Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The jury steps up to the plate

The fate of Ben Allen will finally be placed into the hands of the jury today.  The defense rested yesterday and closing arguments will be heard this morning.  The courtroom circus continued yesterday as Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith called none other than one Jackson Ward 3 councilman Kenneth Stokes to testify as a rebuttal witness.  The D.A. also attempted to change eight of the ten counts in the indictment but Judge Winston Kidd said hell no to that idea.  A Hinds County grand jury indicted Mr. Allen for embezzlement in his position as Executive Director of Downtown Jackson Partners.

Meanwhile, Othor Cain provided some of the best coverage of the trial on his Facebook page:

Judge Kidd just denied the motion to amend the indictment. "At this juncture in the trial it wouldn't be wise as I believe when the defendant was served his indictment, his defense prepared accordingly."

 Prosecution is asking the judge now to amend the indictment on charges/counts 1-8.Kidd is asking why at this stage?  Defense is responding the reason the prosecution wants to make the changes is because they didn't prove their side in either of those counts.

 All of Stokes' answers to the defense questions were "NO." The council has NO authority over the money. The council can not tell DJP what to do with money. The council has no control over tax collector...No...No..No...  Stokes' testimony has ended. Once again both sides returned to the judges' bench.

 Judge Kidd has allowed Stokes to testify but with qualifiers and restrictions saying, "this isn't about politics." Smith is finding it difficult to ask certain questions. Kidd has called both sides to the bench again.

 Judge Kidd just ruled that Kenneth Stokes will be allowed to testify (limited) in the embezzlement trial of Ben Allen, who serves as the president of Downtown Jackson Partners.The prosecution wants Stokes to counter the strong defense of DJPs attorney Robert L. Gibbs. The defense called this motion "an attempt to sandbag the defense."

 Stokes is calling the money that DJP receives tax money and he says the city has no oversight of this tax money. "I've voted against this in the past..this isn't the right process," he said.

 Court is back in session. The prosecution (Robert Smith) is wanting to call Councilman Kenneth Stokes as a witness. The defenseMerrida Coxwell is arguing that allowing Stokes would be a violation of the discovery rules of the court and saying his testimony would be his opinion at best. Smith is arguing he's a sitting Jackson City Councilman and can speak. Kidd is hearing from both sides now and will make a ruling shortly.

 After only calling two witnesses to the stand, the defense just rested in the embezzlement trail of Ben Allen, who serves as president of Downtown Jackson Partners.

 Kidd: will not allow the prosecution to cross examine Gibbs on cases in which the Supreme Court over turned his decisions while he served as Circuit Judge. The prosecution was attempting to ask the justice to impeach Robert L. Gibbs' testimony.

 Robert L. Gibbs remains extremely firm in his position of private vs public funds. He continues to say to Smith, "sir you're wrong." Smith has asked again this morning how much Gibbs earn from DJP. Gibbs responded to courtroom laughter, "how many times can I say the same thing."

 Another Day (Day 6) in the embezzlement trial of Downtown Jackson Partners President Ben Allen.
The battle of the Roberts just began...again! Robert Smith's first question was to ask Robert Gibbs if he was a board member of DJP to which Robert L. Gibbs responded,"as I told you last week, I'm not a board member, I'm the attorney for DJP..."
Meanwhile, Jerry Mitchell reported in the Clarion-Ledger:

Last week, the defense dealt a blow to the prosecution’s case when Derrick Garner of the state auditor’s office, who investigated Allen and the Partners, testified he found no proof Allen embezzled funds related to the charges listed in the indictment.

Robert L. Gibbs of Jackson, an attorney for the Partners, testified Monday that if he knew Allen had used any of the nonprofit’s money for personal use, he would tell the jury.

“If you can show me where (Allen) spent any of the (Partners’) money for a whirlpool for his son, I’ll tell the jury that’s wrong, but you haven’t shown it to me,” Gibbs told District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith.

An indictment accuses Allen of embezzling money from the Partners, and Smith told jurors that money from the nonprofit went to buy a whirlpool for his son. But Gibbs testified he found the money actually went to parts for a Whirlpool refrigerator owned by the Partners.

Alluding to Garner’s report where he listed embezzlement as the charge he investigated, Smith asked Gibbs if he would accept Garner’s finding.

“I don’t agree to a finding until I see the evidence behind the finding,” replied Gibbs, who receives a $1,000-a-month retainer to represent the nonprofit.

Asked if he would accept that this was a crime, Gibbs replied, “If (Allen) used … Partners’ money to buy his son a whirlpool, that would be wrong, and I would tell the jury it’s wrong, but I’m not going to say it’s a crime.” He said that’s because the Partners’ money is private, not public.

Smith said if someone buys property in the 66-block business improvement district, they must pay the tax. “They can’t opt out,” he said.

Gibbs replied that before people buy property in the district, they would learn they owe the assessment.
He said 91 percent of those in the district had voted to continue the district and that they decided to raise their assessment from 9 to 11 cents a square foot.

“Those people decided to do it themselves,” he said. “The city has no input on that.”

Smith handed Gibbs the minutes of a meeting in which Allen referred to “slow taxes” affecting the Partners’ revenue.
Gibbs told Smith the revenue is not a tax.

“The statute calls it an assessment,” Gibbs said. “Several times in the statute it is referred to as an assessment. You need to stop calling it a tax.”

As for questions surrounding the Partners, Gibbs said the nonprofit has “always had clean audits.” Article

However, Mr. Mitchell did not report the D.A.'s attempts to change the indictment.   Mr. Smith apparently wanted to strike part of the statute from eight counts of the indictment. Meanwhile, WLBT provided this video coverage:

Kingfish note: Now the real fun starts.  What will the jury do? 


Anonymous said...

Put on your to do list in Hinds County; vote out RSS!

Anonymous said...

I assume Allen didn't testify. About 90% of the time, that means he is, in fact, guilty.

Anonymous said...

The Bar could and should review his license. Are DA's required to be Members of the Mississippi Bar?

Anonymous said...

Not following too closely, but it appears he is guilty, but the prosecution blew it.

Anonymous said...

Robert Gibbs is one of the classiest individuals you'll ever meet, and not just in the legal field. Hinds County would be a much better place if he were still on the bench. Nothing but integrity in that honorable man.

Anonymous said...

10:12, you're a genius.

10:21 --

So. You're not following closely. Tells me you haven't been in the courtroom to hear ANY evidence or see ANY exhibits, but you've concluded that (a) he's guilty; but (b) the DA's office blew it.

Putting aside that (b) is a legit assumption -- Smith being a race-obsessed unhinged freak and all -- what do you base your learned opinion on?

Anonymous said...

1. Suggesting the D.A. be 'voted out' is as nutty as suggesting Stokes should be voted out. Impossible.

2. Suggesting someone who does not testify in his own defense is (90% of the time) an indication of guilt is as nutty as a damned fruitcake. Upon what legal theory, poll or study is that madness based?

Anonymous said...

This isn't about a truck, never has been about a truck, and never will be about a truck. The truck is just an impetus for something else that the outsiders looking in haven't a clue about. That much is apparent.

Anonymous said...

10:31 over thirty years as an attorney in the criminal justice system, state and federal, all in Mississippi...

Anonymous said...

Not following too closely, but it appears he is guilty, but the prosecution blew it.

Not following too closely but you'll generously offer an uninformed opinion nonetheless.

Anonymous said...

Attn 10:31 Over 30 years as an attorney in the criminal justice system? And that is what you learned in your 30 years of esteemed service.

Anonymous said...

generally, there are three reasons criminal defendants don't testify:

1. they are guilty

2. they have past convictions that the jury can hear about

3. they have such a bad personality or other traits that can cause a jury to intensely dislike them.

Allen has neither problems 2 and 3.

Although the judge will tell the jury not to consider the fact that the defendant didn't testify, they will, and they will wonder why he didn't explain to them how he's innocent.

Anonymous said...

Even if is covicted, I bet has a very good chance of winning on an appeal.

Anonymous said...

No worries about RSS. My bet is the Bar/Supreme Court will take him out of service before a jury/electorate will. Just a hunch.

Anonymous said...

Everyone knows he is guilty. He got caught but he put the money back. His buddies are pretty much the same as him so were glad they got the money back. They now know they can do the same thing and expect the same results. No matter what the jury decides, the people know he is guilty.

Anonymous said...

what's really on trial here is Hinds County and its administration of justice. Everything I have read and studied, and some personal knowledge of RSS, this is a classic race based inquisition. If Allen is convicted, it will be a travesty of justice, and will have repercussions far beyond this silly trial. In the end, he will be exonerated.

Anonymous said...

To: 11:53

I intensely dislike Ben Allen---he is self centered and has used the DJP Board to his advantage and helped Board members get a leg up on their competition. Ben has no clue on how to run an organization that is the life blood of Jackson. DJP, you need to hire the person from Chattanooga or Little Rock that turned those cities around---WHAT ARE YOU WAITING ON ??????????

Anonymous said...

11:53, there is a fourth. (I agree with your first three) If the defense feels that the prosecution hasn't made their case and as in this trial the jury has heard more than they are interested in, then its time to shut up and close it down.

And what could Ben say except that he didn't take the money, and that the board had approved all the expenditures?

Anonymous said...

Hey, 10:12 with "I assume Allen didn't testify. About 90% of the time, that means he is, in fact, guilty."

Why do you suppose Ms Brune didn't testify? Do you assume then that she too is, in fact, guilty?

Anonymous said...

Based on what I have read in media aw well as blog, I would guess that he is not guilty and will be found not guilty by the jury. I'm amazed to read that the DA and apparently also the grand jury cannot differentiate between money for a whirlpool (a hot-tub) and money for parts to a Whirlpool appliance.

Anonymous said...

If he were to testify everybody knows damned well this psychotic, neurotic prosecutor would question him for four days about everything under the sun and nothing having anything to do with the reason for this trial.

Allen has nothing to gain by testifying. Once he got past three 'NO's, he would still sit there in this circus for four days of trying to respond to idiotic inquiries.

Anonymous said...

@1;43 -- Agreed.

Anonymous said...

1:27, that is a rare occurrence in my experience, however you are correct. good point. I don't think that is what is happening in this trial however.

One thing I don't completely understand is whether DJP produced documentation about the credit card purchases and minutes concerning the truck title. Without an "accounting" for those matters, hard defense for the jury from the 1st Judicial District of Hinds County, Mississippi, to accept...

Anonymous said...

Having been on DJP Board when all this came up, I am shocked that it has gotten this far. Ben provided receipts and documentation for every single dollar that he was alleged to have stolen. The outside auditors verified that. The outside legal counsel verified that. Ben never personally profited from a dime. That's the truth. Perhaps, Ben was not called to testify because the lawyers think think the jury gets it. I pray that the jury recognizes the truth and acquits Ben.

Anonymous said...

I bet it is going to be awkward for Meagan West of channel 16 if he is found guilty. I know it would be for me if i had to tell the world that my father in law was found guilty of embezzling money. Ive noticed that wapt has been rather low key on their coverage of this trial.

Anonymous said...

Thanks 'Little Ben' @ 3:25.

Anonymous said...

5:40, you're wrong there. Megan has absolutely reported on it as has Scott Simmons.

Anonymous said...

The jury has spoken. Get that thug off the streets.

Anonymous said...

3:25 How on earth could Ben have supplied receipts for every credit card purchase when the Board Chairman, David Watkins, stated to the Clarion Ledger that Ms. Brune stole those files and they couldn't operate without them. Doesn't pass the smell test.

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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.

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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.

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