Sunday, September 6, 2020

Video for Felony Plea Hearings OK'ed

The Mississippi Supreme Court issued the following statement. 

The Mississippi Supreme Court on Friday, Sept. 4, issued an  order allowing plea hearings in felony cases to be conducted by video conference to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in jails.

            Chief Justice Mike Randolph signed Emergency Administrative Order 16 today. The order said that trial judges have the discretion to use interactive audiovisual equipment to conduct plea hearings.  

            The order said that allowing plea hearings to be conducted by video appearance is “in the interest of balancing the health risks presented by COVID-19 with the courts’ constitutional and statutory duty to remain open and accessible.”

            The Supreme Court said that video conferencing for a plea hearing can be done only if a defendant willingly agrees to this method, and only if the defense attorney is physically present with the defendant. The Court issued these requirements:

            (1)  a full record of the proceedings shall be made, which may include an electronic recording (digitally or on tape);
            (2) after consultation with counsel, the defendant shall provide written consent to the use of “interactive audiovisual equipment” during the proceedings;
            (3) the court shall determine that the defendant knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily agrees to appear at the proceeding by interactive audiovisual means; and
            (4) counsel shall be physically present with the defendant during the proceedings, with each taking appropriate and/or mandated measures to minimize the potential transmission of COVID-19 (e.g., face coverings over the nose and mouth; social distancing), and provisions shall be made to allow for confidential communications between the defendant and counsel before and during the proceeding.

            On March 25, the Mississippi Attorney General and the State Public Defender filed a joint motion requesting the Supreme Court to adopt a temporary rule suspension that would allow felony plea hearings, sentencing hearings and probation violation hearings to be done by way of interactive audiovisual equipment. The request was made in an effort  to prevent the introduction of  COVID-19 into jails. The Supreme Court on March 26 declined to allow plea hearings by video conference, but agreed to temporarily suspend Rule1.8(c) of the Mississippi Rules of Criminal Procedure to allow sentencing hearings and probation violation hearings to be conducted by video conference. 

             The President of the United States signed the CARES Act the next day, March 27.  The CARES Act authorized federal courts to use video conferencing, under certain circumstances, for various criminal proceedings during the COVID-19 emergency, including felony pleas.

            The Supreme Court on Aug. 5 said it would reconsider the issue of trial courts using  video  conferences to conduct plea hearings. The Court told the Attorney General and the State Public Defender to provide more information via supplemental briefs.

            State Defender Andre’ de Gruy  in a document filed Aug. 11 said, “The purpose of our request in March and still today is to protect the health and safety of detainees while ensuring their constitutional rights are protected as well. Protection of this vulnerable population also protects everyone involved in the system including jailors, court personnel and defense lawyers but the defendant's rights must be paramount.”

            The office of the Attorney General asked the Court in a document filed Aug. 20 to protect vulnerable populations of jails by “vesting complete discretion in Mississippi’s trial court judges to decide on a case-by-case bases whether in-person hearings can be conducted safely or should be handled remotely.”

            The Attorney General noted that all U.S. District Courts in Mississippi as well as in neighboring states use video conferences for accepting felony pleas. The Attorney General wrote that after the CARES Act allowed federal district courts to utilize video conferences to conduct plea hearings, “all federal district courts in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Tennessee have found that felony plea proceedings cannot be conducted in person without seriously jeopardizing public health and safety and authorized the use of interactive audiovisual technology for these proceedings where the defendant consents and the court specifically finds that the plea cannot be delayed without serious harm to the interests of justice.”

Emergency Administrative Order16  is at this link: 


Anonymous said...

" On March 25, the Mississippi Attorney General and the State Public Defender filed a joint motion requesting the Supreme Court to adopt a temporary rule suspension that would allow felony plea hearings, sentencing hearings and probation violation hearings to be done by way of interactive audiovisual equipment. "

All of that is well and good.

I'm all for interactive audiovisual equipment.
Some call this basic video.
It's' been common for over twenty years.

While I'm happy the health of the staff is being considered, I won't ask any questions about new furniture, interior decorations or such within the AG's office.

Anonymous said...

Only took them 6 months into the pandemic to approve it

Anonymous said...

What is the obsession with the AG's office decor? Every executive in the world decorates their office. What exactly are you criticizing? What is your point? Or are you simply a bitter white male misogynist with no point beyond your disdain for women?

Anonymous said...

9:11, i would suggest you attempt to educate yourself about the history of excessive spending on the part of Fitch in her previous positions as that is obviously what was referenced in the post you criticize. For a conservative, she sure does like to spend the taxpayers money. Unfortunately, when she is called out on it, she does what you just did and claim misogyny. The post you criticize was not my post, i am posting for the first time in this thread and doing so for the simple purpose of challenging you to actually argue with facts and not name-calling. Happy Labor Day!

Anonymous said...

Thanks 11:31.

That was exactly my point.

Great first post !
I hope we see more of your observations.

Anonymous said...

@9:11, Maybe executives in the private sector decorates their offices, but State employees, and she is just an employee, cannot just start spending public money on office furniture unless something is broken. I've worked in several different State buildings, and that just doesn't happen. I can't imagine how much it would cost to change office furniture every time there was an employee turnover. Her staff probably needs office supplies that they can't get because she used a big portion of the budget replacing perfectly good furniture.

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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).

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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