Rusty Fortenberry - Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC

Rusty Fortenberry

Listed in Best Lawyers since 2013
Phone: 601-351-8948

Rusty Fortenberry concentrates his practice in administrative matters, state and federal criminal matters, government relations, investigations and litigation. Mr. Fortenberry has extensive experience representing businesses and individuals doing business with or having concerns with state and federal governments.

As a former State government official, Mr. Fortenberry has knowledge and experience regarding the internal operations of state government, agencies and boards. He is positioned to offer legal advice and service to individuals and businesses working with, appearing before or having difficulties with state government, boards and agencies. A portion of his administrative government experience includes the following boards and agencies:

  • Mississippi Board of Pharmacy
  • Mississippi Legislature
  • Mississippi Department of Public Safety
  • Mississippi Highway Patrol
  • Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics
  • Mississippi State Crime Lab
  • Mississippi Board of Law Enforcement Standards and Training
  • Mississippi Department of Homeland Security
  • Mississippi Department of Corrections
  • Mississippi Department of Human Services
  • Mississippi Gaming Commission
  • Mississippi State Board of Funeral Service
  • Mississippi Ethics Commission
  • Mississippi Emergency Management Agency
  • Mississippi Personnel Board
  • Mississippi Department of Medicaid
  • Mississippi Department of Informational Technology Services

Mr. Fortenberry is also active defending individuals and corporations charged with felony and misdemeanor crimes in state and federal courts. He has experience handling a variety of criminal cases including: 

  • Public Corruption
  • Embezzlement
  • Fraud
  • Employment of Illegal Aliens and Immigration Crimes
  • Capital Murder
  • Vehicular Homicide
  • Murder
  • Murder for Hire
  • Rape
  • Sexual Battery
  • Molesting
  • Child Abuse
  • Burglary
  • Larceny
  • DUI
  • Sale of Illegal Drugs
  • Possession of Illegal Drugs
  • Possession of Illegal Drugs With Intent to Distribute
  • Assault
  • Forgery
  • Kidnapping
  • Robbery
  • Receiving Stolen Property
  • Threatening Phone Calls
  • Stalking
  • Carrying a Concealed Weapon
  • Shooting in a Dwelling
  • Drive-By Shooting 

From 1992 to 2000, Mr. Fortenberry served two terms as District Attorney for the 13th Circuit Court District of the State of Mississippi. In this capacity he prosecuted misdemeanor and felony criminal cases. He was also responsible for leading legislative efforts on behalf of the Mississippi Prosecutors Association.

During 2004 and 2005, Mr. Fortenberry was appointed by Governor Haley Barbour to serve as Commissioner of Public Safety for the State of Mississippi. In this position, he directed the Mississippi Highway Patrol, Mississippi Bureau of Investigations, Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics and Mississippi State Crime Lab, supervised approximately 1,500 employees, and managed a budget in excess of $100 million. His agency also administered all federal law enforcement related grants in the State of Mississippi. Under his leadership, the Department of Public Safety established one of the nation's first state supported cold case units and the state sex offender registry underwent extensive revision.

As Commissioner of Public Safety, Mr. Fortenberry also served as Executive Director of the Mississippi Department of Homeland Security, where his responsibilities included coordinating disaster relief and supporting the efforts of law enforcement and first responders. During his tenure, Mr. Fortenberry managed the transfer of the Mississippi Department of Homeland Security from the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency to the Department of Public Safety. Responsibility for Homeland Security included administration of millions of dollars of Homeland Security grants to local public entities as well as working with local law enforcement and firefighters.

With regard to government relations, Mr. Fortenberry maintains contacts and works with public officials throughout Mississippi state and local government. He is often consulted for advice with regard to public policy and by those doing business with the state legislature, state agencies and state officials, as well as counties and municipalities throughout Mississippi. His practice continues to include working with companies developing strategies for achieving success in the political and governmental process.

Mr. Fortenberry also served as lead counsel in the defense and successful settlement of a complex class action suit alleging constitutional violations of the rights of foster children in the state of Mississippi. As lead counsel, he advised state agencies with regard to litigation strategies as well as public policy issues related to reforming a human services agency. Mr. Fortenberry continues to work in the arena of foster care litigation as counsel in the oversight of compliance with the requirements of a comprehensive remedial settlement and negotiation of yearly implementation plans.

Mr. Fortenberry continues to serve as counsel in election matters on behalf of public officials and defending law enforcement related section 1983 civil rights suits. He has also conducted internal investigations for a provider of private prisons.

University of MississippiBS 1981University of Mississippi Law SchoolJ.D. 1984
American (Intellectual Property Section Chair, 1988) and Capital Area Bar AssociationsNational Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Mississippi State Bar (2003 – 2006) Mississippi Prosecutors AssociationGovernor's Commission on Criminal Justice Reform (1997 – 1998) Mississippi Board of Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Training (1996 – 1998)Mendenhall (MS) Municipal Court Judge

Office Location

One Eastover Center, Suite 400
100 Vision Drive
Jackson, MS 39211
United States


Practice Areas

Government Relations Practice
Municipal Law