John Mooney

John Mooney III

Opening arguments will begin today in a civil lawsuit filed against Atlantic City by a former resort police chief.

John Mooney retired from the police department in May 2010, just before the city implemented a plan to demote him to deputy chief, a move he claims resulted from political retaliation and reverse discrimination.

Despite his public feuds with Mooney, Mayor Lorenzo Langford has said the decision was made to save money. At the time, Langford said he wanted to downgrade Mooney to deputy chief and hire a public safety director, a position that had been empty for years. Mooney had been with the department for 34 years.

Jury selection in the case began Monday and was completed by Thursday afternoon at the Atlantic County Civil Courthouse in Atlantic City.

A victory for Mooney could mean a return to the police department. He is seeking damages for the 2½ years remaining on his contract as well as reinstatement to his former position. Ernest Jubilee is now the city's police chief.

Superior Court Judge Carol Higbee ruled in Mooney's favor in June, saying he is entitled to damages sustained by the city's breach of contract.

Opening arguments are scheduled to begin at 9 a.m.

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