Freeman v. HolyfieldAnnotate this Case
Plaintiff James Freeman, a parolee whose earlier parole from a life sentence for murder was revoked, appealed a trial court's dismissal of his claims against the City of Birmingham; Birmingham Police Officer Dewayne Holyfield, Charles W. Edwards; and Alma Berry, alleging false arrest, false imprisonment, and conspiracy. Freeman was convicted of first-degree murder in 1975, and was sentenced to life in prison. He was granted parole in 1993. In 1995, Officer Holyfield responded to a complaint that a man was beating a female near 14th Avenue North in Birmingham. Officer Holyfield drove to that address and discovered a female whose neck had been scratched and whose eyes were blackened and swollen. She claimed that Freeman had attacked her. Based on this incident, a warrant was issued the next day for Freeman's arrest. He was arrested and charged with "domestic assault" hours after the warrant was issued. As a result of the arrest, Edwards, then the executive director of the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles, initiated parole-revocation proceedings against Freeman. Berry was the parole-revocation hearing officer at the proceedings. Berry found sufficient evidence to support the charge of domestic assault against Freeman, and recommended the revocation of Freeman's parole. A member of the Board of Pardons and Paroles adjudged Freeman guilty of domestic assault and revoked his parole. At the time his parole was revoked, no court had adjudged Freeman guilty of domestic assault. Freeman was incarcerated and remained in prison until March 7, 2011, when he was again released on parole. From 1995 to 2011, Freeman was denied parole six times, based in part, he alleges, on his having committed the offense of domestic assault, of which he had never been convicted. In 2012, Freeman reported to the municipal court in Birmingham "to address the 1995 charge of 'domestic assault.'" He claimed that, when he arrived at the municipal court, he learned for the first time that the 1995 charge was assault and battery and not domestic assault. Freeman filed this suit in 2014, more than 18 years after the revocation of his parole in 1995 and 2 years, 11 months, and 29 days after he appeared in the municipal court in Birmingham and allegedly learned of the assault-and-battery charge against him. After review of Freeman's arguments on appeal of the trial court's dismissal of his claims, the Supreme Court found no reversible error, and affirmed the dismissal of those claims.