Uncle Toms, N*****s, drugs, $100,000, and witness protection screens. Gang-banger's trial? Nope. These features were the order of the day yesterday in the trial of Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith. The D.A. is fighting a three-count indictment that accuses him of illegally helping criminal defendants. Yesterday saw the testimony of Mr. Smith's attorney, Jim Waide, Christopher Butler's girlfriend, two MBN agents, and Assistant Attorney General Patrick Beasley.
The Clarion-Ledger's Anna Wolfe and Jackson Free Press's Timothy Summers have provided the bulk of the coverage since the first day and yesterday was no exception. Their live tweets from the courtroom report the courtroom events as they happen. Ms. Wolfe reported this morning:
Day five of the criminal trial against Hinds County's lead prosecutor felt more like a routine drug proceeding than it did a trial on obstruction of justice. That's because most witnesses who took the stand Tuesday came to testify about the circumstances of the drug charges against Christopher Butler....
The 2011 raid has been a focus of Smith's case, but Butler also faces drug charges from a separate event that took place a year later. Dear told the story of Butler's second drug charge, which began when agents conducted a traffic stop on Butler in April 2012 and found a large amount of marijuana and cocaine in his vehicle. Dear said he believed Butler was on the phone with his attorney when they pulled him over....
Those are still not all the crimes Butler is accused of committing. In 2016, the attorney general's office arrested Butler on charges of embezzlement and mail fraud stemming from his work at Mega Mattress, where prosecutors allege he defrauded a Florida-based financing company.
The attorney general's office argues it has jurisdiction to prosecute such white collar crimes under Mississippi Code 7-5-59. Smith maintains it doesn't have the authority to do so based on the court case Harvey v. Williams, in which the state Supreme Court ruled the attorney general could not prosecute a case dismissed by the district attorney. But in Williams, the case in question originated in the district attorney's office, whereas the fraud case against Butler originated with the attorney general.
At a preliminary hearing in that case, Smith showed up before Priester and created such a scene, those in attendance say, the judge had to reschedule the hearing. Prosecutors argue Smith had no businesses attending the hearing in the first place.
While he's accused of hindering Butler's prosecution in the drug charges against him, Smith's attempts to derail the attorney general's white collar crime case against Butler proves more puzzling. Is it a coincidence that Smith's legal opinion in the two cases contradicting that of prosecutors happens to benefit Butler?...
The state suggests Smith conspired to hinder Butler's prosecution by trying to indict two assistant attorneys general and Hinds County Circuit Judge Jeff Weill.
Heated testimony from Assistant Attorney General Patrick Beasley, a central figure in this case, did little to shine any new light on Smith's charges, but did demonstrate a possible power struggle between the offices.
In November 2015, the attorney general's office made an announcement that it had arrested an inmate on false pretense charges connected to a prison scam in which the man impersonated officials, promising the family members of other inmates that he could get criminal charges dropped in exchange for cash.
The same day, Smith texted Beasley at 10 p.m.: "Good shot traitor. So you're the new anointed Uncle Tom?" "What the f*** are you talking about?" Beasley responded, proceeding to call Smith the n-word.... Rest of long article.
Readers can also follow Ms. Wolfe's blow by blow report on Twitter if one wants to see the drama as it unfolded live yesterday. Follow Mr. Summer's courtroom tweets as well. Mr. Summers posted this report last night.
Day six should provide more of the same. Will the D.A. take the stand? Will we see Christopher Butler? Stay tuned.