Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Does the Williams case handcuff the A.G.? We report, you decide.

Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith repeatedly refers to the Harvey Williams v. State of Mississippi (2014) case as he battles Attorney General Jim Hood.   Mr. Smith claims the case prevents the Attorney General from prosecuting a case in Hinds County without the consent of the District Attorney and waves it as a flaming sword whenever the subject of Christopher Butler arises.  However, what exactly is the holding of Williams? JJ decided to present the case and let the good readers decide for themselves.

The Attorney General investigated and prosecuted Butler for consumer fraud.  It is alleged that Butler defrauded a finance company while working at a furniture store in West Jackson by creating bogus transactions.  The finance company allegedly financed furniture sales but the furniture was never actually purchased by the customer.  Butler was arrested and a preliminary held on March 3.  However, the District Attorney barged into the hearing and told County Court Judge Melvin Priester, Sr. that the A.G. had no legal authority to prosecute the case without Smith's consent.  The D.A. said

BY MR. SMITH: Well, first all, I do agree with counsel. The AG's Office is well aware of Harvey Williams v. State. That was a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court that clarified existing law that says they cannot prosecute cases in Hinds County at their discretion.  I was actually one of the respondents in that matter.

Harvey Williams was indicted for the shooting death of a man outside of a Jackson nightclub in 2003.  He was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison in 2007.  However, Williams won a reversal of his conviction on appeal to the Mississippi Supreme Court.  The Court remanded the case back to the trial court for a new hearing in 2010.

The District Attorney filed a motion to dismiss the case in 2011.  Special Circuit Judge Breland Hilburn accepted the dismissal but reversed himself two days later and attempted to reinstate the indictment.  Judge Hilburn recused the District Attorney from prosecuting the case in 2012 and reassigned it to the original prosecutors who now worked for the Attorney General.  Williams filed a motion to dismiss.  The case was assigned to Circuit Judge Jeff Weill.  Judge Weill held a hearing in October 2012.  Special Assistant Attorney General Marvin Sanders* prosecuted the case.

Judge Weill said the case was over when the D.A. dropped the case but the A.G. should be appointed to prosecute the case since the D.A. "did not intend to prosecute Williams."  Williams appealed to the Supreme Court.  The Supreme Court stopped all proceedings and delved into the case.

Nutshell version: The case was dismissed by the D.A. but the judge wants to re-fire the prosecution. The key issue is whether the court has the authority to remove a prosecutor and replace him with one from another agency.

The court said there was no law that authorized a judge to take a case away from a District Attorney and give it to the Attorney General for prosecution. There was no constitutional provision or case law that gave cover to what Judge Weill tried to do.  The opinion, and this is probably where Mr. Smith hangs his hat, states

But neither Mississippi’s Constitution—silent with regard to the powers or duties of the attorney general—nor the common law authorizes the attorney general to usurp or encroach upon the constitutional or the statutory power of the local district attorney in a criminal case where the attorney general’s assistance is not requested by the district attorney, and is in fact opposed by the district attorney...

This  Court has clarified: “A district attorney has no authority to represent the state in litigation outside counties of their district, or to represent the state in litigation in their district where the subject matter is of statewide interest, as distinguished from local interest.” Id. (citations omitted). We find no reason, or evidence in the record, why Williams’s murder prosecution could be considered by the attorney general to be any more a matter of statewide interest, as distinguished from local interest, than any other murder  case....<  Intervention of the attorney general into the independent discretion  of a local district attorney regarding whether or not to prosecute a criminal case constitutes an impermissible diminution of the statutory power of the district attorney See Miss. Code Ann.§ 25-31-11(1) (Rev. 2010) (“It shall be the duty of the district attorney to represent the state in all matters coming before the grand juries of the counties within his district and to appear in the circuit courts and prosecute for the state in his district all criminal prosecutions  and all civil cases in which the state or any county within his district may be interested . . . .”))

 The Court made clear what it thought of Judge Weill's actions as it wrapped up the holding:

Neither Mississippi’s Constitution nor its common law permits the involuntarily disqualification of a duly elected district attorney from the lawful performance of his duty and the substitution of the attorney general in the district attorney’s place and stead in a case in which no legal grounds for the district attorney’s disqualification  exists...

However, the Mississippi Code empowers the Attorney General to investigate and prosecute fraud and white collar crime.  Section 75-5-59 states:

§ 7-5-59 - Investigation of official corruption, other white collar crimes, and computer crimes

(1) The following terms shall have the meanings ascribed to them herein unless the context requires otherwise:

(b) "White-collar crime and official corruption" includes crimes chargeable under the following provisions of law:

(iii) Section 97-19-73, which relates to fraud by mail, wire, radio or television....

 (c) "White-collar crime investigations" means an investigation into any illegal act or acts defined as white-collar crime...

 (2) The Attorney General is hereby authorized to conduct official corruption investigations and such other white-collar crime investigations and computer crime investigations that are of statewide interest or which are in the protection of public rights....
The statute also gives the Attorney General subpoena power and the ability to call a grand jury to indict in  white collar crime prosecutions.  The Attorney General investigated and initiated the prosecution of Christopher Butler for fraud and various white collar crimes.  The District Attorney initiated the prosecution in Williams.

It remains to be seen which side's interpretation prevails in court.  The D.A. argues the Attorney General can not prosecute any case in Hinds County (save public corruption) while the Attorney General claims the Mississippi Code gives him the authority to prosecute fraud cases in any county.  This particular legal issue will undoubtedly arise again in the war between the Attorney General and the Hinds County District Attorney. 

*Yes, he is one of the attorneys prosecuting Robert Shuler Smith.


Anonymous said...

That's a lot of reading but I think it comes down to this......DA is technicality not a county employee. He works for the state but is elected county-wide. Therefore it is logical that the AG has ultimate authority over such decisions.

Anonymous said...

The crime under which Butler was prosecuted, is specifically set forth as an exception as a "white collar crime" which may be Constitutionally and by Statute investigated and tried by the AG. Most of the cases which I prosecuted were under those Code Sections during my employment with that division.

Anonymous said...

the DA is an elected official. he is neither a county or state employee. Hood has shit his pants at the request of some vengeful former adas of Smith; but Smith is an idiot as well. It will be a not guilty verdict and the chaos will continue.

Anonymous said...

The larger issue is RSS not allowing proof to be developed.

If RSS has a position, he should file papers and ask the MSCT to stay proceedings.

Interjecting at the trial level as he bizarre.

Anonymous said...

Not guilty = Hinds County

Anonymous said...

Retaliation = Not Guilty

Anonymous said...

RSS has no proof to develop...sooo....

Anonymous said...

I think the AG's Office hancuffs the AG's Office. Whoever designed this prosecution plan is an idiot. Call the guy who's reputation you destroyed and expect it not to blow up in your face. When does the State's case end? If the judge is bored, the jury is bored. I think he said some variation of "wrap this up" 50 times

Anonymous said...

The state has as much of a chance as Trump has dismantling NAFTA, I don't know which is the bigger joke.

Anonymous said...

Big question is why utilize this white collar prosecution authority in Butler's case? At the end of the day, it's a, all things considered, penny ante scheme. There are plenty of big white collar cases that the AGs won't get near. Any real white collar crime is turned over the the US Attorneys office. This is another example of what appears to be a huge pissing match between two sets of utterly inept prosecutors.

Anonymous said...

At this point, what difference does it make?

Anonymous said...

The losers are crime victims in Hinds County.

RSS pissed every judge off.....and now represents as his "clients" all criminal defendants.

There is nobody representing the taxpayers of Jackson.

Get your guns people.

Anonymous said...

@ 10:17 PM
No difference at all unless it matters not that the DA is a criminal using the office of the people of the State of Mississippi to carry on his criminal activity.

Anonymous said...

If this isn't a case about public corruption, then what is?
But, we've lost any concept of basic principles.
I suspect RSS is trying to make the black members of the jury think he is a victim in the unending criticism of Jackson and Hinds County.
If this tactic succeeds, it will be because too many Mississippians have engaged in a stream of nasty comments and personal attacks rather than limiting their remarks to constructive criticisms of specific actions or offering realistic solutions.
If you want to make America Great Again, you might want to remember why it was great. We once offered the world a better way of solving the problems that plagued mankind. We had ideals that we could defend and argue in a manner that brought forth solutions. Honor mattered. Truth mattered.
Now we've turn politics into no more than a pissing contest and all that gets you is a foul odor that gets worse each day.

Anonymous said...


Tough question!!!

Anonymous said...

6:52 AM


But these things have a way of solving themselves.

Anonymous said...

How about Robert "Too Sweet" Henderson's testimony today. Dirty DA

2016 Hottest Reporter Poll

Suscribe to latest on JJ.

Recent Comments

Search Jackson Jambalaya

Subscribe to JJ's Youtube channel

Who is the hottest reporter?


Who is the Hottest Reporter in Jackson?

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).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

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.

Note: Security provided by INS.

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.

Note: Security provided by INS