Update: Judge Bell postponed the hearing that was scheduled for today.
Embattled Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith asked a Hinds County Court Judge to order the Attorney General to produce sealed transcripts of tape recordings recordings of Ivon Johnson as well as the live bodies of Johnson and Christopher Butler at a hearing scheduled for tomorrow afternoon. Special Judge James Bell will preside over the case.
Attorney General Jim Hood arrested Mr. Smith in June and charged him with six misdemeanor counts of improperly helping Butler and another criminal defendant and using a grand jury to pressure a judge. Former Assistant District Attorney Ivon Johnson pleaded guilty in federal court recently to accepting bribes in exchange for giving favorable treatment to criminal defendants.
Tupelo attorney JIM Waaaaaiiiide represents the District Attorney. A.G. prosecutors filed a motion to disqualify Mr. Waide from representing the D.A.. The prosecution argued it will call Mr. Waide as a witness:
In this case, the State has brought charges alleging that Smith, while acting in his capacity as District Attorney, willfully and unlawfully consulted, advised and counseled Christopher Butler, a defendant who had been charged with embezzlement and wire fraud in the First Judicial District of Hinds County, Mississippi. See Affidavit, Dkt. No. 1. Smith was arrested on the charges filed in this case on June 22, 2016. As part of its case-in-chief in this matter, the State intends to offer evidence that Smith had one or more conversations with Attorney Jim Waide regarding Smith’s attempts to assist Christopher Butler in connection with the pending charges against Butler. For example, in one recorded conversation between Smith and a confidential informant, Smith stated the following: “So we got Jim Waide . . . “ and “he [Waide] came down here straight from New Orleans when I called him. . . .” In a further discussion with the confidential informant about Waide, Smith stated “Oh, we going to get him [Buterl] free now between me and Waide and all that, and then Dennis is doing his thing on the other one.” During another recorded conversation, Smith receives a call and states, “Hey! How you doing, Jim?” This conversation lasts for over 15 minutes. After the call, Smith tell the confidential informant, “That was Jim Waide.” Smith later tells the confidential informant, “he said we have injunctive and declaratory relief.”However, Mr. Smith fired back yesterday and asked for
8. As these excerpts plainly reflect, Smith sought to have Waide represent Butler in a pending case, although Butler already had counsel. Since the Christopher Butler case is a central matter in the State’s case against Smith, Waide will be a necessary witness in the State’s case against his client, Smith. While other witnesses might be called to testify about Smith’s involvement in the Butler case, the State will put in issue the question whether Smith sought to engage Waide to represent Butler and, in that respect, Waide’s testimony is necessary to this prosecution and renders Waide disqualified under Rule 3.7.
The transcripts of the tape recordings, recorded by the State’s “confidential informant” described on page 4 of the State’s Motion to Disqualify Defense Counsel
The person of Ivon Johnson, who is the “confidential informant” referenced in the State’s Motion to Disqualify Defense Counsel; and
The person of Christopher Butler, who alleges that he has been threatened in order to induce false testimony.
Mr. Smith then provides his reasons for submitting the motion:
The Mississippi Attorney General seeks to disqualify Attorney Jim Waide from representing Robert Smith on the grounds of Waide’s knowledge concerning Smith’s attempting to obtain Waide to represent Christopher Butler. The State’s Motion to Disqualify Defense Counsel is supported by a conversation which Ivon Johnson secretly recorded.....
The D.A. also alleges that the A.G.'s prosecutors tried to intimidate Butler into providing false testimony:
Besides being relevant on the Motion to Disqualify Defense Counsel, Butler’s testimony is also relevant on the State’s Motion to Stay Proceedings. Specifically, Butler alleges he has been threatened to give false statements against Smith. See letter written by Butler, Exhibit “A.” If such threats have occurred, there may be continuing pressure on Butler to testify falsely. In the face of such pressure to give false testimony, a stay is not appropriate....
Mr. Butler no longer resides at the Hinds County jail but Mr. Smith is attempting to find out where he is:
Butler was housed at the Rankin County Jail. Nevertheless, public records indicate that Butler has been transferred to an “unknown agency.” See Current Status Report of Christopher Butler, Exhibit “B.”...
Mr. Smith asks the court to dismiss all charges if prosecutors can not produce Butler and Johnson at the hearing scheduled for tomorrow.