Wednesday, February 15, 2017

DPS stonewalls again

The Mississippi Department of Public Safety refused to provide a copy of a report on the death of Gaming Commission Special Agent John Gorman.  JJ submitted a public records request for a copy of the report that was compiled by the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations.  DPS Spokesman Warren Strain replied in an email last Friday:

Due to on-going litigation in state and federal courts and in accordance with Miss. Code Ann. 25-1-102, the report on the death of Mississippi Gaming Commission Special Agent Gorman is exempt from the Mississippi Public Records Act. If you have any questions, please let me know.
The statute cited states:

Records in the possession of a public body, as defined by paragraph (a) of Section 25-61-3, which represent and constitute the work product of any attorney, district attorney or county prosecuting attorney representing a public body and which are related to litigation made by or against such public body, or in anticipation of prospective litigation, including all communications between such attorney made in the course of an attorney-client relationship, shall be exempt from the provisions of the Mississippi Public Records Act of 1983.
  Mr. Gorman was a Gaming Commission Special Agent who was killed two years ago yesterday when an instructor shot him in the chest during a training exercise.  No one has been charged in the death.  Instructor Robert Sharp claimed he thought his Glock was unloaded when he fired the weapon in an exercise that was supposed to only use "dummy" weapons.  


Anonymous said...

Played high school football with John. Very nice guy and a solid gaming agent. Hopefully his family will receive closure.

Anonymous said...

Since the report is obviously nt exempt, you should file a complaint with the Ethics Commission.

Anonymous said...

It is not stonewalling when there is a valid reason (on-going investigation into a death) to keep the record confidential.

Jackson Jambalaya seems to be very negative about DPS just because there are a few unhappy sue-happy people. The vast majority of DPS employees are hard-working, good-hearted people who are very principled and dedicated to doing their best for the public.

Prayers for John and his family.

Anonymous said...

I fished with John several times about 15-20 or so years ago. He was a great guy. Was working for McRaes in security then.

Anonymous said...

Looks to me to be exempt. What are you seeing differently?

Anonymous said...

Keep up the good fight KF. A lot of respect for you.

Anonymous said...

If the case is in litigation, check the State and Federal Court files in the appropriate jurisdiction, if there is really litigation. As to the DPS leadership, it needs all the public oversight we can muster. I worked with them fo 30 years and this mho. Good work Mr. Fish.

Anonymous said...

Incident reports are available to the public.

Investigative reports are not available to the public if a case is still pending.

Mr. Strain is not an attorney and indeed he did not correctly cite the law, but he correctly stated the law.

Anonymous said...

@2:07, have another look. If the report is from the MBI, then it's not from an attorney listed in the statute and, therefore, not exempt.

I'm Not Either, Are You?.. said...

You can bet your two dollar ass Mr Strain acts on advice of an attorney, 6:41. Nobody claimed he is an attorney. Anybody with any governmental body that replies to such requests has legal counsel to advise.

It would be good to know how the 'attorney' at 9:00 p.m. concludes the 'report is obviously not exempt'.

Anonymous said...

Instructors don't shoot their students.

Anonymous said...

6:57 DPS does have in-house attorneys from the AG office, but Mr. Strain doesn't need legal advice. Law enforcement and prosecutors routinely declined to produce investigative files for active cases. Its not to the level of anti-trust litigation. Its an everyday, mundane activity. He probably has a flawed form.

Bottom line: IF there is litigation pending, such as a wrongful death suit, the investigative reports won't be released by DPS. They may or may not get leaked by the plaintiffs...

Anonymous said...

I thought Gaming Commission Agents were more like accountants going in to audit revenues and make sure the state gets its share. Why are we training agents for gun fights? Are we expecting the Casinos to try to kill the auditors?

Anonymous said...

11:18, you should do a little research. Gaming Commission Agents are sworn and authorized to carry firearms, make arrests and serve search warrants. They not only investigate crimes related casinos, they also investigate illegal sports betting, dog fighting and illegal slot machines. Just the same as the Department of Revenue has sworn Agents, so does the Gaming Commission.

Anonymous said...

9:03, those unhappy, sue-happy people have valid claims. I suppose you'd just sit by and let your employer abuse your rights, huh; I'm sure if you had a similar such claim, you'd do the same. And you're wrong, the majority of DPS employees are looking for the best way to screw each other over to make their 4 highest years of compensation and do the least amount of work possible.

Anonymous said...

DPS does not have and is not required to have attorneys from the AG's office like other real agencies. The two that they have are direct employees of DPS.

Jeff said...

The only contact I ever had with a DPS attorney revealed that he didn't know anything about the law about which he was speaking, and apparently hadn't even read it. Or maybe he was just illiterate.

And here, it looks like only records WHICH REPRESENT AND CONSTITUTE THE WORK PRODUCT OF ANY ATTORNEY, DISTRICT ATTORNEY OR COUNTY PROSECUTING ATTORNEY are exempt. Records which are the work of non-attorney officers or folks not working for the above attorneys do not appear to be exempt.

Anonymous said...

Don't you get a law degree when you graduate from patrol school?

Dane Kitto said...

The knucklehead that shot him should be criminally charged.

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