-Judge Melvin Priester, Sr. filed a bar complaint against District Attorney.
-Judge Tomie Green reported Smith to the Bar for alleged incidents of misconduct .
-D.A. allegedly tried to use his mother to influence Judge Green
-Judge Green accused D.A. of harassing Special Master Amy Whitten
The Mississippi Bar filed a complaint against Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith at the Mississippi Supreme Court after two Hinds County Judges reported him to the Bar. The actual complaint is posted below. The bar complaint provides the following information:
*The Bar took note of Smith's conduct (p.2) in Judge Melvin Priester, Sr.'s courtroom on March 3 in the preliminary hearing for Christopher Butler. Earlier post reporting hearing. Copy of transcript included. The complaint states
8. Mr. Smith interrupted the proceedings and accused the Attorney General's Office of misconduct in an unrelated investigation.
9. Judge Priester ultimately postponed the preliminary hearing in the Butler matter due to Smith's conduct.
The disruption allegedly violated the rules that bar a lawyer from "engaging in conduct intended to disrupt a tribunal". Mr. Smith was not a party in the case and filed no motion to intervene or similar actions. He simply appeared unannounced and proceeded to make various charges and accusations against the Attorney General's prosecutors.
The actual bar complaint is posted below (p.6.) and states Judge Priester reported Smith to the Bar in a March 14 letter. Judge Priester's letter states:
Pursuant to the reporting requirements of Cannon 3D(2 ) of the Cannon of Judicial Ethics, it pains me to report that on March 3, 2016, Mr. Robert Smith, District Attorney for Hinds County, appeared before me in my courtroom and proceeded to act irrational, manic. and virtually out of control. Further, he could not stand still for any period of time and continuously moved back and forth from his seat, to the podium or up and down in his seat, even as other attorneys were addressing the bench. I have attached hereto a copy of the transcript for the sake of time; and while recognizing you cannot get an emotional flavor from this document that nevertheless. it must be taken into consideration.
Again, while I regret having to file this report, Mr. Smith's behavior was so bizarre, I am required to do so. Should you have any questions, concerns. or requests for additional information. please do not hesitate to contact me.It appears the Bar took Judge Priester's letter seriously.
*The Attorney General attempted to quash several grand jury subpoenas issued by the D.A in January. (p.3) Senior Circuit Judge Tomie Green appointed Amy Whitten as a special master to hear the A.G.'s petition. The D.A. allegedly tried to contact Ms. Whitten ex parte (Ex parte is communication with the judge outside of the presence of other parties or attorneys. It is usually proper for non-adversarial proceedings such as adoptions or guardianships. It is not so proper for adversarial proceedings such as oh, criminal cases and grand jury proceedings.) Judge Green issued an order prohibiting such ex parte communication. Smith charged Judge Green "had improper ex parte communications with other lawyers, improperly set bond and dismissed criminal cases 'behind his back'". (See how such public complaints turned out for Chokwe Lumumba, Sr.).
The Bar said the rules bar lawyers from communicating with judge's ex parte during a proceeding, attempting to disrupt a tribunal, and attacking the integrity of a judge. (p.4). Judge Green stated in a letter to the Bar on February 17:
l am appalled at your malicious and unprofessional statements made during a February 12, 2016 news conference. Your conduct was intentional, retaliatory and improperly coercive at a time when l had under advisement an issue dealing with the impropriety of subpoenas you issued. Consequently, your accusations caused my family and I to endure unflattering, destructive and dangerous repercussions from the public. Your statements were intentional, and you knew or should have known they would evoke unwarranted outrage by Hinds County citizens.
I demand that you publicly retract your allegations that this Court had improper ex parte communications with Atty. Faye Peterson and/or other attorneys, and that I improperly set bond for Timothy Owens or any other person. Further. I demand that you retract accusations that I dismissed criminal cases "behind your back".
You publicly violated, at least, Rule 9.1 of the UCCRR, and Rules 3.5, 3.6 and 8.4 of the Mississippi Rules of Professional Conduct and DR7-i06(C)(6) of the Disciplinary Rules. I charge that your actions were also unethical as district attorney. You were deceptive and dishonest. Overall, your false accusations are prejudicial to the administration of justice and impede the orderly progression and disposition of criminal cases in our district.
Judge Green also reported to the bar in a handwritten letter attached to the letter quoted above:
I am attaching other documents that proceeded our DA's news conference on 2/12/16. I had under consideration grand jury subpoena that were challenged by the Atty Gen & his staff, the MDOC Marshall Fisher and staff (formerly of MBN). I appointed Amy Whitten as special master. The DA attempt to contact and harass her. I issued a clarification order prohibiting ex parte contact by him or any other party. He never ceased.
On 2/9/16, the DA slipped a handwritten note under my office door "trying to get me to meet with his mother." I know of his mother but have no personal relationship with Alice Smith. I emailed him to let him know the note and request was odd and improper.
The next day his mom left a voicemail at my office. She said it was left in response to me but I never talked to her. She was a bit irate and demanded respect and said she knew "what to do". I can email you the voicemail for review.
Then came the news conference after Amy Whitten's recommendation and my acceptance of the same.
Judge Green includes a handwritten letter that was allegedly written and signed by the D.A. :
Judge Green replied to Smith in an email that said she was "puzzled" about why he wanted her to meet with his mother. She called the request "odd" and said it was "improper for me to meet with your or your mother about specific or unspecified matters."