Friday, May 29, 2009

An Interesting Way To Recruit a Colleague

You may remember my surprise when it was announced that former Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Jim Smith was going to serve as "Of Counsel" to Ogden & Associates, the firm owned by Jackson plaintiffs' lawyer Ashley Ogden.

Today Y'all Politics has posted a few pages from a website called "Follow the Money," which tracks campaign contributions across the country. It's much easier to search than the Mississippi Secretary of State's website (Delbert Hosemann, please take note).

Just playing around on "Follow the Money" on a Friday afternoon netted this interesting factoid: Ashley Ogden gave $5,000 to Chief Justice Smith's opponent, current Associate Justice Jim Kitchens.

Now that's one hell of a way to recruit a colleague . . . but there's more:

Ashley's donation was given on November 25, 2008, after the election.

So was that a "hedge your bets" donation?

Or maybe a gift in gratitude for delivering a highly-qualified "Of Counsel" to his firm?


NMC Discusses US Attorney Rumors

I expect most readers of this blog also read NMissCommentator, ably moderated by Oxford attorney Tom Freeland. But in case you don't, Tom has latched onto a website that keeps track of the various rumors surrounding the President's appointment of United States Attorneys for the Federal District Courts. The U.S. Attorney is the equivalent of the State District Attorney: he or she is the chief Federal prosecutor in the District, and also represents the Federal Government in civil suits. Mississippi is divided into a Northern and Southern District for this purpose.

NMC's post about the possible Mississippi nominees is here; a foll-up post is here.

As MainJustice reports:

Here are the names we’ve heard for the Northern District: Circuit Court Judge Thomas Gardner of Tupelo and Oxford attorney Christi McCoy. We’ve heard rumors - but can’t confirm — that McCoy may have hit some kind of snag in the vetting process. Through an aide, all Gardner would say is that he “has no way of confirming” any information about his potential candidacy. McCoy did not return a phone call seeking comment. We also heard Cindy Mitchell of Clarksdale mentioned for the post.

For the Southern District, the names we’ve heard are Kathy Nester, a Jackson attorney; Deborah McDonald, a lawyer in Natchez; and Dorsey Carson of Jackson. Mississippi bloggers have also mentioned Constance Slaughter-Harvey of Forest. Slaughter-Harvey is an old friend of Thompson and was the first black woman to graduate from the University of Mississippi law school.

So, I can't say you heard it here first, but you did hear it here.

NYT Certifies: She's The Real Thing

Today's New York Times has an interesting article on Circuit Judge Sonya Sotomayor, President Obama's nominee to the Supreme Court. It answers a lot of questions I have heard from my friends on the Left since her nomination. Given that the President has a penchant for Establishment appointees like Treasury Secretary Geithner, and given that Judge Sotomayor was a prosecutor before she was appointed as Federal District Judge by President George HW (Daddy) Bush, these friends ask: is the President making the most of his opportunity to re-shape the debate in the Supreme Court?

The answer, happily, is a resounding "yes." According to the Times, in the 1980's Judge Sotomayor was on the board of directors of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund (PRLDEF), a civil rights advocacy group in New York. The Times reports:

Ms. Sotomayor joined its board in 1980 when she was a young prosecutor in Manhattan and fresh out of Yale Law School. It was full of young, idealistic Latino lawyers like her who were eager to make a mark.

“She just believed in the mission,” Luis Alvarez, a former chairman of its board, said of Ms. Sotomayor. “This was a highly refined group of individuals who came from the premier academic institutions. It was almost like Camelot. It was a wonderful growth period.”

But Ms. Sotomayor stood out, frequently meeting with the legal staff to review the status of cases, several former members said. And so across her 12 years on the board — she left when she was appointed a federal judge in 1992 — she played an active role as the defense fund staked out aggressive stances on issues like police brutality, the death penalty and voting rights.

Among Judge Sotomayor's interests in those advocacy days was capital punishment. As the Times explains:

Ms. Sotomayor was part of a three-person committee of the board that recommended in 1981 that the fund oppose the reinstitution of the death penalty in New York State, according to board minutes from that time.

“Capital punishment is associated with evident racism in our society,” the panel wrote. “It creates inhuman psychological burdens for the offender and his/her family.”

I'm sure this aggravates the hell out of the Right, and it probably scares some on the Left who would prefer a "stealth" nominee -- one who has a hidden philosophy that is only disclosed after confirmation (you can put current Chief Justice Roberts in the category). But this President doesn't shirk the fight. The old politics of trying to "put a fast one" by the electorate by appointing people with no public record is OVER.

Let the debate begin.

PS: For the record, I like Secretary Geithner too.

"The Names Were Changed to Protect the Innocent" . . . Our Blog Name Change Contest

"Jim Craig's World" was a name that expressed the ability to see the world and its events from within my head (with important parts of my brain blocked out, of course; one doesn't want to scare the populace). The blog is now beyond that, and it's much better for it. In the short time that Matt "the Iceberg" Eichelberger has joined the World, he's raised the quality of "the product" to a new level. I think it's time to recognize this by changing the name of our blog.

We'd appreciate your input in re-naming the blog. If someone comes up with a name that we decide to adopt, he or she will drink on our tab at Tye's on a "Thursday at the Plaza" in the near future.

So fire away . . . what do you think?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Rumblings from Congress Street

I'm hearing that a budget deal may be imminent over at the Capitol. While we're waiting, Sen. David Baria's got a good analysis of the stalemate that makes a quick, informative read.

Congrats to Jim!

These are the moments when you know you've left the world a little better by being a lawyer. Here's an example of fine lawyerin' by my blog mate making a big difference in the life of a little girl and her grandmother:

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Cue the crickets...

Of what one cannot speak, one must pass over in silence:
"Because of the protections created by this court in Miranda and related cases, there is little if any chance that a defendant will be badgered into waiving his right to have counsel present during interrogation," Justice Scalia said.
Here's the opinion in Montejo v. Louisiana.

Wednesday Picture Post

Our Hinds County Circuit Courthouse at night:

Comment issues this morning

All, we have had issues with comments being mysteriously deleted this morning. We'll let you know when it's fixed.

Sorry for the inconvenience.

UPDATE - As of 11:28 a.m., the comment issues appear to be resolved. Fire away.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Transcript of the Hickman Statement

In an earlier post regarding Sharrod Moore, I referenced a transcript that is attached to the "State's Response to Defendant's Motion to Compel" in the Sharrod Moore case. It has been discussed by at least one local media outlet as well. Seeing as it's public record, I'll pass it along.

***By posting the following PDF, I am not endorsing any of the allegations found therein, nor am I passing judgment on the credibility of what Mr. Hickman says. ***

Another seeming screw-up involving the Mississippi State Crime Lab

Today, via interoffice mail from the Hinds County DA's Office, no less, I received a copy of an Innocence Project report entitled "Investigating Forensic Problems in the United States: How the Federal Government Can Strengthen Oversight Through the Coverdell Grant Program."

The Coverdell Grant Program is the vehicle by which the U.S. Dept. of Justice gives grant money to the states to help offset the high cost of analyzing forensic evidence in criminal matters. In 2004, Congress put new regulations in place for the Coverdell program in an effort to improve the quality of the work our state crime labs were doing. Reasoning that oversight and investigation by an outside agency would best ensure that result, Congress required that state entities getting Coverdell money would have to designate an external, independent government agency to review complaints of negligence or malfeasance.

Guess who didn't get the message?

In Mississippi, our State Crime Lab is under the direction of the Department of Public Safety, as is explained here. The main lab is in Jackson, and there are three branch labs across the state. According to the Innocence Project's report, the 4 Mississippi State Crime Labs received a total of $205,298 in FY07. And who would the State Crime Lab name as its external, independent oversight agency?

You guessed it: the Department of Public Safety.

Decide for Yourself: the Record of President Obama's Nominee

As you have no doubt heard from other sources, President Obama plans to nominate Judge Sonya Sotomayor of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to the United States Supreme Court. SCOTUSblog has been posting an excellent series regarding the published opinions of Judge Sotomayor. They are the first and best source for assessing her candidacy:

Civil Opinions Part I

Civil Opinions Part II

Civil Opinions Part III

Civil Opinions Part IV

Judge Sotomayor's Opinions With Dissents

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day: A General Discusses the Media

"If I had my choice, I would kill every reporter in the world, but I am sure we would be getting reports from hell before breakfast."

General William T. Sherman

Friday, May 22, 2009

Who Are These Guys?

I was looking at the Jackson Free Press post-election article on the election, which lists the top donors to the two Democratic campaigns:

The Candidates' Top 10 Individual Campaign Donors

Marshand Crisler

• Willie Bozeman, WB Consolidated, Terry, Miss.: $10,000

• Dudley Hughes, Hughes Oil Company: $10,000

• Larry Johnson, Landmark Homes: $10,000

• Charles Pickett, CP Development, Terry, Miss.: $7,500

• William Mounger: $5,500

• Dick Molpus: $5,200

• Leland Speed: $5,000

• Samuel L. Agnew, Environmental Technical Sales Inc., Baton Rouge: $5,000

• Wade Creekmore Jr., Ridgeland: $5,000

• James Creekmore: $5,000

Harvey Johnson Jr.

• Velma Johnson: $10,000

• Willie Wilson, Illinois business owner: $9,000

• Michael Matthews, consultant with LSG Strategies Services, of Washington: $5,000

LSG Strategies Services: $4,305

• Richard Boykin, of Boykin & Associates, LLC: $3,000

Ranjit Dhaliwal, Jackson business owner: $3,000

• Doug Dale, Jackson architect: $2,500

Areeb Sadaat, Garrett Enterprises: $2,000

• John McKee, ABMB Engineers: $2,000

• George Schimmel, Jackson retired physician: $1,250

I was intrigued that Michael Matthews, consultant with LSG Strategies Services, gave $5,000, and LSG Strategies Services itself gave $4,305, to Harvey Johnson's campaign.

LSG Strategies claims to be a "full services targeting, grassroots organizing, and phone contact firm," according to their Web page. Their client list includes many Democratic Party oriented organizations such as Democratic National Committee (DNC), Democratic Senate Campaign Committee (DSCC), Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), etc., and several State Democratic parties (but not the Mississippi Democratic Party).

According to Matthews'
bio page on the LSG Website, "Michael Matthews most recently was the Political Director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) for the 2002 election cycle. Prior to his tenure with the DCCC, Mr. Matthews served as Political Director to the 2000 Gore/Lieberman presidential campaign. . . .

* * * *
"Mr. Matthews has spent 20 years in campaign politics. In 1986 he managed former U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy's first congressional campaign. In that historic election Mr. Espy became the first African American elected to Congress from Mississippi since Reconstruction. As the general consultant for Harvey Johnson Jr. in 1997, Matthews played a key part in another historical election when Mr. Johnson became Jackson, Mississippi's first African American mayor."

Here's what I don't get: Wouldn't you expect a campaign consultant to be receiving money from a political campaign, not giving money to one? What's up with this? Or did LSG donate free services? If so, why?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Zata 3 "Turnout-Weighted" Map Shows Force of Hurricane Harvey

This map from Zata3 illustrates the turnout in each voting precinct in the Democratic Mayoral Primary run-off election on Tuesday. It is a stunning picture.

Brad Chism's Post-Runoff Analysis

From Brad Chism of Zata 3, a political consulting firm serving Democrats and progressive organizations, here is an interesting analysis of the Democratic runoff for Jackson Mayor:


We’ve had lots of calls and emails asking for a post election analysis. Attached are maps that tell the story well. Here’s our Monday-morning quarterback analysis about the margin of victory. And yes, here too is my admission that I had no clue that the margin of victory would be so large.

We started with two credible candidates in the runoff—Black AND White voters would agree that both were capable of running the city (as contrasted with several other candidates on the ballot on May 2nd) No matter who won, we would be better off.

Frank Melton had been vanquished in the Primary. One cynic observed to me that NE Jackson “had won” already. The anti-Melton angst was satiated. White voter turnout lagged in the runoff.

Harvey Johnson had been Jackson’s first Black Mayor. He wasn’t beaten four years ago because he was too close to White business leaders or had embarrassed the city. Johnson lost to a rock star financed with a wad of cash from NE Jackson.

Johnson was, and continues to be, a likeable fellow. Black voters didn’t despise Johnson in 2005. They just thought they had traded up.

Harvey Johnson had a very compelling stump speech and a theme that resonated. “I believe in second chances. I believe in a second-chance God…” How does one counter that without coming off as cold and unforgiving?

Johnson could point to several tangible projects that began under his watch that had come to fruition, mitigating the criticism that he had been ineffective.

There wasn’t enough of a visual contrast between the “Old vs. New” between Johnson and Crisler. The former mayor was 62 years old, not 82. He had a great line to deflect the criticism. “I know I am sixty two because I do 62 push ups every morning…”

In the end, the vote was more racially polarized than any of us would have hoped. But I suspect that over the past four years Mr. Johnson has thought a lot about the necessity of an inclusive approach to governing.

All the best


NYT: President's Court Pick Will Have Smooth Sailing In Senate

From today's New York Times, an interesting story suggesting that the battle for the next Justice on the United States Supreme Court is already over. Excerpts below (emphasis added):

Republicans in Senate Lower Expectations of a Court Fight
By Neil A. Lewis

WASHINGTON — While there is growing anticipation that the summer will bring the spectacle of a pitched Supreme Court confirmation battle, some Senate Republicans are lowering expectations that they are planning any major political fight.

President Obama has not yet named his choice to succeed Justice David H. Souter, but several Republicans acknowledge that it is unlikely they will be able to derail the nomination absent some startling revelation about the candidate.

Those Republicans, including senior staff aides and some senators, suggested in interviews that they believed Mr. Obama’s first nominee for the court would be confirmed without great difficulty no matter how they framed the issues during the confirmation process.

SenatorJeff Sessions, of Alabama, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, has said he would not necessarily be opposed to a nominee who is gay or an abortion rights advocate. In a recent interview, Mr. Sessions made it clear that whatever his preferences for resistance on the nominee, he could count the numbers.

* * * *
A second top Republican Senate aide, also not connected to Mr. Sessions, said, referring to Mr. Obama, “Elections have consequences; he won.” “Obviously, we’re going to stand up for our principles,” the aide continued, “but the other side has won this right to choose someone this time.”

If You Think Jackson Hasn't Changed Since the 60s . . .

If you think "nothing much has changed" in Jackson, Mississippi since the 1960s, check this out. From the website of Howard University School of Law in Washington DC, here is the short biography of Chokwe Lumumba, Councilman-Elect of Jackson, Mississippi (as submitted by Mr. Lumumba's law firm):

Chokwe Lumumba is the National Chair and a co-founder of the New Afrikan People’s Organization (N.A.P.O.). He has served as NAPO’s chairperson since its inception in 1984 having been re-elected to the position in 2004. As national chair of the organization, Lumumba now resides in Jackson, Mississippi. Lumumba was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan.

Lumumba’s leadership helped NAPO to establish an office and organizational presence in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1989. Lumumba has been in the leadership of campaigns in Jackson against police terror, and has joined with others to stop the Ku Klux Klan march planned for Jackson in April of 1990.

Lumumba is co-founder and a member of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and was an officer and co-founder of the Jackson Human Rights Coalition. He served as the Vice-Chair of the Grassroots Convention in Jackson, Mississippi in 1994.

As a member of NAPO, Lumumba has led and/or participated in the organization’s community youth programs, anti-crime patrols, political education forums, legal service clinics, and various other community service activities. He has also partaken in political action campaigns against racist institutions, the U.S. bombing of Libya, and many other acts of economic exploitation, racism, and international lawlessness.

In July of 1969, Chokwe Lumumba became a conscious citizen of the New Afrikan nation in North America, and a legionnaire in the Black Legion of the Republic of New Afrika. He served as acting President and Vice President of the Republic of New Afrika.

* * * *
In September of 2005, Chokwe Lumumba co-founded the Mississippi Disaster Relief Coalition (MS-DRC) in response to Hurricane Katrina and assisted in the distribution of tons of material aid to Katrina survivors. He serves as the coordinator of MS-DRC and as a member of the Interim Coordinating Committee of the Peoples Hurricane Relief Fund, Oversight Coalition. He also serves on the coordinating committee of the Black Activist Coalition on Katrina.

He was the co-coordinator and co-organizer of the December 8–9, 2005 From Outrage to Action Conference in Jackson, which was attended by about 600 Katrina survivors and/or supporters, and of the December 10, 2005, Right to Return March on New Orleans which drew about 5,000 participants.

Brother Chokwe has not only pursued and protected human rights on the streets, but he has championed the same in the courts. Chokwe is an Attorney at Law. He graduated with honors from Wayne State University Law School in 1975 after finishing first in his freshman law class in 1973-74. Lumumba initially entered law school at Wayne State University in the fall of 1969 before leaving to work full time for the RNA in Mississippi and Detroit.

* * * *

In the early and mid 1990’s, Lumumba won a string of major victories in Mississippi Courts. He won an acquittal for DeWayne Boyd, a New Afrikan (Black) land development activist who was framed on arson charges after discovering and reporting dishonest schemes by white farmers to control and profit from DeWayne’s family’s land in Starkville, Mississippi. He and Oxford, Mississippi, Attorney Gail Thompson defeated the attempts by the State of Mississippi to put John Buford Irving to death for the alleged murder of a white store owner in 1976, by winning Irving’s 1995 death penalty trial.

He won a not guilty verdict for a 13 year old New Afrikan Youth, Elliot Culp, on May 10, 1996. Culp was charged with robbing and killing a 64 year old white woman. He was the youngest person ever tried on capital murder charges in Mississippi.

* * * *
Lumumba is a member of the National Conference of Black Lawyers. He also practices law in Michigan as of Counsel to Jeffrey Edison. From April 1991 until October 10, 2005 he practiced in Jackson, Mississippi.

I have some familiarity with the John Irving case discussed above. This was a truly remarkable victory. The all-white jury returned a unanimous life verdict for Mr. Irving, an African-American, for the homicide of a white store owner. The lesson: don't underestimate Mr. Lumumba's ability to persuade people of all races, classes and political persuasions. And don't underestimate his commitment It will make for an interesting term on the City Council.

"Ask your mayor."

The case of Sharrod Moore took a shocking turn yesterday. After having one of his assistants do the dirty work of dismissing the case against Mr. Moore, DA Robert Shuler Smith met with the media outside the courthouse and alleged that "certain officers and officials" engaged in a cover-up with respect to the killing of R.J. Washington. (WJTV story here; WLBT video here.)

This is not the first time DA Smith has alleged that a cover-up was hindering his investigation. He told the Jackson Free Press almost the same thing nearly one year ago. The key difference this time is Smith's use of the word officials when assigning blame.

I remember how odd the indictment of Sharrod Moore seemed at the time, back in January of 2008. Mayor Melton's appearance before the television cameras to announce the indictment felt weird enough, considering Melton was the mayor, not the District Attorney, police chief, sheriff, etc. Furthermore, Melton was so excited about the indictment that he held the press conference before Moore was in custody, a seeming violation of Section 99-7-9, which prohibits publicity of indictments when the indicted person is not in custody.

The bone-chilling moment came, though, when Moore was being escorted through the tunnel between the Hinds County Circuit Courthouse and the Downtown Detention Facility. When asked by one of the handful of reporters following him why he was being indicted now, Mr. Moore simply replied, "Ask your mayor."

As the case progressed, things became even more surreal. First, DA Smith met secretly on several occasions with accused capital murderer Stephan Hickman and took a sworn statement from him, all without the knowledge of Hickman's counsel. Then, DA Smith saw fit to release the transcript of the statement into the public record by attaching it to a motion. The transcript tells a wild, detailed story, in which Melton is the "Prince" of the Jackson drug trade, and Sharrod is the "Knight." Both are supposedly controlled by an unnamed figure called "the Pharoah." According to Hickman, Sharrod was to make quarterly payments to Melton. Hickman goes on to tell a version of events in which Melton, Moore, and Washington are engaged in, umm...inappropriate activities. According to Hickman, Melton ordered Moore to kill Washington so as to show Moore's loyalty to Melton.

Hickman's story has largely been proven false, at least with respect to the particulars of who was present at the time of the killing of R.J. Washington. But one has to wonder, to what extent, if any, is DA Smith now looking at the deceased Melton as a player in this ordeal? After all, the word "officials" is new, and connotes some person or persons other than JPD officers.

A brief follow-up to Justin's question in comments

Yesterday, in the comments to Part 5 of the posts on the Sharrod Moore hearing, "Justin" wondered whether or not Robert Shuler Smith was in another courtroom at the time of the hearing. Several media outlets have picked this up and run with it:

From Jimmie Gates' story in today's Clarion-Ledger:

District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith, who had led the effort to prosecute the case, didn't attend the hearing and was said to have been in another courtroom at the time.

"He should have been here," Yerger said.

From Donna Ladd's blurb at

District Attorney Robert S. Smith was absent again when Hinds County Circuit Judge Swan Yerger dropped murder charges against Sharrod Moore in the 1995 killing of Jackson Police Officer Robert J. Washington.
It turns out that the DA was outside, as can be seen in an explosive video from WLBT I just found and will post about.

Some Keen Insights Into the Mayoral Runoff

Kingfish at Jackson Jambalaya has posted two excellent analyses of Tuesday's Democratic primary run-off. They are here and here.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Liveblogging the Sharrod Moore dismissal hearing, Part 5

Judge Yerger says "Robert Shuler Smith is not here. Should be here, but we have been advised that he is in another courtroom."

ADA Jamie McBride:

Terrible, terrible event that happened long ago. In Jan. 2008, police announced new evidence. Weapons in this case never found. Witness who gave testimony to grand jury was later found not to be credible. Another witness, Howard Hackett also came forward, and swore to the grand jury that Sharrod confessed to him and gave him the gun used in the killing. Hackett later used that gun in a carjacking. Ballistics tests matched the gun Hackett used to the killing of Washington.

DNA test results recently received show no other DNA besides that of Washington on Washington's body.
105 fingerprints were taken from Washington's police cruiser. No match to Moore.

Hackett, subsequent to his testimony to the grand jury, took the stand in another criminal case sand began to recant his earlier statements in that case. Hackett has also been charged in a new case.

The only direct evidence tying this defendant to this crime is Howard Hackett, who is unreliable. It would be unethical for us to proceed.

McBride then concludes by asking for a nolle pros one second, and permission to dismiss the next. Don't know which it will be.

Chuck Mullins (counsel for Moore):

Big of the State to get up here the week before the trial and admit they didn't have a case, especially considering the high-profile nature of it.

Court to take matter of dismissal with or without prejudice under advisement for a few days and rule later this week.

Mary Washington (R.J. Washington's widow) does not wish to give a statement, per ADA McBride.

Judge Yerger: Parties will file simultaneous briefs on issue of whether dismissal should be with or without prejudice at the end of the week.

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Liveblogging the Sharrod Moore dismissal hearing, Part 4

Bench conference lasted a total of 25 minutes. Chuck Mullins appeared very animated during much of it.

Appears as though we're about to find out why.
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Liveblogging the Sharrod Moore dismissal hearing, Part 3

Court's in session. Yerger calls counsel to the bench. Lengthy bench conference ensues. Unfortunately, nearly every hearing in this case has been conducted as a lengthy bench conference, and I'm afraid that may be what's about to happen here.
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Liveblogging the Sharrod Moore dismissal hearing, Part 2

More spectators now in the gallery. Fully half of the active criminal defense practitioners in Hinds County are here.

RJ Washington's widow is now here, sitting alone. It's 9:55 a.m., and we still have not started.

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Liveblogging the Sharrod Moore dismissal hearing

Impressive crowd today in Yerger's courtroom. Inside the bar, we have 4 bailiffs, a probation officer, Sharrod, his attorneys Lula Anderson and Chuck Mullins, ADA Jamie McBride, and Dora Dixon, Robert Shuler Smith's personal secretary.

Out here in the gallery, we've got 5 or so friends and family of Sharrod, 7 members of the local bar, Jimmie Gates, Megan West, Ross Adams, and a TV camera in the balcony.

Robert Shuler Smith is not here.

More to come when we actually get started.
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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Congrats to Mayor Johnson

Harvey Johnson won the Democratic mayoral primary in resounding fashion tonight. He'll be our next mayor, and he'll need our support. I didn't back him in this race, but I am giving him my full support going forward. I hope that you'll do the same and that we can move forward together towards a better Jackson.
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Congratulations to Harvey Johnson for winning the Democratic primary this evening, and to his supporters for their campaign.

Congratulations, Secretary Mabus!

WAPT is reporting that former Gov. Ray Mabus has been confirmed as United States Secretary of the Navy.

Congratulations to Secretary Mabus -- we're proud of you!

Tuesday Morning Random Collection of Thoughts

Good morning, and happy Election Day. I've been tied up with work through the weekend, so I haven't been able to post. I'm slammed today as well, but thought it best to throw a couple of things out there as a sign of life.

First, I'm voting for Marshand, and mostly for the same reasons Jim expressed. Jim and I did not talk about the race prior to his post, and I'm glad we both wound up on the same side. First and foremost for me is Downtown development, and I feel more comfortable with Marshand leading that charge. Right behind that is Two Lakes. I'm an unabashed fan, and even though Harvey's past rhetoric on the subject indicates a willingness to support Two Lakes, his language at last week's debate indicates he's not quite made up his mind on which flood control project he supports. That, of course, means more studies, with which Harvey is well-acquainted.

That leads me to a brief Two Lakes rant: Yesterday evening, I was able to spend some time on the roof of my building downtown with a couple of friends. Looking out over the skyline of Jackson, my friend Tye pulled up pictures of the 1979 flood on his iPhone. The three of us on the roof last night are in our early 30's, so we're too young to have experienced the flood firsthand. But with our bird's eye view of Jackson and arial pictures of the disaster, the three of us came away with a new appreciation for how destructive the Pearl River can be. (Click here for a collection of arial photos of the '79 flood.) It also impressed upon me that the refusal to control and utilize the Pearl River has been one of Jackson's greatest failures.

We've known for 30 years how destructive the Pearl can be, and we've done little but build inadequate levees. We've also known for nearly 200 years that we have a river running through the middle of our capital city, and we've done nothing at all to harness the economic power of it. Economic power that would, in time, pave our streets, educate our children, and lower crime. Generation after generation of Jacksonians have proven unable to find the time and willpower to cultivate Jackson's greatest natural resource. It's time to move forward on development of the Pearl River and transform the future of Mississippi's most important city.

Also, there's a hearing tomorrow before Judge Yerger in the Sharrod Moore case. Here's what I've noticed as odd: First, Asst. DA Jamie McBride is making all of the comments to the press on this one. Previously, Robert Shuler Smith, the DA, uttered every word. Second, there will be a hearing tomorrow on the dismissal, so the State can put on the record its reasons for ditching the prosecution.

With respect to ADA McBride now doing all of the talking, well, there's an old maxim that fits this like a glove: Victory has a hundred fathers, but defeat is an orphan. DA Smith wants as far away from this as possible, as he is going to catch a great deal of bad press for indicting this case and not following through.

As for the hearing, the fact that there will be one at all is interesting to me. Cases are dismissed and orders of nolle prosequi are entered all the time without a hearing. I can't see any benefit for the DA's Office in having a hearing on the dismissal, as it simply puts the matter out there for another news cycle. My guess is Judge Yerger is requiring the hearing. That makes sense, as this is the case that led to a show cause hearing for Judge Yerger's court administrator, at which she was threatened with indictment and DA Smith sought recusal of Judge Yerger for what he perceived to be bias towards the defense. I think Judge Yerger essentially wants the State to step forward and put on the record that they're dismissing this case because they have serious problems with the evidence, not because Judge Yerger's being unfair to them. And, like getting read and delivery receipts on every email you send, that's a prudent move.

I'll discuss the timing of the dismissal in a later post.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Voting For Mayor

Like most of the people I have spoken or corresponded with on the issue, I have had a difficult time deciding how to cast my vote for Mayor of Jackson. I do not see either of the Democratic candidates as a disaster; nor do I see either one as a savior.

The two men have far more in common than their partisans will admit. The JFP's excellent analysis of the two candidates is worth your time; the Clarion-Ledger's Sunday piece is also helpful.

I detest the caricatures that have been cast like stones in this campaign (and plastered on my car): Marshand Crisler as the tool of business interests, who will favor the white community, and Harvey Johnson as overly race-conscious, who will favor the African-American community.

In my opinion, both men are Democrats in the national sense of the word -- they plan to govern as liberals (meaning they believe in the power of government to lead problem-solving in the community) but from a pro-economic development, pro-law enforcement perspective.

I previously posted my basic thoughts about the Johnson/Crisler runoff; I will not repeat myself here. I will simply state the two central reasons why my vote in the run-off is for Marshand Crisler (Of course, I don't speak for Matt or any other resident or visitor in my World).

First, Councilman Crisler seems more willing than Mayor Johnson to approach law enforcement from a consolidated, county/city model. He may not re-appoint Sheriff McMillin as police chief, but he will certainly require the JPD to work with the Hinds County Sheriff's Office to minimize turf conflict and duplicative efforts and secure the most efficient, effective crime prevention program for the City. Given Robert Johnson's endorsement, one wonders if the former Chief might be re-appointed to that post in a Crisler Administration; that would be a welcome move.

Second, Crisler is more likely to maintain the momentum for business and economic development in the City. Harvey Johnson can rightly take credit for the Convention Center complex. But government projects can only initiate economic development; to complete the job, the private sector must be engaged and motivated. That's the secret of every national Democrat's success, from Wilson through FDR, JFK, LBJ, and Clinton, and it's the model of the Obama Administration (Geithner-haters notwithstanding).

The small number of non-residential permits granted during the Johnson Administration, as compared to the Melton term (an eight-fold increase), is an objective indicator of Mr. Johnson's lack of appreciation of the role of the business community in building Jackson. And it's clear that the business community returns the favor.

One other point: some have said that Crisler will be "Frank, the Sequel." The question whether Deputy Crisler's "took a bullet" encounter actually happened during an invalid house raid is fodder for those concerns. See the posts on Jackson Jambalaya, which first brought these issues to light. But it's worth noting that Crisler was 25 years old then, a relatively new deputy, and unlike others in his unit, was not charged with wrongdoing at the time.

And unlike the late Mayor, Marshand Crisler has experience in local government, both as a Councilman and in the Sheriff's Office. Frank Melton, all too often, thought running government was like running a medium-sized business -- the top gun gives the orders and watches as the squad obeys. Crisler has been overseeing city government for eight years and knows better than that.

My vote is for Marshand Crisler. I hope he prevails in the runoff and in the general election. But I won't be upset if Harvey Johnson is the victor instead. Even if this is the "As Good As It Gets" election, Jackson will take great strides forward under either Democrat.

Memo to Northside Sun: The DOJ Did Not Cause Segregation

It's fascinating to live in the South during the Post-Civil Rights Era. There are lots of complicated issues about how to turn rhetoric into reality. But the process is delayed by self-serving "leaders" on both sides of the racial divide.

posted previously about the Jackson Advocate piece written by Rep. Jim Evans, in which two of the late Mayor's opponents were characterized in a stereotyped, derogatory way to suggest that they weren't independent-minded African-Americans but rather "slaves" picked by "the Capitol Street gang."

Now we have Wyatt Emmerich at the Northside Sun, re-writing history on route to endorsing Councilman Crisler. The Sun's
editorial says, in part:

One of the great tragedies of Jackson and the Delta is that integration has failed. Whites go to private schools and blacks go to public schools. Sadly, this was partially caused by an ideological federal justice department that shut down successfully integrated neighborhood schools.

Puh-lease. Would this have been the Nixon Administration Justice Department? Yes, it was, in 1970.

Would this have been after the State of Mississippi's lawyers filibustered for so long that the US Supreme Court, in Alexander v. Holmes County Board of Education, said that the time for "deliberate speed" was over and the schools had to be integrated that January? Yep.

Would this have been 94 years after the 1876 debacle that destroyed Reconstruction and delayed racial healing in this country? Yes.

There was no "ideological" Justice Department, Mr. Emmerich. Only one that had to do something because the responsible officials did nothing -- or worse.

But at least the Sun had this to say about hopes for the future:

Mississippi has one great ace in the hole - the common Christian belief of both races.

Earth to Sun: not all Mississippians -- white or black -- are Christian. We can boast of a vibrant Jewish, Muslim, and Hindu presence in our community, not to mention Buddhists and those who doubt the spiritual realm altogether.

Maybe the Sun's editor should go back to promoting Esperanto as the universal language.

Horhn, Crisler Agree: No Offer to Endorse in Exchange for Paying Debts

The Jackson Free Press is reporting the response of both Sen. John Horhn and Councilman Marshand Crisler to the flyer that was stuck on my (and many others, I presume) car yesterday:

"I was approached by both campaigns and actively approached by the Crisler campaign," Horhn told the Jackson Free Press. "A number of offers were made by the Crisler campaign, some of which were quite lucrative. ... The fact of the matter is that the Crisler campaign fell all over itself trying to recruit me to their campaign with promises of elimination of my campaign debt and a few other things. And for them to suggest otherwise is absolutely ludicrous. They put the money on the table. The Johnson campaign has no money."

Also according to the JFP story, Councilman Crisler says the flyer is false, and claims he did not approve the flyer:

At a press conference this morning, mayoral candidate Marshand Crisler denied allegations, made in two new fliers supporting his candidacy, that his opponent Harvey Johnson bought the endorsement of state Sen. John Horhn, a former mayoral candidate. When asked about the fliers, Crisler first responded, "I denounce any negative politics and that one in particular." When the JFP's Adam Lynch and Donna Ladd asked directly whether Horhn had ever offered to sell his endorsement, Crisler replied, "No."

I'm glad to hear it. Now I want to know who was behind the flyers.

Gee, Why Would They Do That?

From this morning's New York Times, a report on how prosecutors OPPOSE DNA testing:

"A recent analysis of 225 DNA exonerations by Brandon L. Garrett, a professor at the University of Virginia School of Law, found that prosecutors opposed DNA testing in almost one out of five cases. In many of the others, they initially opposed testing but ultimately agreed to it. In 98 of those 225 cases, the DNA test identified the real culprit."

The story is here:

My two cents: the rule that "the ethical duty of the prosecutor is to seek, justice, not convictions" is honored more in the breach than the observance.  Why would a prosecutor oppose a DNA test?  If the defendant or prisoner is guilty, the test will prove that.  If he or she is innocent, justice demands their release.

I think the adversarial system of justice is fun.  But sometimes, it doesn't serve our society's interests or values very well.  When prosecutors give in to the human desire to "win" every case, we all end up as losers.


Horhn For Rent?

I was annoyed as hell to see two soaked pieces of paper leaking ink onto the Miata in the Fondren Presbyterian parking lot yesterday.  They were both from the Crisler campaign.  Having yet to decide whether to post a preference in the Mayoral race, I was seriously tempted to endorse Johnson.  That became more likely when I perused the comically adolescent "SS Harvey Johnson" hit piece.

But I became less upset when I read the second weather-beaten sheet.  It claimed that Sen John Horhn's campaign had initiated feelers to both of the run-off candidates, if they would assist him in raising sufficient funds to pay off his campaign debt.

Now, such deals are not uncommon.  Hillary Clinton did the same when she withdrew from the presidential race.  But given the active role Senator Horhn has taken in the runoff campaign, it is a fair question whether his assertions about Harvey Johnson are sincere.

But I'm still upset about the ink on my car.

Friday, May 15, 2009

State asks to dismiss case against Sharrod Moore

All I'll say right now is that this certainly is interesting timing. More to come...
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Stay Tuned . . .

Matt must be as jammed by work today as I am. Watch for more in this space later today!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Liveblogging the Jackson Democratic Mayoral Debate, Part 5

The candidates are taking a break, and frankly, I am as well. I'm a touch too irritated to continue typing. I learned long ago to hold my tongue when I get this mad.
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Liveblogging the Jackson Democratic Mayoral Debate, Part 4

While I was a little shocked by Johnson's claim that there hadn't been any promotions at JPD in the last 4 years, I was absolutely stunned at what I heard from Johnson just now. Johnson just essentially said that the white people accusing him of not being responsive to their concerns during his 8 years as mayor are quite possibly racist.

Crisler's response was a fairly well constructed call to a post-racial Jackson and a colorblind approach to governance, which sounded like something someone reading from the Obama playbook would say.

Johnson moves on to attack Crisler for supporting the recent 1% sales tax increase, which was something championed by business interests, and authored by Sen. John Horhn, if I recall correctly. That being said, it's becoming more and more clear that Johnson and the Jackson business community have differences over policy, not race, and that each may be engaging in a bit of that old Mississippi past time: race-baiting.

I am in no way amused.
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Liveblogging the Jackson Democratic Mayoral Debate, Part 3

Simmons asks Crisler if he'd slash the number of "in office" JPD employees and in turn increase the number of patrolmen. Crisler takes the opportunity to get a dig in at Johnson's failure to implement the Maple Linder recommendations.

Johnson responds by saying that Crisler was head of the Council's budget committee during the past 4 years, when the number of patrolmen dropped. Johnson then makes an interesting claim. He says that there were no promotions within the Jackson Police and Fire Departments since he was in office. Having had quite extensive experience with JPD over the past couple of years, I have to say this: I think he's flat wrong, and I was a little shocked to hear that.

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Liveblogging the Jackson Democratic Mayoral Debate, Part 2

The two candidates are now on the stage. Crisler looked young and confident as he approached his lectern, Johnson looked old and wise. That's really going to be a theme throughout this race, I think.

Crisler gives his opening statement first, focusing on his energy and desire to "move Jackson forward." Johnson then claims credit (to some degree, correctly) for the projects we have seen come to fruition over the last 4 years.

First question is about Two Lakes, a project I care deeply about. Crisler voices his strong support for Two Lakes. Johnson says he's in favor of economic development along the Pearl River, but doesn't say exactly what type of project he'd like to see happen.

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Liveblogging the Jackson Democratic Mayoral Debate

A friend of mine suggested that I blog from tonight's debate. Sounded like a good idea to me, so I'll give it a shot.

Scott Simmons from WAPT just advised the crowd that the debate will start in approximately 7 minutes.
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Now Dick Cheney Wants Transparency? (Return to the House of Hypocrisy)

Oh, now I understand: Dick Cheney thinks that national security requires secrecy . . . except if it might help him make a rhetorical point. The Washington Post reports:

The CIA has rejected a request from former vice president Richard B. Cheney to release documents that he says show that the agency's harsh interrogation methods helped thwart terrorist plots.

A letter today denying the request cites pending legal action as the sole reason for keeping the documents under seal.

* * * *
Cheney, who has sparred publicly with the Obama administration since it prohibited coercive interrogations in January, submitted a formal request to the National Archives and Records Administration on March 31, asking for the declassification of two secret documents that were said to describe the intelligence gained from the CIA's questioning of suspected al-Qaeda terrorists in overseas prisons.

Cheney, in a Fox News interview last month, said the documents "lay out what we learned from the interrogation process" and would presumably validate Bush administration claims that the controversial methods disrupted terrorists' plans and saved American lives.

Recall that as Vice-President, Cheney didn't even think he was required to give the Information Security Oversight Office data on how much material from his own files he had designated as "classified." (Something in the nature of a privilege log). That is, he not only kept his own documents secret, he wouldn't even say how many documents he was withholding from public view.

And Vice President Cheney also famously refused to disclose information about his meetings on energy policy with executives at the now-infamous Enron. See TIME story

But now, the necessity of preserving his reputation -- oops, I mean, the nation -- has made Dick Cheney a fighter for transparency in government.

Can't anybody shut this guy up?

Secretary-Designate Mabus Clears One Hurdle

From the Navy Times this morning:

The Senate Armed Services Committee recommended Thursday that the full Senate vote to approve the nominations of Navy Secretary-designate Ray Mabus, Navy Undersecretary-designate Robert Work and other nominees for civilian Pentagon posts.

Mabus and Work’s nominations were part of a group approved by voice vote, according to a committee announcement. It wasn’t clear how long it could be before the full Senate votes on whether to confirm the nominees.

Congratulations to Ray Mabus -- and on to the Senate!

h/t to Dorsey Carson (via Facebook)

Anyone know the statute for this?

(Click to enlarge.)

I'm thinking it's either 97-3-53 or 97-1-5, but I'm just guessing.

Jackson Mayoral Democratic Runoff Debate is tonight

Tonight at 7:00 p.m., Harvey Johnson and Marshand Crisler will take the stage at JSU's Rose McCoy Auditorium for a one-hour debate. Admission is free and on a first-come, first-served basis. Doors open at 6 p.m., and the organizers of the debate ask that you be seated by 6:40 p.m., as the debate will be televised live starting promptly at 7:00 p.m.

The debate will be broadcast on TV on JSU's TV23 (Comcast channel 14), and WAPT’s digital channel 16-2 (208 on Comcast). You can also listen to a live feed of the debate at,, and, and on the radio on WJSU 88.5.

After the debate, there are two social functions worth attending: The Debate Afterparty will be at Tye's (120 N. Congress in Downtown), with live music by Homespun. Also, JFP will be hosting their "JFP Lounge" at Pi (Sal & Mookie's in Fondren).

If you're a Jackson voter, this is your chance to learn more about Crisler and Johnson. And if you live in the Jackson area, this is a great opportunity to get out and socialize with other plugged-in, thoughtful people like yourself.

Why Won't the Feds Let the Fat Lady Sing for Ricio?

The Clarion-Ledger is reporting that the Government has announced it will go forward in the "sledgehammer" case against Michael Ricio alone. That makes no sense to me.

Let's face facts: Ricio was only indicted in the hope that he would "flip" and testify against Mayor Melton. He was acquitted in State court and there's no point to be gained in a stand-alone trial against him. The only reason I can see for going forward is for DOJ to save face. That's not good enough.

Let's hope the "Fat Lady" sings for Ricio this week. This case needs to be over.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The "As Good As It Gets" Election

Jackson mayor foes win endorsements (Clarion-Ledger, May 13, 2009)

So what now, Jackson? Former Jackson Police Chief and Mississippi Commissioner of Corrections endorses Marshand Crisler; State Senator John Horhn endorses Harvey Johnson.

I admit to some ambivalence at this stage. My main concern in the first primary was to prevent Mayor Melton from being re-elected. That was doubly accomplished on Election Night. As I see it, Harvey Johnson is well versed in the analysis of municipal government. He has studied, taught and consulted on urban planning throughout his career. He served two terms as Mayor and began several projects (Convention Center, Telecommunications Center) that are just now coming to fruition. My gut tells me that he's more able to call his own shots than Councilman Crisler.

But while Harvey Johnson knows urban government in theory, he was less than artful in practice in his previous terms. His relationships with the Legislature and other metro-area mayors were strained. His own former police chief, Robert Johnson, has endorsed his opponent.

Jackson is not a self-sufficient island. Can Harvey Johnson build the support we need to lead the City forward?

Marshand Crisler is young, assertive, and obviously connected to law enforcement and the business community. The endorsement of both Sheriff McMillin and former Chief Johnson speaks volumes in his favor. Also, the consolidation of city and county law enforcement, which Crisler supports by way of re-appointing McMillin to be Chief of JPD, may be a far more efficient and effective means for addressing municipal crime. Further, Crisler is the only former City Council member to run for Mayor; that is an experience that may bring a politics of consensus-building to city government that has been sorely lacking in recent years.

But one wonders about the slightly too "well-prepared" Crisler. Does he speak his own mind, or is he a little too "connected" to business and law enforcement interests? And Kingfish at Jackson Jambalaya has raised some critical questions
here and here that have yet, in my opinion, to be put to rest. We've suffered one "Lone Ranger" Mayor; would a Mayor Crisler follow the Constitution even when it's inconvenient to do so?

It's not an easy choice. The pay rate for Jackson's CEO can't be expected to draw out the "Best and the Brightest" -- and the job is a political graveyard, not a stepping-stone to higher office. So, to steal Jack Nicholson's line, this choice is "As Good As It Gets."

We have a week to decide . . .

Where's Waldo?

I promised Kingfish at Jackson Jambalaya an Irby post. This isn't the one I'd promised.

I just took a look at the indictment, and found an error. Any guesses as to what it is?

Morning Mobile Blogging

It's a busy morning for me as I prepare for a hearing, so there won't be much blog activity until later today. Here are a few tidbits this morning:

It's possible to blog from your BlackBerry if you use Blogger, like Jim and I do for this site. If you're interested, go to the Settings page on your Blogger Dashboard, then setup the "email blogging" feature. Then just email your entries to that email address from your BlackBerry.

The Bennett & Bennett criminal defense firm out of Houston, TX, has an excellent legal blog. I highly recommend it, especially if you do criminal defense. The address is

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

22 years is a long time

The Innocence Project has a new victory to celebrate: Paul House, convicted and sentenced to death in 1986, has had all charges against him dropped.

"In the three years since the U.S. Supreme Court stepped into this case and sent it back to the trial court, substantial additional DNA testing and further investigation have shown that he is innocent," said Peter Neufeld, the group's co-director. "Each time a layer of this case was peeled away, it revealed more evidence of Paul House's innocence."
Major kudos to the Innocence Project, and a h/t to Glenna & Graham for passing this on.

The New York Times raises some important questions about how we ask questions

Now here's a NYTimes piece every judge, trial lawyer, detective, and P.I. ought to find very, very interesting: Judging Honesty by Words, Not Fidgets.

Here's what's intriguing, and what ought to be seriously considered here in the States:

One broad, straightforward principle has changed police work in Britain: seek information, not a confession. In the mid-1980s, following cases of false confessions, British courts prohibited officers from using some aggressive techniques, like lying about evidence to provoke suspects, and required that interrogations be taped.

Dr. (Ray) Bull (a professor of forensic psychology), who has analyzed scores of interrogation tapes, said the police had reported no drop-off in the number of confessions, nor major miscarriages of justice arising from false confessions. In one 2002 survey, researchers in Sweden found that less-confrontational interrogations were associated with a higher likelihood of confession. (Emphasis added.)
Folks, there's absolutely no reason we shouldn't explore and use the best investigative techniques available. (I'm looking at you, JPD Homicide detectives. Record all of your interviews.) Doing so achieves two societal goals: guilty people behind bars, and innocent ones on the street.

h/t to my old pal lotus.

It's Jim Craig's World, I just live in it

I've decided to take the plunge. I want to thank Jim for asking me to be a part of his blog, and I look forward to the opportunity to post alongside him.

One of my main concerns about blogging has always been my fear of overstepping ethical bounds in discussing cases. Tom Freeland at has provided what I believe to be a good example of how to avoid doing so. In keeping with his practice, I'll never comment on one of my cases here. I will also refrain from opining on people who may be witnesses in any of my pending cases. That means no discussion, from me, regarding Dr. Steven Hayne. My posting regarding Hayne will be limited to mere links to articles written by others. Y'all can still talk about him all you want.

That being said, let's rock this.

If At First You Don't Secede . . . (Part III, the "Lily Whites")

This Sunday, the Clarion-Ledger interviewed Wirt Yerger in its "Sunday Morning With" series. You can find it here.

One part of the interview with the senior Mr. Yerger caught the attention of one of my readers:

Question: For our younger readers, explain the conflicts between the "Lily Whites" and "Black-and-tan" factions of the GOP back in the 1960s.

Answer: In the first place, we weren't the "Lily Whites." I came into it after a lot of those battles had been fought. In 1956, it was all over and the "Black-and-Tans" had in large part faded away. Essentially, Mississippi had a puppet party controlled by interests in Washington, D.C., with no discernable purpose in helping advance policies in Mississippi. I understand a lot of people wanted to make race a defining issue for their own political purposes, but to me, principles have always been more important than race. I have always advocated a colorblind society. We need that badly still.

The problem, as my reader points out, is that a contemporaneous article in the Clarion-Ledger documents that the battle between the "Lily Whites" and the "Black and Tans" was still raging as late as December 1959.
In 1956 both factions of the Mississippi GOP sent representatives to the national convention. In the December 1959 C-L piece, Mr. Yerger himself was quoted in his role as state party chair and as a member of the "Lily Whites" on the national party's decision that year to allow Mississippi's 1960 convention delegates to be selected by the state party chair (again, Mr Yerger). He said then that the national GOP's ruling assured the "Lily Whites" of recognition as the true representatives of the Republican Party in Mississippi.
The December 1959 Clarion-Ledger article is here.

If your eyes are better than mine, you can see it above.

Why should we care? Because the history of a group sets the course for the group's development and future. It's especially important because the leadership of the Mississippi Republican Party and its officeholders puts a high premium on the concept of "party loyalty." A long-time member of the State GOP has a lot better chance of being nominated for leadership than does a recent convert. Kirk Fordice and Haley Barbour are the most recent, obvious, examples.

There's no need to witch-hunt: a lot of people made bad decisions in the 1950s and 1960s. But truth is never a bad thing, and the Mississippi Republicans have certainly not "always advocated a colorblind society." Shame on the Clarion-Ledger for letting the Republicans get away with their revisionist history.

Dude, Where's My Intestines? Or My Liver?

Just when you thought it couldn't get any weirder . . . here's a story, courtesy of Matt Eichelberger (who else), about Dr. Stephen Hayne, an autopsy, and the discovery after exhumation of the corpse (in an examination also by Dr. Hayne), that all of the organs had been removed from the deceased before burial, and replaced by bedsheets . . .

Read more

I'm afraid I'm speechless on this one . . . except to say, if it's a crime for a funeral home to fail to dispose of ashes after a cremation (see here), shouldn't it be a crime to remove organs before burial and replace them with bedsheets?

If At First You Don't Secede . . . (Part II)

I previously discussed the buzz surrounding Texas Governor Rick Perry's nod to the possibility that Texas could re-secede from the Union here

The Lone Star Looney has apparently touched a nerve: a number of state legislators have started to push "state's rights" resolutions asserting various powers under the Tenth Amendment. One list of the resolutions is collected by the "Tenth Amendment Center"

Gee, I wonder what is motivating these "conservative" legislators to pound their chests and bellow out their "state's rights" resolutions? It wouldn't be the fact that the President of the United States is . . . . well, you know, he's at least half . . . . um, yes. I don't think his race is a coincidence, do you?

But we don't need to send the Union Army (1861) or the National Guard (1962) to stop the re-secession crisis. All we need is for the United States Congress to pass the following legislation:

"No post-secondary educational institution shall be eligible to participate in NCAA Championship play in any sport, unless that institution is located in the United States of America."

I bet that stops Georgia, Texas, and yes, Mississippi from talking this nonsense.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Could It Be . . . An Outbreak of Reason in the Magnolia State?

As we wait for voters in Jackson to choose their top two candidates for Mayor, and hopefully repudiate the Empire of Emotion (Imperius Irrationalus Infantus?) of the last four years, there is -- on a topic of interest in my World -- an outbreak of Reason in Attala County.

So check this out: the Star-Herald of Kosciusko, Mississippi reports that the Attala County Coroner, who as recently as Monday asked the Board of Supervisors to contract with Dr. Stephen Hayne to conduct autopsies in that county, has changed his mind.

From the Star-Herald story:

With no medical examiner or pathologist at the top of the state’s food chain, Attala County Coroner Sam Bell thought it was a good idea for the county to hiring Dr. Steve Hayne as the county’s pathologist. On Monday, he asked the Attala County Board of Supervisors to hire Hayne but has since changed his mind.

“It’s a lawsuit waiting to happen,” Bell said on Tuesday citing the fact that Hayne has been removed from the list of state approved pathologists.

For years, many counties had relied on Hayne to do autopsies. In August, Public Safety Commissioner Steve Simpson removed Hayne from a list of approved pathologists. Bell said he was contacted by Hayne less than a week ago and he was told that Hayne had been hired by 38 other counties.

* * * *

Hayne was removed from the designated list of pathologists after the New York-based Innocence Project had accused him of sloppy work and had filed a complaint with the state Board of Medical Licensure, calling on the board to strip him of his medical license. After examining the allegations, the Board of Medical Licensure sided with Hayne. Hayne is now suing Innocence Project officials for defamation.

Hayne also is being sued, along with Hattiesburg dentist Michael West, for their testimony about the 1992 rape and slaying of a 3-year-old girl that led to the death sentence for Kennedy Brewer. Brewer is suing the pair for $18 million. He was freed after spending 15 years in prison for a crime authorities now say DNA shows he did not commit. Another man has been charged with that crime.

Congratulations to Coroner Bell for his wise decision. It's past time for public officials in our State to make the smart decision before rights are violated, innocent people are imprisoned or executed, and family members are separated from their loved ones.

Thanks to Matt Eichelberger for the tip.

Voting Booth Surprise

One surprise I had when I entered the polling booth today: seven candidates for Hinds County Democratic Party Executive Committee were running unopposed for the seven positions on that board. You may recall that these were the folks who tried to oust Frank Melton from the primary as a "nonresident" of Jackson. It's a pity there wasn't an open election for those positions.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Weekend Zatapulse Survey

Zata 3 has released the results from its Zatapulse Survey taken on May 1, 2009:

Harvey Johnson 26%

Crisler 26%

Melton 18%

Horhn 11%

Fair 4%

Others 7%

Undecided 8%

The results from the Zata 3 and Clarion-Ledger polls are similar with respect to the order of candidate preference, and roughly speaking, the chasm between the top two "ABM" candidates and the rest. If these polls are anywhere near correct, the best chance to oust Mayor Melton in the first primary is to vote for either Harvey Johnson or Marshand Crisler on Tuesday. A vote for Horhn and Fair will decrease the results for the two leaders, and thereby give Mr. Melton a chance to catch up with one of them. In 25 years of casting votes here, I have learned that ANYTHING can happen in a second primary in Mississippi. We don't need to take that risk.