Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The day of reckoning comes closer for Judge Patton

U. S. District Court Judge Tom Lee ruled against Hinds County Court Judge Houston Patton's motion for summary judgement in the lawsuit filed against him by James Jennings, Jr. The federal judge didn't just rule against Mr. Patton but used some rather strong language in his opinion against the judge. Copy of order, Earlier post (Folo first broke this story two years ago).

Judge Patton threw James Jennings, Jr. in jail for two weeks without charge, hearing, or bond in 1994. Jennings filed a complaint with the Commission on Judicial Performance and prepared to file a lawsuit against Patton. His attorney, Keith Shelton, made a settlement offer to the judge. The judge then contacted the Hinds County District Attorney's office and told them Shelton and Jennings were attempting to extort him. Patton lied to the D.A.'s office, which subsequently prosecuted the pair. Although indicted, the case never went to trial and was later dismissed with prejudice. This is the storyline given by the Mississippi Supreme Court in a finding of fact issued when it reinstated Keith Shelton's law license.

Jennings filed a lawsuit against Patton and Ed Peters in 2008 seeking damages for his false imprisonment and later indictment. Patton and Peters filed motions for summary judgement, claiming they were both immune from the lawsuit as Judge and District Attorney.

Judge Lee agreed with Peters and strongly rejected Patton's attempt to claim immunity for his actions on the bench. The Court cited case law to support its judgement that Patton did not enjoy any immunity for his actions:
"There are only two circumstances under which immunity may be overcome. 'First, a judge is not immune from liability for nonjudicial actions, i.e. actions not taken in the judge's judicial capacity.' 'Second, a judge is not immune from actions, though judicial in nature, taken in the complete absence of all jurisdiction.' The issue here is whether Patton's challenged actions were taken in his judicial capacity, as he contends, or whether they were nonjudicial actions, for which there is no absolute judicial immunity."

The Court stated that "under the version of facts offered by Jennings, which the court accepts as true for present purposes, Patton's action may not be fairly characterized as judicial." Judge Lee states "Plaintiff maintains these (settlement offer of $25,000) were the sole terms of what was a simple settlement proposal, and yet Patton falsely reported to law enforcement officials and signed a formal statement to the effect that Jennings and Shelton had attempted to extort and/or bribe him." The Court didn't stop here but went further and stated "In the court's opinion, based on plaintiff's version of the facts, no reasonable argument can be made that Patton's alleged acts of making false statements to law enforcement and withholding material and exculpatory information to bring about the criminal prosecution of two innocent men are judicial or adjudicative acts." Judge Lee then concludes there are "genuine issues of material fact that preclude summary judgement on this immunity defense."

What is more interesting is the Court found Ed Peters did enjoy immunity from his actions in Jenning's prosecution. Interesting in that in typical Ed Peters fashion, he threw Patton under the bus. Of course his office would have never knowingly prosecuted an innocent man. It was the Judge's fault, he lied to them you see. Well, the Court did say that was exactly the case and that the prosecutors were acting in good faith based on what Judge Patton told them. Thus, Peters escapes, again.

Although Br'er Peters wriggled free yet again, judgement moves closer to Houston Patton, who now must face a trial and explain why he issued a letter de cachet against Jennings and then served him and Keith Shelton up to the District Attorney in an effort to protect his own ass. While he saved his own ass back then, it appears now that it might finally be cooked as there will finally be a trial and Judge Patton will be forced to account for his actions. Does anyone think Jennings will accept a settlement at this point? Stay tuned.

Oh, one other question must be asked: how many other people has Patton thrown in jail without charge or hearing?

Mississippi Bar's finding of fact

Background of Jennings case:
"The nightmare for James Jennings,Jr. began ( According to a finding of fact by the Mississippi Bar) "on September 24, 1993, as a judgement in favor of Jennings in the amount of $35,000 by Judge Houston Patton (p.4)...... Mississippi Bar's Finding of Fact

Jailtime for Jennings
Unfortunately, Jennings was unaware his ex-wife filed telephone harassment charges against him. On February 1, 1994, Justice Court Judge Clyde R. Chapman signed an order and mittimus to place Jennings in the county jail until a bond was posted.... (p.4) On February 11, Justice Court Judge Raymond Bates signed a warant for Jennings' arrest...... It should be pointed out Jenning's ex-wife then hired local attorney James Bell (remember him?). Jennings became the Man in the Iron Mask as Judge Patton sent Jennings back to jail without ever affording Jennings the opportunity to have counsel..... (p.6. He was imprisoned on March 5).

Ten days later, Jennings was still in jail. Bonds were refused, release orders were found, then revoked by judges. Jennings was tried in absentia. His new attorney was not allowed to represent him. Every legal trick in the book to keep Jennings in jail was used as he continued to rot in a Hinds hellhole. Finally his lawyer cornered Judge Patton on March 15. Ms. Pierce spoke with Judge Patton in the foyer of the Hinds County Courthouse and asked Judge Patton what it would do to get Jennings out of jail. Judge Paton replied "get the agreement (giving up his judgement of $35,000) signed." (p.9)

"It became clear to Ms. Pierce that in order for Jennings to be released he would have to give up his $35,000 judgement against Kenney. Mr. Kirstine (Jennings' other lawyer) drafted the agreement for Jennings to sign. Jennings at first emphatically refused to sign the agreement. After much protest, Jennings eventually signed the agreement and was then immediately released.

It is important to note that at no time during Jennings' incarceration was he ever charged or tried for any alleged conduct but instead was simply held in jail until he agree to give up his rightfully obtained judgement against Kenny. Jennings was apparently deprived of due process which would give rise to claims under 42 U.S. Code Section 1983." Jennings sat in jail for nearly two weeks as he became a pinata for Judge Patton and his judicial cronies.

Jennings later filed a complaint against Judge Patton with the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance and hired Jackson attorney Keith Shelton to represent him in a Section 1983 action against the Hinds County Jurist. It should be noted the narrative for this ordeal is taken directly from the Mississippi Bar's finding of fact and is not just hearsay or some outrageous claim made by Jennings. (There are many more details, including some that are very juicy, but in the interest of presenting a story easier to follow, they have been omitted from this post. Please read the rest of the findings and accompanying affidavits).

The Empire Strikes Back
While discussing a possible settlement of the lawsuit, Judge Patton informed Jennings' lawyer, Shelton, he would settle if he dropped the complaint with the Commission. It is a pretty well established point of judicial ethics in Mississippi that once a complaint is filed against a judge or lawyer, it cannot be dismissed by the person who signed the complaint. The two sides agreed to a sum of $25,000 for settlement, with Judge Patton paying Jennings $5,000 up-front and the rest in installments. Meanwhile, Judge Patton contacted law enforcement and told them Shelton and Jennings were attempting to extort him, while neglecting to mention he himself was the subject of an ethics complaint filed by Jennings and a possible Section 1983 lawsuit.

Patton wore a wire to the meeting. He paid Jennings the $5,000 and both parties signed the settlement agreement. Shelton and Jennings were later arrested and then indicted. The charges were later dismissed as Hinds County Assistant District Attorney Robert Taylor (served from 1982 to 2006). Taylor stated Judge Patton deviated from the script he was given. Taylor said he didn't understand why they were indicted and said seeking the indictments "was an egregious error". Taylor testified to the bar "it's clear in retrospect we didn't get the complete story."


nmisscommenter said...

No mention or link to where this story broke?

That's odd.

Anonymous said...

Odd or an oversight of courtesy? Do you bitch when Lange (or his 'intern') abuses fair use?

Anonymous said...

this conduct by judge patton is unbelievable. why has he not been indicted!!!

Kingfish said...

Courtesy. They broke it first and I would've never known about it if it had not been on their site and they did extensive coverage of it back then. He's also posted my coverage of it on his site so its only fair.

Anonymous said...

KF, I so appreciate you and do not understand why your site doesn't get a hit every day by my fellow Mississippians. Lotus at Folo worked many many hours putting this on her blog and I wan't to thank her for what she also did. Thank You again for what you do for Justice in Mississippi by putting Sunshine where it has been cloudy for generations.

Anonymous said...

The Feds need to come in and clean house. This is not just disgraceful, it is UNAMERICAN and UNPATRIOTIC!
Patton and Peters are no different than traitors as far as I'm concerned. They just aren't working to bring down the Nation for a foreign government but to line their purses!
Since we can't tar and feather them, the LEAST we can do is SHUN them!

Anonymous said...

Hard to outclass Kingfish!He boldly goes where no "Carrion Ledger" or "Jackson Flea Press" reporter would dare tread. He shines the lamp of truth and the roaches scatter.
I wonder how Houston Patton's food is tasting today? If he's keeping anything down at all. Hell, Patton may well be too stupid to interpret not only the law but the tone Lee is setting in that order. I would not want to be Patton in that man's court. I'll bet you sometime next week, Patton's attorneys have that, "come to Jesus" chat with him and explain just how screwed he is. "Ahhh Houston...we have a problem.


Anonymous said...

AH. Now I got it. Interesting. Need a marketer?

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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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