Monday, August 31, 2009

Baby, What a Big Surprise! (Not)

While the health care reform debate is still raging, we should take a look at the financial backers of the "Party of No." Take Mitch McConnell, for example. has compiled a list of the individuals and corporations that have contributed to the Senate Minority Leader's campaign committee and his leadership PAC (they do the same for all members of Congress).

In the 2010 election cycle, Sen. McConnell's leading contributor is . . . (drumroll please) Kindred Healthcare. Kindred was also McConnell's top supporter in the 2008 election cycle. Kindred describes itself as follows: "Kindred Healthcare through its subsidiaries operates long-term acute care hospitals, skilled nursing centers and a contract rehabilitation services business, Peoplefirst Rehabilitation Services, across the United States."

Kindred's disproportionate share of contributions is symptomatic of the outsized influence of health care and insurance special interests on the Senator's continued tenure. In the 2008 election cycle, Sen. McConnell's PAC received $590,835 from the health care industry. The insurance industry gave another $211,000.

Closer to home, Sen. Roger Wicker received $242,000 from health professionals, $170,200 from the insurance industry, and $75,550 from hospitals and nursing homes. That's a total of $487,750.

OpenSecrets doesn't have categories for "Americans with no health insurance because they lost their jobs," or "Americans with health insurance that has declined coverage when they needed it most." But somehow I suspect that Sen. McConnell and Sen. Wicker don't get nearly as much money from those folks . . .

Friday, August 28, 2009

Apparently innocent man executed in Texas 5 years ago

I don't really have anything more to add to what Rep. John Mayo said in his blog:

A Texas man was not only executed for a crime he did not commit but for an incident in which there was no crime at all. And, had the prosecutor, crime scene investigator, and fire marshall had any competence at all, two independent, one by the State of Texas which carried out the execution, studies concluded that they would have also reached that conclusion and the state would not have murdered an innocent man.

Every legislator in the state of Texas has blood on their hands. Doesn't matter if a mistake was made, someone was incompetent, or a jury reached that conclusion. I can't make a more stronger statement than to say,

"State legislators are directly responsible for the death of innocent men by allowing the death penalty to continue."

If the death of an innocent man is the price we endure for societal justice, I will stand before God on judgement day and tell the Almighty this is WRONG and suffer God's wrath.

Here's the article to which he responds.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Dr. Hayne, George Phillips, and the creative use of language for fun and profit

Several weeks ago, I had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Steven Hayne at length and in an informal setting as we both waited out a docket call in Hinds County. During that conversation, we covered several of the disagreements we've had in the past, including the much discussed American Board of Pathology certification exam and his claim to the title "Chief State Pathologist."

With respect to the "Chief State Pathologist" claim, here's a little background: Several years ago, Dr. Hayne began testifying that he was "the chief state pathologist." This caused many people heartburn, including me, because it appeared that he was claiming a title that didn't exist, all in an effort to make himself seem more qualified to jurors. In Mississippi, the death investigation structure is created by statute. Specifically, Chapter 61 of Title 41 of the Code of 1972, known by its title, the "Mississippi Medical Examiner Act of 1986." Section 41-61-55 reads as follows:

There is hereby created the position of State Medical Examiner, to be established as herein provided under the appointment by and supervision of the Commissioner of Public Safety.
Each applicant for the position of State Medical Examiner shall, as a minimum, be a physician who is eligible for a license to practice medicine in Mississippi and be certified in forensic pathology by the American Board of Pathology.
The State Medical Examiner may be removed by the commissioner only for inefficiency or other good cause, after written notice and a hearing complying with due process of law.

The statute goes on to create medical examiners, designated pathologists, county medical examiner investigators, etc. But no "Chief State Pathologist."

In response to my concerns about his use of the title "Chief State Pathologist," Hayne claimed to have a contract with the Department of Public Safety giving him that title. I asked for a copy. He obliged me today by faxing over the contract in question. Simply put, it's fascinating.

The contract, between Dr. Hayne and then-DPS Director George Phillips, does in fact name Hayne the "Chief State Pathologist." It also gives the Chief State Pathologist certain duties that mirror the duties of the State Medical Examiner, except that it relieves Hayne of rulemaking responsibilities.

Here's what the statute says:

41-61-63. Duties of State Medical Examiner; completion of death certificate; medical examiner not to favor particular funeral homes.

(1) The State Medical Examiner shall:

(a) Provide assistance, consultation and training to county medical examiners, county medical examiner investigators and law enforcement officials.

(b) Keep complete records of all relevant information concerning deaths or crimes requiring investigation by the medical examiners.

(c) Promulgate rules and regulations regarding the manner and techniques to be employed while conducting autopsies; the nature, character and extent of investigations to be made into deaths affecting the public interest to allow a medical examiner to render a full and complete analysis and report; the format and matters to be contained in all reports rendered by the medical examiners; and all other things necessary to carry out the purposes of Sections 41-61-51 through 41-61-79. The State Medical Examiner shall make such amendments to these rules and regulations as may be necessary. All medical examiners, coroners and law enforcement officers shall be subject to such rules.

(d) Cooperate with the crime detection and medical examiner laboratories authorized by Section 45-1-17, the University of Mississippi Medical Center, the Attorney General, law enforcement agencies, the courts and the State of Mississippi.

The contract tracts the language of subpart (1)(a), slightly modifies the language of (1)(b), omits (1)(c), reproduces (1)(d) in full, and then requires Hayne to do two other things. First, he is to train new county medical examiner investigators and deputy county medical examiner investigators, as is required of the State Medical Examiner in Section 41-61-57. Second, Hayne is required to "review appeals of death rulings, conduct investigations, review findings and report conclusions in writing with recommendations made to appropriate parties," all of which is required of the State Medical Examiner by statute.

You may ask yourself, "Why all of the machinations?" And the answer is that Hayne's not qualified to be State Medical Examiner. In the first code section quote above, you'll note that the State Medical Examiner has to be board certified in forensic pathology by the American Board of Pathology. Of course, Hayne isn't, because he didn't pass that exam.

In addition to the grammatical gymnastics performed to install Hayne as the de facto State Medical Examiner, George Phillips allowed Hayne to perform private autopsies at the State Crime Lab for the nominal fee of $100 a pop, a fee that seems to me to be quite generous to someone performing private work with and on public property.

There are other interesting tidbits in this contract, so I encourage you to review it for yourself. Thoughts?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Attorney Richard Carter works a HUGE deal on Attala County capital murder case

According to the Kosciusko Star-Herald, Robert Landfair pled guilty to accessory after the fact to commit robbery and conspiracy to commit armed robbery. He had been charged with capital murder, two counts of aggravated assault and conspiracy to commit armed robbery. Landfair was sentenced to 10 years in the penitentiary. He had been facing the death penalty.

Landfair was represented by Kosciusko attorney Richard Carter, who obviously did a mammoth job for his client. Landfair's three co-defendants are still facing trial in October on the capital murder, aggravated assault, and conspiracy charges.

Major kudos to Mr. Carter.

A Great Champion: Edward Kennedy, 1932-2009

Senator Edward Kennedy, D-MA, passed away last night.  Despite his flaws, he was a tireless champion of "the least of these" -- the poor and powerless of our society.  He will be greatly missed.

RIP, Sen. Ted Kennedy

Sen. Ted Kennedy passed away Tuesday night at the age of 77. He will be missed.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

New Katrina documentary by Jackson filmmaker on MPB tonight

Jackson-native and talented filmmaker Ed Ellington has a new documentary on Katrina and its effects on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. It'll be on MPB tonight at 9 CST. Here's an article on its Ocean Springs premiere last week from the Mississippi Press.

There's a viewing party at Hal & Mal's tonight starting at 8:30 on the patio. Y'all come on out.

Unfortunately, this is not a sick joke...

In a comment to Saturday's post regarding Jerry Mitchell's Clarion-Ledger piece on Dr. Hayne's possible return to the autopsy business, a reader asked if this was all a sick joke. It's not.

There's some room for hope, though, as the Holmes County Board of Supervisors did not meet Monday, and will not meet again until September 8th. I do not have an agenda for that meeting, so I'm not certain the regional medical examiner district will be on it.

Now, I guess the Private Santiago remark was a reference to this?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sen. Thad Cochran's replacement

Rumors are floating that U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran may decide to step down early in 2010. If that happens, Gov. Haley Barbour would have the opportunity to make the appointment. Any guesses as to who that would be?

Jerry Mitchell writes about Dr. Hayne's possible comeback

Jerry Mitchell's article in today's Clarion-Ledger covers the latest attempt by certain Mississippi coroners and prosecutors to resuscitate discredited pathologist Dr. Steven Hayne. Essentially, Yazoo County Coroner Jerry Shivers and Yazoo County DA James Powell are seeking to establish a "regional medical examiner district" that would hire Dr. Hayne to act as its pathologist. The Holmes County Board of Supervisors is set to vote Monday to join the district.

I rest assured that readers of this blog are very familiar with Dr. Hayne, and the reasons that the Department of Public Safety determined that Dr. Hayne would no longer be allowed to perform autopsies for the state. This attempt, if successful, would be a giant step backwards for our justice system. In effect, Yazoo, Humphreys, and Holmes County would be employing a man to perform work in a field in which he is not board certified, who refuses to follow standards, and whose testimony has been lambasted by our own Mississippi Supreme Court. And he would be working without supervision, in a lab that is not certified.

If any of you know anyone connected with the Holmes County supervisors, please contact them and ask them to refuse to join the district this Monday.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Rumblings about the open Hinds County Circuit Court seat

Here are the latest rumors:

1. Phillip Gunn has supposedly withdrawn his name from consideration. The rumor has it that he didn't want to take a pay cut. I certainly can't blame him for that.

2. Another jurist in Hinds County will be appointed to that seat, opening up room for Barbour to make another appointment. This judge has submitted his packet to the committee.

Backsliding Into the Bunker

The Clarion-Ledger report that Mayor Harvey Johnson, Jr. is requiring constituent requests for information to be processed through his office, to the exclusion of the City Council, is more than discouraging. It is early evidence that the Mayor is backsliding into the patterns of opacity that led to the City's rejection of his administration and the disastrous Melton years.

Look at what Candidate Harvey Johnson
told the Jackson Free Press just five months ago:

A reporter posed a similar question to me when I first left office: Would I have done anything differently? I said at the time that I would have done the same thing all over again, but after having stepped back from that experience, clearly there were some things that I did that I would have done differently. . . .

[T]here are general things dealing with accountability—Making sure government is accountable all the way up and down the line, not just in the mayor’s office or with department heads but all the way up and down the line. There are some things that I’ve learned both in and out of office that I’m ready and willing to put to practice as we move forward.

* * * *

One of those things that I have learned deals with the area of communications. We’re going to have to communicate with the public more effectively. We actually had ward meetings for six years, every month, throughout the city of Jackson, but if you talk to people, they still feel that my communication effort was not effective. . . . Not only do we want to make sure that we’re doing what’s right from a government standpoint by making ourselves accountable, but we want to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to help the media carry out its responsibility as well. . . . . Maybe the media felt that somehow I wasn’t as transparent as I needed to be, though I can’t be for sure.

Guess what, Mr. Mayor? Maybe the media doesn't "feel" that you aren't as transparent as you need to be. Maybe it's not about "perception."

Here's the cold, hard truth: your administration is already not as transparent as it needs to be.

That policy needs to be changed today.

I hope our friends at the Jackson Free Press join us on this point. Recall their important qualifiers to
their endorsement of Harvey Johnson in this year's election:

Johnson’s biggest problem was his relationship with the media. As we told him last week, “perception” isn’t his fault, but it is his problem. He agreed, and pledged to get out and build relationships, personally getting more involved with both constituent groups and with the media.
His other self-described problem as mayor was his administration’s accountability. . . .

* * * *

Johnson acknowledged that his previous administration could succumb to a bunker mentality. We say this now—if he’s elected mayor, we’ll be watching for that mentality, and we’ll criticize it at the first signs. Jackson needs to stay open, focused, entrepreneurial and effective.

Let's all work together and stop this Administration from backsliding into the bunker mentality.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Rock me all night long, ZZQ...

Storied Jackson radio station WZZQ is back, although you won't be able to find it on your radio dial. ZZQ is now an internet radio station, and today they've been playing a tribute to the late great Kelly Pates. I highly recommend tuning in and taking yourself back to the good old days of Jackson radio.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

WSJ: Economists Say Recession Is Over

From an unlikely source, The Wall Street Journal, this optimistic report that the Recession of 2008-09 is over:

Economists are nearly unanimous that Ben Bernanke should be reappointed to another term as Federal Reserve chairman, and they said there is a 71% chance that President Barack Obama will ask him to stay on, according to a survey.

Meanwhile, the majority of the economists The Wall Street Journal surveyed during the past few days said the recession that began in December 2007 is now over. Battling the downturn defined most of Mr. Bernanke's term, which began in early 2006 and expires in January, and economists say his handling of the crisis has earned him four more years as Fed chief.

Mississippi Supreme Court: Fairview Inn Restaurant Permit Illegal

The Mississippi Supreme Court today granted relief in an appeal filed by two lawyer-homeowners against the City of Jackson. Mark Modak-Truran, Professor of Law at Mississippi College School of Law, and Anita Modak-Truran, partner at the Butler Snow law firm and filmmaker, convinced the Court to reverse the trial court's ruling for the City. The Court held that the City's permit to the Fairview Inn for operating a restaurant was "spot zoning" that was not permissible. The decision does not change the use of the Fairview for special events or as a bed & breakfast.

The case raises interesting issues. Should a restaurant be located in a residential neighborhood like Belhaven, which is close to downtown? How much input thould the homeowners have?

Interestingly, the decision reversed former Circuit Judge Delaughter, who had rejected the recommendation of a Special Master he had appointed to consider the case.

Fairview Inn Case

Some Important Questions About Health Care Reform

Katha Pollitt at The Nation makes some great points in the Health Care Reform debate:

Whatever happened to, um, health? Wasn't that a big part of the original case for reform? The 46 million uninsured, the 20,000 people who die every year for lack of medical care, the studies showing that people without insurance get worse care than those with it, even after car crashes?

Where are all those people with infuriating stories of being denied essential care by insurance company bureaucrats, and those who thought they were covered when they weren't, and those who were hit with huge bills because of fine print in their contracts?

What about the people who can't quit their jobs because they need the insurance? The people who struggle and sacrifice to pay enormous premiums? The people who cut their pills in half to save money, or who can't afford them at all?

And what about doctors? My internist and gynecologist no longer even take private insurance because of the endless hassles and frustrations. Why don't we hear more about how fed up doctors are with the status quo?

Listening to the radio earlier this summer, I heard a 59-year-old nurse named Robin Batin testify in the most heart-rending way before the House subcommittee on oversight and investigations, chaired by Representative Bart Stupak. When she developed invasive breast cancer, her insurance company, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, rescinded her coverage because of a pre-existing condition--dermatitis--even though her dermatologist called to say it was acne, not, as the company claimed, a precancerous condition.

Stupak confronted the heads of Assurant Health, UnitedHealth and WellPoint with the fact that there are some 1,400 conditions that can be used to cancel a policy, most of them so minor and obscure that the executives had never heard of them. Between 2003 and 2007, the three companies saved $300 million by rescinding at least 19,776 policies. By the time Batin finally got her surgery, her tumor had doubled in size. The Congressmen were shocked--they had no idea. Neither did I. The program? This American Life. I love Ira Glass, but come on, people! "Rescission" should be a word on the tip of everyone's tongue by now.

The Fix Is In At The State Senate -- Again

September is something of a "pre-season" at the Mississippi State Legislature. The budget for FY 2011 will begin to be drafted, and legislators will begin thinking about bills to submit for the 2010 Regular Session. One of the most important topics on the agenda will be the beginning of the redistricting process for the State Legislative and Congressional districts.

That brings our attention once again to the Legislature. At the end of last session, Lt. Governor Bryant
appointed committees for the 2010 Session.

Here's the makeup of the committees governing redistricting:

Congressional Redistricting

Terry C. Burton, Chairman; Tommy Dickerson, Vice-Chairman

Members: Sidney Albritton; Hob Bryan; Eugene S. Clarke; Hillman Terome Frazier; Jack Gordon; Cindy Hyde-Smith; Walter Michel; T. O. Moffatt

Legislative Reapportionment

Terry C. Burton, Chairman; Tommy Dickerson, Vice-Chairman

Members: Sidney Albritton; Hob Bryan; Eugene S. Clarke; Hillman Terome Frazier; Jack Gordon; Cindy Hyde-Smith; Walter Michel; T. O. Moffatt

The notable fact is that there is only one African-American member of each committee (Senator Frazier), although the percentage of African-American legislators is over 25%.

Also, I think it's fair to say that many of the Democrats on these committees have been playing ball with the GOP Leadership (Dickerson, Hyde-Smith, and Gordon), and Hob Bryan, once a liberal stalwart, is also on the Bryant leadership team as Chair of the Health Committee.

So the game is on at the Capitol, once again. Forget about any kind of fair representation in the Senate's process -- which means that the Obama Justice Department will be giving strict scrutiny to any redistricting proposals that originate from the State Senate chamber.

It's long past time to consider a totally non-partisan approach to redistricting. The model is Iowa, which mandated such an approach in 1980. The website describes the Iowa model:

Under chapter 42 of the Iowa Code, enacted in 1980, the Iowa legislature has the final responsibility for enacting both congressional and state legislative district plans. However, the nonpartisan Legislative Services Bureau starts the process. The Bureau must develop up to three plans that can be accepted or rejected by the legislature. The four criteria for the Bureau's plans, in descending order of importance, are:

1 - population equality,

2 - contiguity,

3 - unity of counties and cities (maintaining county lines and “nesting” house districts within senate districts and senate districts within congressional districts),

and 4 - compactness.

Chapter 42 specifically forbids the use of political affiliation, previous election results, the addresses of incumbents, or any demographic information other than population in creating the redistricting proposals.

In order to make as much information as possible regarding the redistricting process available to the public, three public hearings are required to be held on the first proposed plan from the Legislative Service Bureau. Additionally, Iowans can request paper maps depicting proposed district lines from the Bureau.

A commission consisting of four civilian members chosen by each caucus in the legislature and a fifth chairperson, chosen by the commission itself, is responsible for advising the Bureau, but only upon the Bureau's request.

* * * *

Four out of Iowa's five new congressional districts are fairly evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, mirroring the state's overall makeup. Only the 5th district, which runs down the state's western border, has a solid majority of Republican voters.

That's pretty impressive to me.

Can Mississippi climb out of the partisan divide and re-district in a way that gives voters a real choice at the polls? Not if pols like Lt. Gov. Bryant keep stacking the deck.

So while the GOP is out pushing an initiative for the 2010 ballot on voter ID, why not add an Iowa-style neutral redistricting mandate to the mix?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Dear Diary....

According to a good source, former Rep. Chip Pickering held a fundraiser this evening for "David from C Street."

Really, Chip?

Thank You, Y'all Politics

Alan Lange at Y'all Politics has posted an apology for the "Childers to Israel" video that we criticized yesterday. Alan writes:

there was certainly no defamatory intent, and I sincerely apologize for its creation and inclusion on the site
I am impressed with Alan's decision, and take him at his word. Thanks to Y'all Politics for the guts and open mind Alan displayed in pulling the video.

Now we can go back to fighting over the merits of health care reform.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

This makes me smile...and want to throw the same time

My Rebels have made the cover of SI's College Football Preview edition, and are ranked SIXTH by SI going into the season. Hotty Toddy, but boy, this is a loooooong way to fall.

Over The Line In The Health Care Debate

It's the Summer of Discontent for those who want to stop health care reform. Town Hall meetings for Representatives and Senators have been hijacked by protesters who have shouted any real discussion of issues into silence. Town Halls have turned into violent confrontations across the country. Death threats even forced the cancellation of a Town Hall in Vancouver, Washington.

While Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, says that criticizing the protesters shows that Democrats "don't want a debate over the merits," he has it exactly backward. The Town Hall Crybabies aren't wanting to discuss merits -- they use scare tactics (like Sarah Palin's infamous misrepresentation that "death panels" would decide if some one's elderly family member would receive end-of-life care) and refuse to allow anyone to respond to them, most often by shouting "Just Say No" during the discussion.

As we now know, these protests are not some "grassroots" explosion against health care reform. Instead, it is a coordinated, strategic attempt by conservatives to frustrate discussion:
Town Hall Action Memo

"Americans for Prosperity," an anti-health care group that should really be called "Prosperous Americans for Themselves," is organizing a bus tour to take protestors across the country. The "Patients First" group contends:

"We don't want legislators to come between them and their doctor. The relationship that exists between doctors and patients is sacred and should not be interfered with."
Imagine that. I guess Prosperous Americans have never had to get their health care pre-cleared by their insurance company before going to the hospital.

At Y'all Politics, the focus has been on Rep. Travis Childers, who has yet to declare himself on the President's proposal. And this time YP has gone too far. The two-minute video attack on Rep. Childers' visit to Israel is -- yes, I will say it -- Anti-Semitic. What else do you call an ad that plays Jewish music in the background, tells the Representative to "get a souvenir yarmulke" on the trip and shows pictures of orthodox Jews juxtaposed with Americans at Town Hall meetings? (Note: I am attacking the ad, not the website or its owner.)

Sid Salter finds a "liberal double standard" at play in the criticism of the Town Hall Crybabies.

Sorry, folks. This is not just "protest." Lest we forget, disruption of public meetings was part of Hitler's original strategy to undermine democratic debate in Weimar Germany. That's exactly what the "Brown Shirts" were formed to do:

Hitler also organized the Stormtroopers (S.A. or the Brown Shirts) to protect the Nazi meetings and disrupt the meetings of other parties, for example, the Communist Party.
See full article here.

You want a full debate on the merits of health care reform? Let's have one. Let's talk specific logistical issues of delivering high-quality health care to every American. Let's ask how many people have had some or all of their health care costs denied by their insurance company. Let's ask how many people have had to seek pre-clearance of a specific health care procedure by their insurance company. Let's ask how much of an average person's health care invoice is increased in order to pay the hospital, doctor, etc for the uncompensated treatment of uninsured Americans.

You want to scare people by calling health care reform "socialist" or playing Jewish music? Then the word for your tactics is un-American. Sometimes Nancy Pelosi is right.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Birthday week here at Ipse Blogit

Jim and I are both celebrating birthdays this week, with mine being Tuesday and Jim's Saturday. We'll both be at Thursdays at the Plaza this week, if you'd like to share in the mirth and merriment. Or serve us with gag orders, sealed pleadings, secret diaries, subpoenas, complaints for libel, etc.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Ole Miss Football: The Real Thing or Another Mirage?

The Coaches' poll released today has Ole Miss ranked TENTH. That's right, No. 10.

USA Today sets expectations even higher:

"All of this has Ole Miss, a school as attentive to its football history as any in the nation, hoping for its first-ever berth in the SEC Championship Game, its first SEC title since 1963 and, perhaps, its first national title since 1962."

Wow. Hard to believe? It seems like almost every year since I moved to Jackson in 1982, the Rebel faithful have thought the glory days of the 1960s (or at least the Archie Manning years a decade later) were returning. And almost every year, those hopes have been dashed.

Will it be different this time? An SEC Championship Game berth? An SEC Championship? A National Championship?

Oscar Wilde once said, "A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world."

So here's to you, Ole Miss Rebel Faithful. Dream on. And may your dawn not bring you to blinding reality.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

MESJ Presents: Andre' deGruy speaking on "Report From the Battlefield: Defending Death Penalty Cases in Mississippi"

Please join Mississippians Educating For Smart Justice (MESJ) to hear Andre' deGruy, Director of the Office of Capital Defense Counsel, relate his experiences in defending men and women charged with capital murder and facing the death penalty.  Andre' is one of the most effective criminal defense lawyers in the state, but he has spent nearly 20 years -- his entire career -- representing poor persons facing society's worst punishment. 

We have a lot to learn from Andre's struggles in the trenches of the Mississippi criminal justice system.  We hope to see you there!

When: 7 pm, Monday, August 10, 2009

Where: St Richard Catholic Church, Jackson Mississippi

Great News

The Senate has just confirmed the Honorable Sonia Sotomayor as the 111th Justice of the Supreme Court by a vote of 68-31. She will be the first Hispanic and the third woman to serve on the Court.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


I will not be writing further on the Irby case. Judge Green reminded everyone of Rule 9.01 today, read a portion of it aloud, and made certain to emphasize the phrase "other officers of the court." While others may disagree with respect to how expansive the rule is, I'm surely going to honor what I view to be Judge Green's wishes on the matter.

That is all.

MLR Exclusive

Philip Thomas' Mississippi Litigation Review blog has an exclusive I think y'all want to see.

He's Baaack!

Is is just me, or was anyone else thinking that what our Secretary of State REALLY had in mind when she sent Bill out there was a hostage exchange?

In any event, expect Bill to be sent on more missions to countries where it's tough to distinguish between women and yaks. 

Congrats to Bill.  And sorry, Madam Secretary, he IS coming home.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Follow up to the grand jury subpoena question from earlier

Judge Yerger addressed this issue in State v. Sharrod Moore. Here's the Motion to Quash Grand Jury Subpoena from Chuck Mullins on behalf of Mr. Moore, and Judge Yerger's Order Granting Defendant's Motion to Quash Grand Jury Subpoena.


A footnote to Fulks v. State

Late last month, I posted on the 9-0 opinion of the MSSC in Fulks v. State. I didn't know it at the time, but it was apparently the first unanimous reversal of a conviction since 1995. My guess is that Chuck Easley's presence on the bench is part of the reason for that. Actually, it's my hope, more than it is a guess.

In response to Kingfish's comment...

Here's the docket on Irby. It shows the Motion to Preserve Testimony (the exhibit to which was sealed), but no subpoena for the medical records:

No more anonymous posting

Three reasons for this:

1. Some individuals can't make an argument without comparing their opponents to self-stimulation devices,
2. People that challenged need to be identified so we can help them with their problem,
3. Only English Lit professors should have to type "anon" as much as I do.

The solution (for now) is OpenID posting. How do you get an OpenID? Well, you probably already have one. (Yahoo, Google, AOL, MySpace, Flickr, etc. all provide you with an OpenID). Here's a link to a page that lets you know how to use your long-lost MySpace login and password as your OpenID.

The Grand Jury Subpoena and Its Proper Use

There's an interesting question of law bouncing around the Hinds County Circuit Courthouse right now, and I want everyone's take on it. Here's what's happening:

The Hinds County District Attorney's Office has been issuing grand jury subpoenas to obtain documents in cases in which indictments are already pending. (Meaning the documents sought are not being sought for the purpose of presentation to the grand jury.) From what I can tell, this has been the local practice for time immemorial. The effect of doing this is an end run around Rule 2.01 of the Uniform Rules of Circuit and County Court Procedure, although perhaps not intentional. Rule 2.01, in essence, prevents lawyers in criminal matters from issuing subpoenas duces tecum without getting permission from the court, unless the things sought are to be produced at a hearing. Frankly, I'm at a loss as to why we don't follow just Rule 45 in criminal matters as well, but that's for another day.

The question is this: Is it proper for a prosecutor to obtain documents via grand jury subpoena once an indictment has already been returned in a case?

This issue first arose before Judge Priester (no ruling yet) in the last couple of weeks, and now it appears as though it's made an appearance in the Irby case. Kingfish has been doing a great job of covering that case, and has a post on the contretemps over Stuart Irby's medical records, which I'm thinking were obtained with a grand jury subpoena after the indictment. My hunch is based on the line "The State apparently obtained Mr. Irby's medical records through post-indictment measures," which is found at the top of Page 2 of Lisa Binder's Response to Motion to Preserve Testimony on behalf of Stuart Irby. (Thanks to Kingfish for posting the Response.)

Since I'm referencing URCCC 2.01, I thought it'd be important to reproduce it here in its entirety:


A. Except as set forth below, the procedures for subpoenas in both civil and criminal matters shall conform to Rule 45 of the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure. This rule shall not apply to proceedings before a grand jury.

B. Subpoenas Duces Tecum in Criminal Cases for Production at Trial or Hearing. A subpoena in a criminal case may, without a motion or hearing, require the production of books, papers, documents or other objects at the date, time and place at which the trial, hearing or proceeding at which these items are to be offered in evidence is scheduled to take place.

C. 1. Subpoenas Duces Tecum in Criminal Cases for Production other than at Trial or Hearing. No subpoena in a criminal case may require the production of books, papers, documents or other objects at a date and time or place other than the date, time and place at which the trial, hearing or proceeding at which these items are to be offered in evidence is scheduled to take place, unless the court has entered an order pursuant to this rule authorizing the issuance of such subpoena.

2. Motions; Service; Opposition. A hearing on a motion for the issuance of a subpoena duces tecum shall be set at the time the motion is filed and served. The hearing shall be set no earlier than ten (10) days after filing and service of the motion. Except for good cause shown, all motions for subpoenas duces tecum shall be served on: (1) the custodian of the books, papers, documents or other objects which would be subject to the subpoena; (2) all parties; (3) all persons whose books, papers, documents or other objects would be subject to the subpoena; and (4) all persons who may have a claim that privileged material would be subject to the subpoena. Any party to the action or other interested person may file an opposition or response.

3. Supporting Affidavit or Declaration. Motions seeking subpoenas duces tecum under this rule shall be supported by an affidavit or declaration stating facts which establish: (1) the documents or objects sought are evidentiary and relevant; (2) the documents or objects sought are not otherwise reasonably procurable in advance of the trial, hearing or proceeding by exercise of due diligence; (3) the moving party cannot properly prepare for trial without such production and inspection in advance of trial and the failure to obtain such inspection may tend unreasonably to delay the trial; and (4) the application is made in good faith and is not intended for the purpose of general discovery.

4. Immediate Lodging with Court. Any subpoena duces tecum issued under this subsection shall be returnable to and the items sought thereunder produced before the court. In the event that materials subject to a subpoena are received by a party, an attorney, or an attorney's agent or investigator directly from the subpoenaed person, any person receiving such materials shall immediately notify the court and shall immediately lodge such materials with the court. The materials shall not be opened, reviewed or copied by a recipient without a prior court order. D. Sanctions. Violation of this rule may provide a basis for sanctions.

[Adopted effective May 1, 1995; amended April 18, 2002.]

Monday, August 3, 2009

Watch Out Republicans, the Stimulus is Working!

The major news organizations are all reporting that Ford is posing its first increase in sales since November 2007 -- an increase credited to the "Cash-for-Clunkers" Program. This is the CNN Money story.

In another story, the Associated Press is reporting that the call to increase funding for the program is being heavily supported by industry leaders:

The Senate came under increasing pressure Monday to refuel the stalling "cash-for-clunkers" initiative amid uncertainty over how much money, if any, is left in the fund bankrolling the popular program.

The Obama administration pushed for an additional $2 billion after serving notice over the weekend that the program could expire as early as this week unless the Senate acts, as the House did in voting overwhelmingly for the money last Friday.

* * * *

Fierce lobbying for keeping the program running came from several quarters. The National Automobile Dealers Association and the American International Automobile Dealers said they were contacting thousands of dealerships and encouraging them to bombard the Senate with phone calls and e-mails.

"This is the one true stimulus that seems to be working out of all the things that have been tried in the last few months," said Cody Lusk, president of the international dealer association.
In my humble opinion, the program makes sense. It gives the economy a jolt while, at the same time, increasing fuel efficiency overall in the U.S. Who can be opposed to it?

But as usual these days, the Party of Herbert Hoover wants to "Just Say No" to more funding. The New York Times quotes Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina (who also opposes health care reform) as saying:

Senator Jim DeMint, Republican of South Carolina, said the “cash for clunkers” program was an example of the “stupidity coming out of Washington right now.”

“The federal government went bankrupt in one week in the used-car business, and now they want to run our health care system,” Mr. DeMint said in an interview on “Fox News Sunday.” “This is crazy to try to rush this thing through again while they’re trying to rush through health care, and they want to get on to cap-and-trade electricity tax. We’ve got to slow this thing down.”

At the same time, Senator John McCain has announced that he will lead a filibuster against the funding increase.

Will the Republicans come to their senses and admit this part of the stimulus is working? Or are they bound and determined to be DeMinted? Stay tuned.

Won't Be Fooled Again?

The Kaiser Foundation, started by the founders of the first HMO in America (and builders of the hospital where this writer was born) studies issues regarding delivery of health care in America. The Foundation has released a study of the history of the struggle for health care reform in the U.S. The report is facsinating, because it shows how many of the heroes of 20th Century American History (TR, FDR, Truman, etc) fought for universal health care, and how the special interests kept it from becoming a reality.

Now some of the same special interests (the AMA having seen the light) are trying to scare the American people into rejecting the Obama Administration's attempt to -- finally -- give the American people a right to health care. Will we be fooled again by slick marketing that tries to convince Americans that the current HMO and health insurance controlled health care system gives us "freedoms" that a government controlled system would take away?

How is it that Americans have a right to a lawyer, but not a right to a doctor (or nurse, medicine, etc)? If I had to choose, I'd take the right to a doctor any day. But why do we have to choose?

This report is worth pondering as we enter a month-long ad campaign to sink health care reform:

History of Health Care Reform (Kaiser)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Flattering write-up of Jackson in airline magazine

Southwest Airlines' "Spirit" Magazine has profiled our fair city, and they're fans. For those of you feeling down on Jackson, take a read.

Great article about Downtown Jackson living in today's C-L

One of my neighbors, Michael Rejebian, penned a guest column on Downtown Jackson life for today's Clarion-Ledger. If you live in Mississippi, or used to, take a minute and read what Michael has to say about living in Downtown Jackson. I imagine it'd be an eye-opener for a lot of you.