Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Nothing stood in his way of getting rid of that case about Christopher Butler

A former Hinds County prosecutor claimed that Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith fired her because she wanted to prosecute Christopher Butler.  Mr. Smith was indicted by a grand jury in September for hindering the criminal prosecution of Mr. Butler.  Former Hinds County District attorney Gale Walker testified as a rebuttal witness for the prosecution today.

Mr. Smith's attorney, Jim Waide, objected to her testimony.  He argued that she should have been included in the main case by the prosecution instead of used a a rebuttal witness that left him with little time to prepare a defense.  However, Judge Larry Roberts overruled the objection and allowed her to take the stand. 

Ms. Walker worked as an ADA for Mr. Smith from August 2012 until her firing in January 2014.  She testified that she was responsible for  prosecuting the Christopher Butler case. Mr. Butler is a twice-convicted drug dealer who was indicted twice in 2012 on drug charges.  The D.A. tried to dismiss the case but Judge Jeff Weill asked him to do so in writing.  Smith refused.  Text messages presented in court showed Mr. Smith attempted to indict Judge Weill to get him off of the case. The D.A. also tried to prevent the A.G. from prosecuting a consumer fraud case against Mr. Butler by interrupting Butler's March 3, 2016 preliminary hearing and arguing that the A.G. had no authority to prosecute its case without his consent.

She said several times that she could win the case with the evidence available to her but the District Attorney made it clear that he did not want to prosecute Mr. Butler.   She testified that the D.A. had never taken such an interest in a case.  She said ADA Armstrong Walters handled the indictment of Butler but he was fired.  ADA Shannon Coglin took the case but the case was later reassigned to her and her partner, Brad Hutto, since they handled cases in Judge Weill's courtroom.  Judge Weill apparently moved the case up to the top of the docket in 2013 since he preferred to clear older cases.  She said he had the busiest courtroom and moved more cases than the other judges.  She said the D.A. told her he wanted to dismiss the case even though she wanted to prosecute.  She repeatedly said that the D.A. pressured her to drop the case and had never shown such an intense interest in the case.  She said she was fired several months after she told him to take the case and prosecute it himself.

Mr. Smith has always claimed that MBN planted drugs at the home where Butler was arrested.  However, Ms. Walker said she never saw any evidence to support the claim.  She also said that Ms. Coglin reviewed the tapes and never saw any evidence as well.  She presented this text message as well:

However, Ms. Walker confessed to a few sins on the witness stand.  She said that she had written seven bad checks between 1996 and 2004 but had paid all fees and penalties.  She once ran behind on her payments for a storage unit and sent a letter on office letterhead that stated the state would pay the money.  Ms. Walker said Mr. Smith told her not to worry when she told him about it. See the JJ Twitter feed for Tuesday's courtroom coverage.

Ms. Walker also sued Mr. Smith for wrongful termination and retaliation.  She is represented by attorney Chuck McRae.  Posted below is her second amended complaint that was filed on October 31, 2016.  It contains her allegations that the D.A. wanted her to drop the Butler case and several other claims about why she was terminated.  However, the case was filed in 2015 in Hinds County Circuit Court.  Ms. Walker represented herself when she filed the original complaint.  The original complaint did not mention anything about the Butler case.   Mr. Smith removed the case to federal court in November 2015.  It is rather ironic that none other than the Attorney General is representing the embattled Robert Shuler Smith in this case. 


Anonymous said...

Lol. Everyone in the courthouse knows she had nothing to do with butler. 1. She was responsible for the bottom
of Weill's docket, L-Z.
2. She is a disgruntled worker. She wrote a letter to a creditor on official letter head. She got in trouble for the same thing working for the holmes county da.
3. The EEOC dismissed her complaint. And the AG is representing RSS on her bogus claim in federal court.

Anonymous said...

Did she amend her Complaint to add Butler after the AG indictment?

Reviewing 1:38.. said...

1:38 wants us to believe that her testimony is not credible because she is disgruntled. Most people who get fired are 'disgruntled'. Her testimony is not tainted simply because she was unhappy about being terminated.

1:38 also reminds us of what we already know - that she wrote a letter to a personal creditor on office stationary. That doesn't invalidate her testimony that Smith did not want Butler prosecuted.

And, finally, 1:38 wants us to believe that the Attorney General reviewed the case and decided to represent Mr. Smith. It's a federal case and it's the job of the A.G. to represent in that situation. It's not as if the A.G. 'embraced' Smith and took the case.

Further, the EEOC does not 'Dismiss' complaints, as is suggested at 1:38. The EEOC is an advisory agency only. They either issue a 'right to sue' letter or they don't....and they give their reasoning for doing one or the other. The agency does not 'gavel down' and 'dismiss' anything. Dismissal means no further action is or can be taken. That is not the case with any EEOC action.

Anybody with half a grain of sense can figure out what 1:38 is up to and whose corner he is in.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the entire legal process and the legal team from the AG down to the DA and the clerks are incompetent.

Anonymous said...

AG is desperate. even the Israelites couldn't make bricks without straw.

Not to say RSS is innocent, but the quality of the proof on this charge is questionable.

Anonymous said...

1:38 and the other DA apologists ask observers to ignore why the DA - any DA - would go to great lengths to interfere with the State's prosecution of Butler for white collar crimes, great lengths including preparing to indict a judge and two assistant AGs when, by the DAs own admission in the texts revealed at trial, he had no legal basis on which to indict those people. And so the million dollar question remains: why in the hell is the DA running roughshod over everyone and everything in sight to free Butler?

Anonymous said...

That would hardly be possible. What's your next conspiracy theory?

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU 4:35 for the clear, cogent illumination of some of the facts related to the RSS matter. Please come back and add your comments and knowledge on this and other JJ posts in the future. I am serious. THANK YOU, for a good read!

Anonymous said...

7:12 --

I practiced criminal law in Mississippi for 10 years. I've never heard -- it's unfathomable -- of a district attorney being so obsessed over dismissing a case against a twice-convicted drug dealer.

The fact that he (a) visited a defendant his office indicted in jail, claiming to be his lawyer; and (b) actually tried to indict a circuit judge and 2 assistant attorneys general in an effort to halt prosecution is telling.

Is it "proof?" No, but it's certainly circumstantial evidence that raises all sorts of red flags. Your characterizing this as a week case ignores much.

And I was around Shuler Smith when he was a defense attorney, around the '04-'05 time frame. Personal observation: the dude was erratic and borderline unbalanced then. Not proof either, but I'm not shocked that he's engaged in this bizarre behavior on behalf of a defendant who's a two-time felon.

Because a district attorney's job is to prosecute criminals. Not, in other words, to indict judges and AAGs in an effort to set criminals free.

Anonymous said...

Were Butler and RSS lovers?

Anonymous said...

There is no question that RSS was determined to undermine the efforts of the AG in regards to Butler. He doesn't deny it. That would be a slam dunk case except for one missing element: MOTIVE. If Columbo were on the case he'd still be looking for the proof before going to a jury with a half ass case. Here, the AG's office starts looking foolish trying to present all kinds of unreliable speculation they hope the jury will buy to explain why RSS did it. Everything is shaky. They even tried wiring their rat and offering the testimony of a known hustler and con man to suggest RSS may have been paid. Real shaky. In the meantime, RSS simply sticks to his MOTIVE which he has maintained from the beginning-That Butler alleged a setup and he sincerely believed it, so he wanted to investigate the culprits. Unless the AG shakes it, RSS walks.

Anonymous said...

Solution; 1) let RSS resign as DA. 2) then he can represent Convict Butler. 3) Have a special election for RSS to get elected again. Problem solved!

Between the DA and the allegations of our horny Sheriff, you can't make this shigity up!

Anonymous said...

RSS's motive should have been excluded as evidence from the get-go. The statute prohibits his aiding a criminal defendant. It says nothing of prohibiting his aiding a criminal defendant unless and until he thinks there is a good reason. His motivation/reasoning is completely irrelevant under the statute and should never have been discussed - the only thing that should have mattered is whether he did or did not aid a criminal defendant. He defense, to the extent he had one to that specific issue, should have been that he didn't aid a defendant. There is a reason we have criminal defense lawyers, and that is to do what the DA is doing for Butler against the charges brought by the AG, and there is a reason we have a statute prohibiting prosecutors from hindering prosecution, and that is to prevent hare brained prosecutors like RSS from runnning around willy nilly and second guessing other prosecutors from other offices.

Anonymous said...

Do you actually have to have the motive for what a person does if they break the law? The law is still the law, motive or just some crazy idea.

Anonymous said...

7:36 is right and asks a question I asked in a previous post on another chain. If RSS wanted to fight the drug charge and dismiss it, that's one thing. But why was RSS also so intent on interfering with and fighting the prosecution of Butler on the totally separate white collar fraud charge(s), and why was RSS so mad when the sheriff/AG raided Butler's jail cell and found contraband ? Why is RSS so intent on fighting ANY and EVERY charge against Butler ? I've yet to hear one explanation of or reason for this from any of the RSS supporters posting here.
In the drug case, when RSS initially moved to dismiss the charge(s), all Judge Weill did was ask RSS to state in writing why the charges should be dismissed. RSS refused to do that, something very simple,and instead chose to try to indict a sitting judge for not doing what he asked, an indictment which he in his own texts admitted he had no basis for whatsoever. Why not just do what the judge asked, state why he wanted the charges dismissed and cite to his belief that the drugs had been planted ? It's very simple. As an attorney, I've had lots of judges disagree with me or rule against me, but I've never filed criminal charges against a judge just because he/she denied my motion or asked me for more information before ruling.

Anonymous said...

9:42 Perhaps you are right about the way the case should have been handled, but the AG's felt they needed to answer the motive question, so they proceeded to try to present bribery as a plausible answer. It's not well developed and relies on tainted testimony and speculation, but they chose to open the door. Like the bloody glove, the jury will dwell on it, (like bloggers here) and if the glove don't fit ...

Anonymous said...

Motive is only important when the State has one. When they don't, they repeat, ad naseum, they don't need one. As I posted in another thread, there was a simple yet public way to get rid of Butler's case. The only question is why didn't Smith empanel a jury and then rest without calling a witness?

Anonymous said...

She is the daughter of Congressman Bennie Thompson's consigliere John Walker.
This tells you a lot.

Anonymous said...

9:21, I understand what you are saying, but way didn't RSS simply tell Judge Weill that he thought the drugs had been planted in writing as the judge asked, to give the basis for dismissing the charges ? Why didn't RSS just hold off the prosecution of Butler until he could further investigate whether the drugs had been planted, rather than outright dismissing the charges based on the self-serving and suspect testimony of a twice convicted felon testimony ? (I would be willing to bet that many people caught with drugs claim the drugs were not theirs.) RSS was saying the drugs were planted before he ever saw the video, which by the way did not show the drugs being planted as he claimed. You note that RSS' motive was "That Butler alleged a setup and he sincerely believed it, so he wanted to investigate the culprits." So what did he do to investigate the MBN for supposedly planting the drugs ? And if he wanted to "investigate the culprits", why was he trying to indict Judge Weill and the AAGs, not the MBN officer involved ? It was supposedly the MBN agents who planted the drugs, not Judge Weill or the AAGs.

Anonymous said...

RSS is clearly unfit to serve as the DA. Hinds County is a mess. He's not helping. Who the hell are these people supporting him? Criminals and their loved ones?

Anonymous said...

motive is not an element of any crime. its simply an explanation for why a person did some act or omission.

if you interpret that statute as one post above does, an ADA could not make a plea deal in exchange for testimony against a codefendant! much ado has been made about RSS visiting Butler in the jail, but consider this: Butler's attorney approved of it, and ADAs do visit defendants in jail when they are cooperating to prepare their testimony.

I don't think RSS was that concerned with Butler, I think he wanted a war with MBN. His behavior is bizzare, but probably not criminal.

The jury should let us know very soon.

someoneinnorthms said...

Just a hypothetical and not a comment on the strength of a y case against Butler: if a prosecutor dismisses a case against a defendant does that amount to hindering prosecution? Does it matter if that case has weak or strong evidence? Does it matter if the prosecutor has a previous business or personal relationship with the defendant? It seems that the AG is on a slippery slope toward taking discretion away from prosecutors.

Anonymous said...

I hope the jury feels more competent to judge this than I feel having read about this case for some time. Wish someone could just draw a chart of what and who and where. Then they could show us what exactly was illegal. RSS could show us why he did such and such.

Anonymous said...

The bottom line here is that RSS was told by Weill to present the cause for the nolle pros. RSS could not, because no proof exists showing wrongdoing by MBN. Were there any evidence he would have produced the evidence before Weill and none of this would be taking place. RSS is a thug and a criminal. His actions afterward are alldirect evidence of aiding/couseling a criminal defendant. Pretty simple

Anonymous said...

11:30 -

This has nothing to do with prosecutorial discretion.

Judge Weill made a reasonable request of Smith: provide a written basis for a nolle pros. Smith refused.

Then he attempted to indict the same judge. And two assistant attorneys general.

Does that strike you as prosecutorial discretion? Or the action of a rational human being?

Anonymous said...

Crawl over to Donner's white board 12:07 and have her scratch it out for you. Thank goodness you aren't on the jury.

Anonymous said...

Didn't Smith allege that Weill was denying him access to the "evidence" tapes which would prove Butler's allegations against the AD and MBN? The tapes don't prove Butler's claims but RSS seems to be saying that Weill hindered HIM in doing his job. There is a major pissing contest afoot.

Anonymous said...

12:24 Not simple because what is lacking here is any proof that RSS obtained anything of value in exchange for his actions toward Butler, so it may be just as likely that he's just a crazy guy who followed paranoid, unverified fantasies that Butler was set up. RSS unfit to hold his office? Certainly. Irrational? Yes. Negligent? No doubt at the very least. Guilty of a crime? Questionable at best which means a verdict of Not Guilty.

Anonymous said...

There is no crime, nor criminal activity here...just a bunch of foaming mouth breathers.

someoneinnorthms said...

Well, 12:38, I was really speaking about a hypothetical case. But, since you brought it up . . . I honestly thought "discretion" was something that one could use for a silly reason, a whimsical reason, or even no reason at all. Apparently, prosecutors in Mississippi only have the discretion that the court allows. I really, really, really thought that prosecutors could pick and choose among their cases (or potential cases) based upon political considerations or their best ideas about criminal justice or based on their grandmother's favorite recipe for banana nut bread, as long as the decision didn't violate Equal Protection or rise to the level of selective prosecution. I was wrong, apparently.

Since Circuit Court judges have the authority to oversee the use of prosecutorial discretion Herr Weill was perfectly within his rights to command the DA to memorialize the reason. I honestly don't know if RSS just didn't write down, "not enough evidence," or if Herr Weill didn't like that reason. I understood that's what RSS said in a hearing, but I wasn't there; could be wrong.

RSS should not be a DA, but that doesn't mean he did anything criminally wrong. Herr Weill should not be a judge(in fact, HE should be the DA). Jimmy Hood should not be the AG. Ultimately everybody in this story is a bad guy. But I'm furious that they are spending so much time and money on something so stupid. And, yes, to get back to the original point, if this proof suffices to show RSS hindered prosecution then DAs across the state will have been neutered in their ability to dispose of cases as they see fit

Anonymous said...

The law about assisting criminal defendants says nothing about DA having to receive anything of value. Still simple.

Anonymous said...

1/4 at 3:20 --

I honestly thought "discretion" was something that one could use for a silly reason, a whimsical reason, or even no reason at all. Apparently, prosecutors in Mississippi only have the discretion that the court allows.

Prosecutors nolle pros when, for instance, a witness's testimony is shaky. Or the witness has a lengthy criminal record. Or a cop moves out of state and can't testify. All kinds of mundane reasons. Typically, prosecutors (especially in federal court) won't seek an indictment unless they're pretty sure they can prove all elements beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

In this case, an RSS underling took the case to a grand jury and got an indictment. Then he fired her. Then he said MBN planted evidence (with no proof to this effect.)

Then he went to see the defendant in jail, claiming him as "a client."

Then he indicted a circuit judge and two assistant attorneys general.

All for a twice-convicted drug trafficker.

That's not discretion. It's corruption.

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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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