Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith turned up the heat on Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood last Friday. The D.A. accused the Attorney General of arresting him because two of the A.G.'s prosecutors feared the D.A. was going to seek an indictment against them from a Hinds County grand jury. Mr. Smith was arrested in June on six misdemeanor counts of improperly helping defendants and using a grand jury to intimidate a Circuit Court judge.
The D.A. made these allegations against the A.G. in a response filed in the County Court of Hinds County last week.
The A.G. had asked the Court to consolidate all proceedings under one judge. The A.G. also requested the Court stay all proceedings in the criminal prosecution of Mr. Smith until a "motion concerning the grand jury" was resolved (One can probably presume that the A.G. is seeking an indictment against the D.A. since he raised the point that he had to be indicted if the A.G. wanted to prosecute him.).
Mr. Smith argued that the Attorney General could not obtain an indictment against Mr. Smith because the prosecutors are prejudiced against him:
2. The Mississippi Attorney General cannot obtain a valid indictment because he is prejudiced against Smith. The accused is entitled to have a Grand Jury directed by a prosecutor whose advice is restricted to “matter of law, sufficiency of service and proper dispatch of the public business. Neither the court nor [a prosecutor] can say to the grand jury that the facts, as shown by the evidence, are sufficient to authorize them to find a bill... The “duties and powers bestowed upon the District Attorney by law, vest that official with substantial control of grand jury proceedings, requiring the exercise of completely impartial judgment and discretion.” People v. DiFalco, 44 N.Y.2d 482, 487 (New York, 1978)(NEW YORK CITY????)
The Mississippi Attorney General arrested Smith and seeks to indict Smith not because of any good-faith belief Smith has committed any crime, but because two Assistant Attorney Generals feared that they were about to be indicted. See, Affidavit of Jamie McBride, Exhibit “C.”
The State should be allowed only a reasonable time to obtain a valid indictment, and Smith requests a speedy trial, to which he is entitled by the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution. (Speedy trial? The irony)
Mr. Smith also opposed consolidating the various cases under one Judge because he said the Mississippi Supreme Court made the assignments and thus made its will known.
The D.A. pulled another arrow from his quiver and fired an affidavit from one of his prosecutors at the Attorney General. Assistant District Attorney Jamie McBride alleged in an affidavit submitted with the D.A.'s response that the two A.G. prosecutors contacted him:
2. During my employment I met, worked with and developed a friendship with Patrick Beasley, Esq. and Shaun Yurkturan, Esq., who also served as Hinds County Assistant District Attorneys. Both Patrick Beasley and Shaun Yurkturan had terminated their employment with the Hinds County District Attorney's Office, and in the Fall of the year of 2015, both were employed as Special Assistant Attorney General's with the Mississippi Attorney General's Office. I have maintained contact with Patrick Beasley and Shaun Yurkturan since they left the employ of the Hinds County District Attorney's Office.The Court dismissed without prejudice several motions and said the Attorney General could submit them to Judge Roberts:
3. A previously empaneled Hinds County Grand Jury was meeting in June of 2016. Late Friday afternoon, immediately prior to the week the June Grand Jury was to be recalled, I received a telephone call from Patrick Beasley. Patrick was very concerned and asked me if I had any knowledge that my office was going to be seeking a criminal indictment against him. I told him that he knew I could not tell him anything regarding what was going to be presented to the grand jury. Patrick told me that he was concerned that he would be arrested and needed to know if was going to need to get legal counsel and a bondsman. I told him that I had no knowledge about him being criminally prosecuted. He then told me that he had heard from a very reliable source that he was going to be indicted and that it was going to be in connection with the State v. Christopher Butler case. I told Patrick that I had participated in a meeting earlier that day, that I believed I was aware of Robert's concerns regarding the Butler case and that to my knowledge none of those concerns had anything to do with him. Present at the meeting to which I was referring were myself, District Attorney Robert Smith, Assistant District Attorney Ivon Johnson, another Assistant District Attorney and a District Attorney's Investigator.
4. Later over the weekend I received a telephone call from Shaun Yurkturan. Shaun was also concerned that Robert Smith planned to seek a criminal prosecution against him. He like Patrick told me that he had heard from a reliable source that our office was going to present evidence seeking an indictment against both he and Patrick. I told him that I had no knowledge that he, Shaun Yurkturan, was being criminally prosecuted.
5. I received a second phone call from Patrick on either the following Monday or Tuesday. He was again very concerned that our office intended to seek a criminal indictment against him. He reiterated that he had heard the same from a very reliable source. I told him again that I him that I had no knowledge about him being criminally prosecuted .
6. Subsequent to Robert Smith's arrest I reported to him the conversation I had with Patrick and Shaun as set forth herein above.
*Motion to disqualify Jim Waide as Mr. Smith's counsel.
*Motion to disqualify Mr. Smith and his prosecutors from attending the Hinds County grand jury
Kingfish note: That was the news, now for some commentary. It is not illegal to ask a prosecutor if his office is presenting a case to the grand jury. Many reporters would be thrown in jail if such would the case as well as a few spouses. The D.A. is probably trying to use the affidavit to show that the A.G. was prosecuting the D.A. in bad faith. In other words, the A.G. had him arrested so he couldn't attempt to indict Mr. Hood's prosecutors thus the arrest was a pre-emptive strike against the D.A.
Then there is the Clarion-Ledger, which can't seem to get basic facts correct. Mollie Bryant reported last Friday:
Before the Hinds County grand jury was to meet in June, Assistant Attorneys General Patrick Beasley and Shaun Yurkturan called Assistant District Attorney Jamie McBride with concerns that Smith's office could be planning to prosecute them, according to his affidavit notarized on Thursday. Both Beasley and Yurkturan previously worked at the district attorney’s office and joined the attorney general’s office last fall. McBride said his conversations with Beasley and Yurkturan took place before Smith's arrest.
Actually, no Mollie. Mr. Beasley joined the Attorney General's office in 2010, shortly after he concluded the prosecution of Karen Irby as a Hinds County Assistant District Attorney. Mr. Yurkturan began working for the Attorney General over 18 months ago and left several months ago. Neither one of them "joined the Attorney General's office last fall." This error was communicated to the editor but no corrections were made to the story. A simple search of the newspaper's archives would have shown earlier stories reporting prosecutions by these two attorneys.