Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Sid Salter: Tom Lee Right Jurist for the Job

Mississippians watched along with the rest of the nation to see whether justice would prevail in the so-called “Goon Squad” cases in which six white former Rankin County law enforcement officers pleaded guilty to torturing and terrorizing two Black men for hours after breaking into a home without a warrant.

The victims, Michael Corey Jenkins and Eddie Terrell Parker, were handcuffed, beaten, abused, and sexually assaulted with a sex toy. Jenkins had a gun placed into his mouth by one officer who pulled the trigger, leaving the victim with a lacerated tongue and a broken jaw.

Federal prosecutors argued that there was a strong racial component behind the attack. The defendants included former Rankin County Sheriff’s deputies Brett McAlpin, Christian Dedmon, Hunter Elward, Jeffrey Middleton, Daniel Opdyke and former Richland police officer Joshua Hartfield.

Their guilty pleas received, the six former lawmen faced Senior U.S. District Judge Tom S. Lee, the 82-year-old veteran of a few months shy of 40 years on the federal bench in Mississippi’s Southern District, for sentencing. Over those years, Lee has managed any number of high-profile, high-pressure cases without flinching.

Judge Lee is the scion of a family of distinguished Mississippi jurists from Scott County. His brother, the late Roy Noble Lee Sr., was appointed to a vacancy on the Mississippi Supreme Court in 1976 and served until 1993 – serving as chief justice from 1987 to 1993.

The Lee brothers’ father, the late Percy Mercer Lee, preceded his sons as a lawyer, district attorney, Circuit Court judge, and later as a justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court from 1950 to 1965 – serving the final two years as chief justice.

Former Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr. described Roy Noble Lee’s leadership of the state’s highest court: “Some of the most significant advancements for the judicial branch of government during the 20th century were implemented under his leadership.

“He gave leadership to the enactment of legislation that created the Administrative Office of Courts and the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals, as he predicted, has been an excellent solution to allow timely disposition of cases and eliminate the backlog that had long plagued the appellate court.”

Judge Tom Lee, from the very beginning of his federal judicial tenure, has been called upon to render judgments in difficult, sensitive cases. Less than a year into his tenure, Lee heard the case of veteran State Sen. Tommy Brooks of Carthage, who was convicted after an 8-day trial of trying to extort $50,000 from the Mississippi Horse Racing Association for his legislative support on a bill to make pari-mutuel betting on horse racing legal in Tunica and Jackson counties.

Later in his career, Lee would oversee a Mississippi voting rights case that drew international headlines. In 2007, Lee ruled that activist Ike Brown, then the Noxubee County Democratic Party chairman, had violated the Voting Rights Act by engaging “in improper, and in some instances fraudulent conduct, and committed blatant violations of state election laws for the purpose of diluting white voting strength.”

Brown appealed the ruling to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and a three-judge panel later affirmed Lee’s ruling in 2009, making the Brown case the first time that the Voting Rights Act was used to successfully allege voter discrimination by Blacks against whites. But Brown’s legal team called the prosecution a “concerted effort by the Bush Administration to interfere with the ability of Black voters to elect Black officials.”

The Fifth Circuit Court panel ruled Brown’s “conduct was undertaken with discriminatory intent: Brown’s statements indicate that he was primarily motivated by race.”

Lee’s sentences in the “Goon Squad” were tough but fair and sent a long overdue message to the small segment of law enforcement officers who thought a badge shielded their kind of “law enforcement” from punishment.

Anyone surprised by Lee’s steady, even dispensation of justice in the “Goon Squad” cases has simply not observed the judge’s four decades of federal judicial service. Regardless of the complexities of the cases, Judge Tom Lee for some 40 years has followed the law and let the chips fall.

Sid Salter is a syndicated columnist. Contact him at


Anonymous said...

Judge Lee handled the sentencing perfectly. He hammered the actors who are responsible for embarrassing themselves, their families, their colleagues and their communities.

Anonymous said...

As a side note, a "senior" U.S. District Court Judge, also called "senior status," means that the judge is retired and works part-time, as needed.

Anonymous said...

Sid adding to his list of gigs. Now president of the Tom Lee Fan Club. Sid continues to impress.

Anonymous said...

Very slow news day.

Anonymous said...

@8:59 AM did that feel good?

Anonymous said...

Hey Judge Lee, your job is not finished…

Anonymous said...

@8:59 As a side note, a "Senior" District Judge is not "retired." They simply have a reduced case-load and staff. They can remain in service as long as they wish and are assigned cases like other Judges until they retire - or pass away.

Anonymous said...

He did a good job in sentencing the Goons. Nothing can be worse than committing those horrible acts while standing behind a badge.

Anonymous said...

How will he handle the High Sheriff?

Anonymous said...

Judges have too much power.

Anonymous said...

I’m hearing some of the Goons thought they d only do a few years , Judge Lee did the right thing!!

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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.

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