Hinds County Circuit Judge Jeff Weill had enough and fired back at Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith. Judge Weill accused the District Attorney of lying, attacking his court through the media, and using the sealing of the files to his advantage in a statement filed with the Mississippi Supreme Court. The statement also revealed that an unnamed person has been indicted and an employee of the District Attorney has a child and relationship with a "former client" of the District Attorney. Punches were not held nor did the dirt remain undished.
The D.A. asked the Mississippi Supreme Court to transfer the Cause #16-120 from Judge Weill to Special Judge Larry Roberts. JJ would love to actually publish the name of the case or tell the readers who the defendant is but the case was sealed by Judge Tomie Green. Judge Weill received the case through a random assignment*.
Mr. Smith argued that the sealing of the case prevented him from obtaining evidence that could clear him in his own defense. A grand jury indicted Mr. Smith last week for three counts of conspiracy to hinder prosecutions. His motion said Judge Weill could not hear the case since he had filed a bar complaint against the District Attorney.
However, Judge Weill had a few things to say and filed a statement in response to Mr. Smith's motion to transfer the case. Judge Weill said he had "absolutely no objection to unsealing" the file and transcript but also said:
Circuit Court No. 251-16-120 is a sealed case which was randomly assigned to the docket of the undersigned judge. Judge Jeff Weill, Sr., on February 27, 2016. When it was assigned to the undersigned, the case file had already been placed under seal by Senior Circuit Judge Tomie Green by way of an Order signed on February 19, 2016. Judge Green prudently ordered the file to be sealed, as the initial filing was a motion by the Office of the Attorney General to present certain individuals for investigation to the Hinds County Grand Jury, due to an alleged conflict of interest of the Hinds County District Attorney. All grand jury issues are required to be sealed and confidential per URCCC 7.04. Mr. Smith was a party to the sealed case file and a recipient of all sealed filings, but he has continuously failed to include relevant detail in his numerous motions urging the seal to be lifted. Further. Mr. Smith has made blatant public misrepresentations about the nature of these sealed proceedings in his public statements to the media.Judge Weill then called the D.A.'s bluff and said "you want to unseal these files, let's unseal them and put it all out there for the world to see". The jurist stated:
The proceedings in 251-16-120 arguably relate to the original misdemeanor charges against Smith. However, those were dismissed, and a three (3) count indictment was issued against Smith on September 7, 2016, related only to Smith's alleged conduct with Christopher Butler, a criminal defendant who Smith was prosecuting until he recently agreed to disqualify himself. Even as recently as September 8, 2016, one day following the indictment focused only on Butler, The Clarion Ledger reported as follows: "Smith believes sealed court procedures, including a hearing containing testimony of an FBI agent, could be favorable toward his case." The very next sentence quoted Smith: "'There's a reason why ... they've resisted the release of the hearing, while knowing what it contains,' he said." Jimmy E. Gates, Mollie Bryant, Hinds County district attorney and Assistant DA Indicted, THF CLARION LEDGFR, September 8, 2016. Given that Smith knows what the transcript contains, but he continues to misrepresent the content, including an ongoing mischaracterization of the sworn testimony of an FBI agent, this court is of the opinion that the interests of justice may in fact favor lifting the seal. Despite being in attendance at the hearing, and after even being provided with a copy of Special Agent Culpepper's testimony, Smith continues to publicly and misleadingly infer that the circuit court is intentionally hiding court transcripts which would exculpate him. Smith's ongoing attempt to malign the circuit court, simply because it furthers his own personal interests, should not be permitted...
The case in question apparently involves someone who has been indicted but not yet been served:
Second, the proceedings in 251-16-120 concern a motion seeking to prosecute two individuals based on an alleged conflict of Smith. One Defendant had already been indicted, but the indictment remains unserved. The hearing primarily involved the second individual, who is undisputedly a former client of Smith's and the father of two children of an employee on Smith's office staff. During the hearing, Smith conceded that he had an ethical conflict that would preclude him from prosecuting his former client, and he announced that he had no objection to another prosecuting agency proceeding, since he would recuse given their prior attorney client relationship. Accordingly, Smith should not be entitled to have any further involvement in a matter in which he admits he is ethically prohibited from all participation. This is even more significant, given the direct familial relationship between Smith's employee and his former client, who had been arrested and charged with violent criminal conduct....
Judge Weill said the case has no relation to "any of the charges" in Mr. Smith's indictment. He reiterated that the District Attorney has received every single sealed document in this case.
Finally, it is important to recognize that Smith was a party to each and every filing and proceeding in 251-16-120. Smith received every sealed document filed in 251-16-120, and he personally attended and participated in the only hearing held in the matter. Despite being a participant in the hearing, Smith and his current counsel (who was not present) misleadingly continue to publicly infer that this trial court is hiding proceedings which could exonerate Smith. This public pandering should not be permitted, in view of URCCC 9.01, which prohibits pre-trial publicity. Even if Smith's public comments were permissible by the pre-trial publicity rules, they are prohibited by the rules of professional conduct, because they are misleading and intended to malign this court without any basis....
The motion should've just said "bring it on" because that is in effect what the conclusion said:
In fact, the unsealing would put an end to Smith's ongoing public misrepresentations concerning the nature and relevance of these proceedings to his criminal prosecution, which would benefit the Hinds County Circuit Court. The continuous misrepresentations by Smith continue to mar our criminal justice system as the circuit court judges attempt to conduct regular court business in the wake of the criminal charges against the county's top prosecutor.Cranberries, mashed potatoes, and gravy, you can't make this up. As the District Attorney said earlier this week, stay tuned.
Kingfish note: Gentlemen, I think war has been declared. Several facts to be gleaned from this statement:
1. The D.A. apparently received everything filed in this case. One must ask why he is asking the Supreme Court to unseal a case so he can see what is in the file when in fact, he already has the file.
2. Someone has been indicted but we don't know who it is because he or she has not yet been served. Let the puckering begin.
3. A criminal defendant apparently has a relationship and kids with someone who works for Mr. Smith. What exactly is that all about?
*Readers will remember that Judge Weill and Judge Green fought over the use of the random assignment method. Judge Green wanted to curtail its use so she could personally assign cases while Judge Weill defended the random assignment method. The fight went to the Mississippi Supreme Court. Judge Weill won.