Thursday, September 29, 2016

D.A. tried to throw two prosecutors in jail for allegedly leaking transcript to JJ

Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith tried to throw two Attorney General prosecutors in jail after this website published a transcript of the March 3 preliminary hearing that was held for Christopher Butler.*  The District Attorney accused Assistant Attorneys General Patrick Beasley and Shaun Yurtkuran of leaking the transcript of a sealed proceeding to JJ in his motion for contempt.  There are just two problems: The preliminary hearing was never sealed and this correspondent purchased the transcript from the court reporter. 
 The motion states:

1.   That on or about December 30,2015, the State of Mississippi filed a Motion to recuse and to disqualify the presiding judge, Jeff Weill on the matter of State versus Christopher Butler. Further that the District Attorney of Hinds County issued grand jury subpoenas on several matters entitled "In Re: Investigations," which includes the Butler case; (KF: Cause no. 12-0-831)
2. That Judge Jeff Weill,the presiding judge in Butler. sealed said files, sua sponte, in part, due to a grand jury subpoena that was issued on several officials (and at one time the Judge Weill was under subpoena. Also see attached order as Exhibit "A");

3. That Judge Weill cautioned on the record, while taking the matter of recusal under advisement, the importance of grand jury secrecy regarding the Christopher Butler matter and all matters in the above-referenced entitled "In Re: Investigation;
The motion so far is discussing the indictment against Christopher Butler for  possessing more than one kilo of marijuana that is prosecuted by the District Attorney.  The D.A. tried to drop the case against Mr. Butler but Judge Weill refused to allow him to do so.  Mr. Smith issued grand jury subpoenas to the two prosecutors in January and later claimed they were evading the two subpoenas.  The D.A. then jumped over to a different case with no explanation.  The motion continues: 

4. That several officials, specifically Patrick Beasley and Shaun Yurtkuran who practice law in the State of Mississippi are bound by grand jury secrecy, especially after having been served subpoenas on the Christopher  Butler matter as well as other matters;

5. That yet, after the Court has made it clear that Grand Jury secrecy is not to be breached, the attorneys from the Mississippi Attorney General's office not only evaded service of process (see Attachment as Exhibit 11811 ), but also knowingly, willingly, intentionally and with malicious intent, did publish and provide details a transcript of Christopher Butler to the owner of the gossip website while knowing that this matter was under seal (see Attachment as Exhibit "C", transcript of Christopher Butler, which also provides evidence of evading service of process and maliciously targeting and charging Christopher Butler with a subsequent crime to obstruct justice while knowing that a subject matter of In Re: investigation is includes Butler);  (Cause no. 16-50 AG)
Different case, different offense, different prosecutors, different judge. None of the hearings or documents in the consumer fraud case were sealed.  However, the Lord Protector of Hinds County was just getting started.  He also accuses the two Assistant Attorneys General of illegally providing the transcript to this correspondent.  That issue will be covered later in this post.  The motion continues: 

6.   That this conduct by the Assistant Attorneys General is a blatant disregard for the rules and they in fact made a mockery out of serious investigations taking place in the Hinds County grand jury;

7. That these attorneys should be held in contempt and jailed for 6 months due to their contemptuous behavior and reckless disregard for the rules cited in U.C.C.R 7.04;
Thus the motion begins with stating a drug case,  Cause no. 12-0-831, prosecuted by the District Attorney and switches over to a preliminary hearing in a consumer fraud case, Cause no. 16-50 AG, that is prosecuted by the Attorney General without tying the two cases together.  Disjointed to say the least.

 Judge Priester held a preliminary hearing in the consumer fraud case for Christopher Butler on March 3.  JJ reported the hearing on March 17 and published a copy of the transcript (Earlier post):

Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith clashed with the Mississippi Attorney General in Judge Melvin Priester's courtroom two weeks ago over convicted drug dealer Christopher Butler. The AG is prosecuting Butler for alleged consumer fraud. However, Mr. Smith showed up unannounced and unexpected at a preliminary hearing and tried to take control of the case. It was a rather colorful hearing as Judge Priester allowed Mr. Smith to have his say and then shut him down. The District Attorney also announced that he had subpoenaed the AG's prosecutors before a grand jury over the case as well and accused Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics agents of  doctoring videotapes and trying to frame Butler in a separate case.  Mr. Smith even argued that the Attorney General can not prosecute a case for anything in Hinds County without his consent. Judge Priester postponed the preliminary hearing until today "Because of the raucous and unprofessional behavior by Mr. Smith, District Attorney.."

The Attorney General's Consumer Fraud Division is prosecuting Butler for alleged consumer fraud involving a West Jackson furniture store and Florida finance company. He was arrested for several charges of mail fraud and false pretenses. The division initiated and conducted the investigation and prosecution (this fact is important). The state's affidavit alleges Butler obtained "signed documentation from Justin Marquise Runnels at Mega Mattress Furniture Outlet in order to send a fraudulent invoice to Uown in order to obtain funds in excess of $500 obtained from Uown." Butler was arrested and a preliminary hearing was scheduled for March 3. Butler is represented by the Honorable Sanford Knott, attorney at law.

Enter the District Attorney. The District Attorney appeared in court when the hearing began.  Before this story goes any further, it is necessary to remind the readers of Mr. Smith's involvement with Mr. Butler.   Butler was indicted twice in 2012 for possessing more than  one kilo of marijuana.  The two cases are assigned to Judge Jeff Weill.  Smith tried to dismiss the case last year but Judge Weill denied the requests to dismiss.  Judge Weill told the District Attorney to submit motions to nolle prosequi in writing and provide grounds for dismissing the two cases, as Mr. Smith had made his requests orally.  The District Attorney then filed a motion to recuse, but Judge Weill denied the motion and continues to hear the two cases.  Earlier post with partial copy of court file.  Butler has a previous conviction for selling cocaine.  
However, Judge Priester never sealed the case nor issued a protective order. Here is the docket:

Click on image to enlarge

One must also ask why the District Attorney didn't serve the two Assistant Attorneys General with his grand jury subpoenas while they were in front of him in the courtroom.  Judge Tomie Green dismissed this motion on April 4 and minced no words in doing so (Her dismissal is posted below in the embedded documents):

Likewise, the  Court finds that there  are no issues ,or credible  evidence to be  resolved herein concerning Christopher Butler's preliminary hearing conducted by Hinds County Judge  Melvin Priester.   The Attorney  General's  Office attempted to provide  Judge  Priester with proof for the determination  of probable cause  regarding entirely  "new"  charges  being prosecuted by the Attorney  General's  Office. The intervention by the District Attorney, Robert Shuler Smith, at the prel,minary hearing is rare and unusual.  Any  matters on behalf of Christopher  Butler at the preliminary  hearing  must properly be advanced by Butler's defense attorney and not the District Attorney. The District Attorney has not shown any nexus or proof to indicate violation of this Court's February 9, 2016  order. Nor is there any evidence to suggest a breach of the secrecy of the grand jury proceedings.
 The District Attorney did not appeal the dismissal. 

Kingfish note: The motion repeatedly refers to the Christopher Butler case that is currently before Judge Weill. This website published a transcript from a different case that was before County Court Judge Melvin Priester, Sr. However, facts apparently meant nothing in this motion.  What was important was throwing two prosecutors in jail for six months.  

The March 3 preliminary hearing for Christopher Butler was never sealed.  There is no protective order in the docket.  Judge Priester never sealed the case.   It was an open preliminary hearing.  Standard procedure was followed by the court in conducting the hearing.  

The accusation that the two prosecutors provided a transcript of the hearing is simply not true at all for one simple reason: JJ bought a copy of the transcript from the court reporter!!!  JJ has a copy of the cancelled check and receipt to prove it.  Check out the receipt for yourself:

If the District Attorney had bothered to do his job properly and perform some due diligence, he would have discovered that this website purchased the transcript from the court reporter.  All he had to do was ask the court reporter if she had sold any copies of the transcript but such efforts are trivial when one mistakes persecuting for prosecuting.  Does the word Nifong ring a bell? 

The prosecutor has an ethical duty to file honest pleadings in court.  The words "due diligence" come to mind. This attempt to throw two prosecutors in jail without attempting to conduct even a nominal investigation is part of a disturbing pattern shown by the District Attorney.  Mr. Smith tried to throw Chief Deputy Chris Picou and Othor Cain in jail after a list of grand jury "no bills" was given to the media two years ago.  The "no bill" lists are public records and published after each grand jury term in the Circuit Clerk's office. Earlier post about contempt motion filed against HCSO employees.  Mr. Smith later withdrew the motion. 

This correspondent and this website did not obtain the transcript through leaks, anonymous emails, or any other means of covert delivery of the transcript.  The court reporter was contacted and asked if a transcript could be purchased.  This correspondent personally met Miss Sims and purchased the transcript from her.  Any allegations made by the District Attorney that the transcript was obtained through other means is simply not true.   

*This motion is part of Cause no. 16-26.  A dispute arose over several grand jury subpoenas issued by the District Attorney.  Judge Green sealed the case and appointed Amy Whitten as a special master to preside over the dispute.  JJ will cover the actual case within a few days.  This post is about the motion for contempt. 

Note: Mr. Yurtkuran is no longer associated with the Attorney General's office.


Anonymous said...

Good ol' deep shoe leather enterprise reporting. That's why JJ is #1.

Anonymous said...

"due diligence"
"nominal investigation"

Woah now, you are asking and expecting just a bit too much.

Anonymous said...

"due diligence"
"nominal investigation"

Not nearly as many opportunities for campaign contributions and political pandering if you are a politician wasting time doing the shoe leather type stuff.

Anonymous said...

Beasley and Yurtkuran should sue him for defamation.

Kingfish said...

or malicious prosecution.

Anonymous said...

All this to say what?

Anonymous said...

Won't believe the receipt until I see the long-form version.

Anonymous said...

6:20....all this is to say that the DA is either abusing the system for vindictiveness or incompetent and doesn't know what he's doing.
The DA either (1) intentionally (and unethically) mislead the court by saying the two AGs disclosed a sealed transcript when in fact that proceeding and that transcript were not sealed, in a vindictive attempt to attempt to abuse the system and throw to guys in jail for something they didn't do, or (2) he didn't realize that the transcript was from one case when he was complaining about another case, in which case he's stupid and not competent to do his job.

Anonymous said...

RSS is either high as shit or bipolar. Either way he needs treatment. He's also completely unethical and for that he needs to be disbarred.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

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Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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