneys fees.

Wade’s attorney, Julian McPhillips, called it a big mess.

“She was subject to what we call a sham investigation,” McPhillips said. “You’re being investigated. We got to get rid of you. And guess what? Turns out the mayor was the one that was causing the investigation in the first place. He was the one that was filing complaints on her at the ethics commission.”

Wade said Melton, who served from 2016 until last year, harassed her often during working hours and off the clock.

“The mayor himself wore a gun and would make attempts to intimidate me — brandishing his weapon that he wore inside of his jacket,” Wade said.. “There were times where he actually followed me around the city after work.”

In the end, Wade prevailed as McPhillips called her victory ‘historic.”

“Justice is served,” McPhillips said. “It showed Ronita Wade was looking out for the rights of Selma residents. The win’s historic because it’ll send a message out to all these mayors across the state, you better be careful how you treat the people under you.”