Monday, September 12, 2016

Judge accuses DA of making threats, WJTV refuses to broadcast confrontation

Will sealed records involving Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith finally see the light of day today?  Special Judge Larry Robert will hold a hearing at 1:00 PM today in the Hinds County courthouse to on several motions filed by the Clarion-Ledger to open files, transcripts, and other sealed records.


Jeff Amy reported for the AP today:

The American justice system requires trials to be open to the public. But so far, secrecy shrouds the legal maneuvering that could lead to a criminal trial where the defendant is the top prosecutor in Mississippi’s largest county. Citizens can’t understand the full story of the problems because at least five cases regarding Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith are under seal....
 The Clarion-Ledger has sued to have the cases opened, saying those who closed the files didn’t give notice, hold a public hearing, explain why the filed were closed or consider alternatives. All those are required under past Supreme Court decisions.
 Waide has also filed motions to open parts of cases, saying Smith believes the files and transcripts have evidence that would exonerate him. Rest of article.
 The cases are State v. Christopher Butler (2 cases), State v. Donald Turner, State v. Robert Shuler Smith, and Administrative Orders for Judge Jeff Weill's court.   Mr. Smith filed a motion Friday to unseal case #25ci1:16-cv-00220. JJ would love to tell you about this case but it is under seal.  No hearing was held on the sealing of the case as required by Gannett v. Hand.  That Mississippi Supreme Court opinion requires the court to hold a hearing on sealing a case after providing a 24-hour notice of the intent to hold such a hearing.



However, Mr. Smith attached a letter from Judge Weill to the Mississippi Bar to his motion.  The letter is a bar complaint filed against Mr. Smith (It is loosely called a bar complaint.  It is rather a notice of alleged improper behavior to the Mississippi Bar.).  The letter (p.10) states:

Pursuant to our phone conversation a few weeks ago, enclosed please find supporting documentation concerning violations of Mississippi law and the Mississippi Rules of Professional Conduct by Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith. Pursuant to Miss. · Code Ann. §97-11-3, a district attorney who "shall, in any manner, consult, advise, counsel, or defend, within this state, a person charged with a crime or misdemeanor or the breach of a penal statute, he shall, on conviction, be fined in a sum not exceeding five hundred dollars, be removed from office, and rendered incapable thereafter of filling any office of profit or honor in this state." Id. One of Mr. Smith's former clients from his private practice, Donald Turner, was recently indicted by the Mississippi Office of the Attorney General. During a sealed hearing, Smith admitted to a conflict of interest and stated no objection to the case being investigated by the Attorney General. Thereafter, the Hinds County Grand Jury returned two separate indictments against Turner, which remain pending as Hinds County cause numbers 16-0-238 and 16-0-239. Recently, on June 10, 2016, Turner's counsel, Mr. Dennis Sweet, filed two motions on Turner's behalf, which attached confidential e-mails regarding issues of grand jury secrecy, which were printed from Mr. Smith's county email account, as is evident from the header of the e-mails, a clear violation of Miss. Code Ann.§ 97~11-3. The motions and exhibits are attached hereto as "Exhibit A."

In another matter, on May 11, 2016, Mr. Smith appeared in my chambers area at the courthouse, where access is restricted to my staff members and the staff of Judge Winston Kidd. Mr. Smith was not authorized to be in the restricted area, and after my clerk answered a loud banging on her door, she opened the door to Mr. Smith, several DA staff members, an armed DA investigator, and a WJTV news crew. He was seeking the immediate return the cell phone of his administrative assistant which was taken up earlier that day by my bailiff after it rang during the closing argument of a capital murder trial. Mr. Smith was instructed to leave the area several times by my clerk, and then by me, but he continued to refuse. W JTV did not air the footage of the incident and declined to provide a copy upon request. However, they agreed to preserve the footage, and I urge you to request the same to aid your investigation.
Subsequently on May 1 1, 2016, Mr. Smith sent two threatening text messages to my personal cell phone regarding the actions taken by my bailiff earlier that day. Copies of those text messages  are attached hereto  as "Exhibit B."...


 Thus it appears a third judge has filed a bar complaint against the District Attorney.  The hearing should be rather interesting today.  Stay tuned.

Kingfish note: WJTV committed journalistic malpractice.  WJTV had a decent story and spiked it? The question is why did WJTV spike the story.  Better yet, is this an example of why WJTV never wins the ratings? Can one imagine WLBT or WAPT spiking this story or not broadcasting the footage?

Prediction. JJ predicts Judge Roberts will order several cases and documents to be unsealed today.  However, it will not be surprising if he rules the entire "investigation and report" by Special Master Amy Whitten is allowed to remain under seal.  The public records laws exempts investigative reports.  Judge Roberts will likely rule Judge Whitten's report falls under this exemption.  

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

When does Dennis go down too?

Anonymous said...

This is getting better than a Law&Order episode and a John Grisham novel!!!

Anonymous said...

This is pathetic. Lawyers converse with the judiciary through Motions. Lawyers do not barge into a judges chambers, media there at the lawyers behest, along with armed employees and make demands upon the judge. If this is true, RSS needs medical intervention.

Anonymous said...

Smith needs intervention all right but it ain't medical in nature. That's just mho.

Anonymous said...

I have known RSS for a good many years. I don't know the cause or a diagnosis, but its obvious to people close to him that he is not stable mentally. I know some rumors are drugs, but that is just a rumor. Whatever the cause, the man needs help and I don't think he's getting any from his attorney or family. This will not end good.

BTW, do the employees of the DA office, including ADAs, realize that when RSS leaves office, they are automatically unemployed? Some apparently do, because several have left in the last year or so...

Anonymous said...

I too have known Robert for a good number of years; probably close to twenty. He has never impressed me as being intelligent but who am I to say? I however, have never been of the opinion that he was mentally unstable until much more recently.

Anonymous said...

"The Clarion-Ledger has sued to have the cases opened, saying those who closed the files didn’t give notice, hold a public hearing, explain why the filed were closed or consider alternatives. All those are required under past Supreme Court decisions."

I would like to see those cases (and to know which Supreme Court he's talking about).

The Miss. Supreme Court lets an appeal be under seal because some guy writes "under seal" on the cover page of the initial pleading.

Anonymous said...

Where are the two RSS emails to Weill referred to as Exhibits?

Accomplice?.. said...

What about the stellar, assistant D.A. for Hinds named McBride (who lives in Madison) who has not and would never do wrong? Where is he in this most recent shit-storm? Will he claim some sort of immunity under the Americans With Disabilities Act since he was offering counsel, guidance and protection to his employer who was suffering from an ADA-covered disability?

Hold on now for incoming from seven people who will claim he is pristine and beyond reproach and never in his life cut a fart.

Anonymous said...

Sweet isn't going to do anything illegal. He doesn't have to ...

Anonymous said...

WJTV's news department has lagged far behind the other local stations (not that they are all that good) for many years. I would watch their news on weekends while Malory Pullen was there, but she saw the writing on the wall and fled to Florida after only a few months there. That they refused to air this "news" indicates to me that they are beholding to someone. Could it be RSS? Funny that they were the only media invited to the crashing of the party.

Anonymous said...

@7:52. Great logic. That's what was said about Duckies Scruggs - how'D that turnout?

Anonymous said...

Kingfish, where are the "threatening text messages" that RSS sent to Weill, the ones that Weill supposedly attached to his June 16 letter to Adam Kilgore at the Miss. Bar? Sounds like smoking-gun material that would condemn RSS. We'd love to actually see them.

Kingfish said...

That letter was made public by RSS, not the Bar or Judge Weill. I don't think you can get a copy of a bar complaint.

Evan Womack said...

So RSS omitted them. Interesting.

Anonymous said...

8:48 - Malary Pullen is still anchoring the weekend there. You must be thinking of the previous weekend anchor.

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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.

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