2006 JFP Interview: Peterson Makes Her Case | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

2006 JFP Interview: Peterson Makes Her Case

<b>The JFP Interview with Faye Peterson</b>

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Hinds County District Attorney Faye Peterson is nothing if not confident. It's a stalwart, rocky kind of demeanor that probably helps get her through her day in her office on the top floor of the Hinds County Courthouse.

Peterson, 41, has been a Jackson resident all her life, and the D.A. since 2001, taking over after Ed Peters retired after 30 years. The graduate of Jackson State University and Mississippi College School of Law was appointed to the post by Gov. Ronnie Musgrove, then won the seat in a special election against a Republican Bryan Buckley. In 2003, she defeated attorney Wilson Carroll, who had never tried a criminal case, in her re-election bid—seeming to rise above mountains of criticism, much without basis, spending little time defending herself during the campaign, then riding to an easy re-election.

Lately, though, Jackson Mayor Frank Melton has buffeted Peterson with fierce criticism. He has long accused her of not going hard enough after members of an alleged criminal group that he calls his "obsessionԗthe Wood Street Players. After the district attorney refused to put Melton's star witness, Christopher "Smiley" Walker, on the stand in the trial of Albert "Batman" Donelson, he started telling reporters that the the D.A. was "incompetent" and even "corruptԗallegations that heated up further after Donelson was acquitted.

Then, in response to Melton's behavior in April—filing false arrest warrants against Donelson and Walker—and going to Donelson's mother's home with a shotgun, as well as questionable searches and "raids" with unregistered weapons as reported in detail by the JFP, Peterson asked Attorney General Jim Hood to investigate Melton's actions. In return, Melton called a press conference last week to repeat his corruption and incompetence charges, but was upstaged a bit by his companion there. Walker—who has been living in Melton's home and was arrested for failing a drug test this week—accused Peterson of having a relationship with now-deceased bondsman Jimmy "Jam" Johnson, who was shot dead in his car in what police describe as an assassination. Melton says that Johnson was working with the Wood Street Players and involved in corruption in the municipal court, but has not provided proof.

The JFP spoke with Peterson last Sunday about the recent turns of events and her sudden role as chief whistleblower on Frank Melton.

When did you first catch a glimpse of Melton's unorthodox behavior?

When he was at MBN (Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics), I remember there were some individuals who got arrested on obstruction of justice charges. … He'd gone to a house looking for someone. The people over there in that apartment didn't know where this person was. So he arrested all these people on obstruction-of-justice charges and put them in the Hinds County Detention Center. Well, weeks later, they were still there. … The only reason we found out about it was because family members of these people started calling, and they said, "My loved one's in jail, and he has not been before a judge, (he) was arrested by the Bureau of Narcotics." … They were absolutely correct. This was before the criminal facilitator came on board, so it was really difficult to identify, at that time, who was putting people in jail on what types of matters and how long they had been there. They were sitting in jail on affidavits and warrants for obstruction of justice that Melton, as MBN director, had obtained and had actually signed. They were not set on any dockets before any judge for initial appearances. Most of them were just there. … Judge (Mike) Parker dismissed all the cases. He said there was nothing there. But, you know, the law says that within 24 hours of an initial arrest, unless it's on the weekends, you have to be brought before a judge for your initial appearance where you are told what you are charged with. That's state and federal law.

Are you sure we can't blame this on the government being short-staffed? You said there was no court facilitator at the time.

No. (Melton) put them in there and never notified the county court or anybody else that they'd been arrested and needed to appear before a judge, and it never happened. … [Y]ou can't just throw people in the Hinds County Jail, and nobody knows about it.

One manager at a Highway 80 hotel said the police had asked (new Mayor Melton) to convince one resistant patron to open his door (during a raid last year).

Exactly, and if they'd found anything illegal in that room, there wouldn't have been anything we could do about it because the search wasn't legal. We would not be able to prosecute anything they found. When he became mayor of Jackson, one of my concerns was when he went on those "knock and talks" at the hotels. You have to know a lot of law when you're a prosecutor. So I ask myself, "Are knock and talks legal, and under what conditions can a law enforcement officer knock and talk?" Think about it. You don't have a warrant to be there. There's nothing illegal going on. . … [Y]ou need more than just profiling. The people don't have to let you in. They don't have to talk to you.

Did the searches yield any prosecutions?

No, not on our level. No felonies. Now I don't know if they obtained anything on a misdemeanor level, which is not my jurisdiction, but nothing on the felony level.

You criticize Melton at some political risk. Why take this risk?

For two reasons. The mayor has for months now been criticizing me. I've been around for five years, and I can take criticism easy enough. But then I noticed that he was also undermining prosecution, and that is extremely dangerous. In prosecution, the state bears the burden of proof, which is rarely easy. And for someone who says they're trying to fight crime to then create scenarios where there is no public trust of what district attorneys and police officers have to do to prosecute individuals … you can't have it both ways. You are either trying to fight crime, or you are not. My office works extremely hard. I don't control the media, and my office has never been fully given credit for the number of cases we won and the work we have done. There's no way short of sitting on a jury that people can find out what we do.

What are they missing?

Other than this situation with Mayor Melton and his young friends undermining the criminal justice system for the benefit of them being able to get back out on the streets and do whatever they are doing, my office doesn't have these problems. We won every murder case we tried last year. I tried six myself and won every single one of them. But you wouldn't know that reading the newspapers. Unfortunately, the media says 'Judge so-and-so sentences so-and-so to 50 years,' but what people don't understand is that a judge doesn't give anybody anything that a prosecutor has not worked hard on and already done a conviction on. Every jury trial is won by the prosecutor's office. The judge sentences; the jury decides verdict. We win most jury trials, but we don't win every jury trial, and we try a lot of cases. I'm not selective on homicide cases and crimes against victims and being so arrogant as to say, "I'm not even going to give your case a day in court because it's no good," unless there's no proof. If there's some proof, I'll go forward with the case.

The only reason we tried the cases of Carey Bias and Aaron Crockett—the victims in those cases with Maurice Warner, Vidal Sullivan and Anthony Staffney—(is that) I met with Bias' mother before the trial and told her what we were up against with that case. I said, "But ma'am, that was your son that was murdered, and these are the persons who are alleged to have done this, and this is the proof, and I'm going to give it everything I can to get the conviction." I don't try cases for my reputation. I try those cases because of the victim. We did the same thing for Aaron Crockett's family. That is not a laughing matter. It was very insulting to those victims' families for (Melton) to think that you can use their loved one's life as a pawn for personal gain, because they lost their child, and they wanted something done, and I'm willing to do what I can.

If Melton was up to unorthodox behavior when he first took office, why wait until now to speak up and go to Jim Hood's office?

No arrest would have come out of much of what he was initially doing, but when he obtained an illegal arrest warrant, that, to me, was a clear violation of a law. In my opinion, he broke the law when he asked that judge to sign an arrest warrant on Albert Donelson. He broke it with those statements that he was going to do it. I'm not saying I'm a friend of Albert Donelson. I am not. But if you were so bold as to go and get an illegal arrest warrant to hold somebody in prison, you're guilty.

What do you think of the A.G. bringing you two together to work things out?

This is not about some kind of personal thing between Frank and me. This is business. I cannot select who I prosecute, or who I have allowed to get away with things. If it's brought to the attention of the D.A.'s office, I have to address it. This is my job. I've spoken to (A.G.) Jim (Hood) about this and said, "Look, I don't need you to handle my politics. This is my county. I love the people here. I've been here all my life. This is about doing your job as a prosecutor." I can't mediate a person's civil rights. I can't mediate someone's Fourth Amendment right concerning illegal searches and seizures. I can't mediate somebody stripping them of rights against an illegal arrest.
Melton supporters say the need to subdue high crime in certain areas overrides the need for gun safety and strict civil liberties.

There's no way to justify taking away a constitutional right. It's easier for people to dismiss these constitutional violations when they're not knocking on your door in the middle of the night. Just because these people happen to live in a poor neighborhood does not mean that you can circumvent the law. People in these United States are innocent until proven guilty, and if a person has broken the law we have a method and procedures that have to happen; otherwise they can never be prosecuted, and they can never serve time on that charge. Taking shortcuts puts that ability to prosecute in jeopardy. You can arrest them, but you've still got to prove their guilt. These same individuals who approve of these methods will be the first ones who are running over to the D.A.'s office when their relative or loved one is in trouble. They want to throw justice out the window until their family's in trouble, but it can't be that way. Justice wears a blindfold for a reason.

Some say you're only striking out because Melton exposed a weakness in your office for inefficiency. What say you?

Melton hasn't exposed a weakness in my office or me.

What were some of the problems plaguing the office when you came into it as D.A.?

We needed to make that office accessible to everybody in the community, not just selected people. If you're a victim of a crime you have every right to know everything we do about your case. We do that now.

That was a problem with your predecessor Ed Peters?

Yes. They didn't return phone calls. You had to know somebody in the office to find out about your case or to have any input on what that office did with that case. I have times that I set aside for victims. Just call the office, and they'll set an appointment. If I can help you, we will. … When it comes to making a recommendation on a case, we try 95 percent of the time to make sure that victim or that victim's family knows what's going on and we're backing their decision.

Some assume the lack of inclusion in the last administration was due to staff shortages.

I'm not trying to say anything bad about my predecessor, but it wasn't like that. My folks come to work. We're going to do the job and be there for folks. Even Ed Peters said once that the next district attorney is not going to be able to get away with the things that he got away with, and he told me, "You're not going to be able to get away with anything," and he's right. It's a different standard. It's an unfortunate side effect of certain cultural biases, but I don't let that stop me from doing what I have to do as a prosecutor. The majority of the public in Jackson, thankfully, doesn't care about gender or race, but you still have a vocal minority that do. Many of these crimes affect poor African-American people. They are mostly the victims in these cases. There was an attitude before I took office that unless your case was going to get you some newsprint or high profile, they didn't really care.

In the days before I became district attorney, this man came into the D.A.'s office—I was just an assistant then—and he was furious. He was crying. He was a black man, and he'd just read in The Clarion-Ledger that the man who killed his loved one got two years on a manslaughter plea. Nobody called the family, and the attorney who did that case was hiding in the back of the office and didn't want to talk to him. So I sat that man down in my office, and I explained to him how the law works and said, "Sir, that should have not happened to you." He was so hurt, and I told myself that I was never going to treat anybody like that. You don't do that to people.

Hey, that attorney hiding in the back. Is that person still there?

Nooooo. No, no, no. Not in my office.

Must've been a part-timer.

No, that was just the previous administration. Burying cases like that is heartless. The law should not allow for that. If Albert Donelson got killed tomorrow, I would still have a murder case to deal with, and I'd deal with it.

The other day you referred to some recent high-profile losses as Melton's "messes." What'd you mean by that?

In one of those cases (Donelson's), unfortunately, the mayor, who does not understand law and does not understand prosecution, was trying to make inadmissible evidence (Walker's testimony) admissible, and some other things. I have to answer that question cautiously too because now that is under investigation as well.

Melton said many young men have confessed murder to him but that he won't bring them to you anymore. What's your response?

After we've been through some of these other cases that he brought to us from the MBN, I say, "Please take them somewhere else." I'm sure they'll have the same quality: unprosecutable.

At how much of a disadvantage has he put your office with meddling, as you call it?

He's only affected those cases, and the public needs to be aware of that. He hasn't endangered the D.A.'s office. All he's done is affect those cases with his friends. He has had no involvement in the average homicide case.

What are your feelings on his see-saw relationships with people like Christopher Walker? He supports him financially one day and sends cops out after him the next.

His relationship is a liability. Christopher Walker, as I understood it, is on federal probation right now for an unarmed carjacking and has an extensive criminal history. I believe that people can rehabilitate themselves, and I hope they do, but you have to know where to draw the line with people. As an official you try to make programs, through third parties, available to help people who want to change their lives, so to speak, but for an official to risk the repercussions is dangerous. What if they're using? What if they're dangerous or some other things that have nothing to do with my service to the community? I think that's pretty risky. I don't know what his relationship is with these folks. He'll have to deal with that on his own.

Melton let Walker say some real street-level things (about you) in front of him.

I am, first and foremost, a Christian woman. I have spoken to a number of churches throughout the county. And that, to me, was the most reprehensible thing that has happened. I am a divorced mother with two children. My ex-husband is a successful attorney, and I've only dated successful men. I have a very successful Christian man in my life right now. So for someone to talk up under a lady's dress tail is not only morally wrong, but for (Melton) to sit there and condone that says a lot about his lack of character, his lack of morals and a lack of decency.

Would you consider launching a civil suit against him for slander or such?

If I ever hear something like that out of the mayor's mouth, I will. When you are in public office, people will always say things about you. You risk exposure, but ultimately you have to check your source on things. My thing is I have kids, and I've done everything I could to keep them from hearing (what Walker said). But that angered me as a black woman. I work so hard, I'm physically and mentally exhausted, and for someone to demean my commitment is insulting. I didn't have a silver spoon in my mouth. I've never lived that way, and shame on him for that, because I have a lot of people—women especially—who say, "I see what you did. You overcame so much to get where you are." For him to take what little bit of pride I have earned and slight me that way was the most reprehensible thing he's ever done to me. I would never do that to any other official.

How many kids do you have?

I have two. My son is 13, and my daughter is 10. It's tricky with this stuff going on in the media. They're in the public school system. We're a Christian family, and I've spoken with them about this. They understand the racial attacks, the gender attacks, and they're used to this. I don't think it bothers their spirit.

What time do you usually get home to the kids at night?

Pretty late sometimes when it's really intense. Thankfully, my ex-husband is a full supporter. They're just typical kids. They're in basketball and this, that and the other. I'm very protective of my children. I don't bring work home. I watch what they see and hear as much as possible because I want to protect them. I know I'm in a high-profile situation.

What are some of the challenges you face as a double minority in a D.A. position?

It's not typical that you find an African-American woman as the chief prosecutor. There are fewer than 15 black women nationwide who can claim that. In urban districts, the challenge is: Can you do it, because it goes against the normal persona of the office.

Well, you know, you chicks tend to be soft on crime, right?

That's the assumption, and that's why they keep throwing that out there. I have never let my gender or my race be an obstacle. You have to have a passion for prosecution, and you have to be able to sleep at night knowing you have sent someone to prison that day. I want to make sure that every case we get through, that if you're going away for life, then you did it.

Give me an example of what Ed Peters could get away with that you can't.

Peters could get away with losing a case. If he lost a case, it's the jury's fault. If I lose a case, it's my fault. No one ever called him incompetent just because the jury didn't convict. They didn't convict because they didn't find sufficient evidence to convict.

You've expressed concern over felons living in Melton's house among his foster children. Should an investigation be underway?

I'm not aware of his foster-home status other than what he's said. Foster homes are regulated by the state of Mississippi. There are certain protocols in that juvenile offenders can't be in the presence of convicted felons in a residency situation. With parents, that's one thing, but in a foster home where the kids aren't related, they are not allowed to have contact with them in a residency-type situation. Maybe he has guardianship of some of these children from their parents, which it is his benevolent right to do, but I would assume that if these children are in his home at the direction of the Hinds County Youth Court that everything is correct. It's a matter of whether or not Melton was accurately describing his home situation, or whether or not these juveniles are youth court offenders.

Why did you want to run for D.A.?

I was at home on a medical leave when I found out that Peters said he might not be running. I prayed about it. I talked to my pastor about it, and he said, "You should." The problem was that I wasn't politically connected, and I didn't know where to begin. He said, "Walk in your faith." And things came together so easily when I was appointed. The first thing the governor said—he didn't say "I appoint." He said, "I anoint."

I've always been a spiritual person, and I think God put me here for a reason. That's the only way that I, an unknown, could be placed here in this position. In five years, not only has my faith increased, but my skills as a district attorney have increased. I wouldn't tell anybody that I'm a perfect Christian, but my faith is perfect.

Do you like cameras in your face?

I appreciate the chance to show the public what the district attorney's office really does. I think that people are more aware of things about this office that they didn't know before. I think people realize that my office is there for them. That's the attitude I take.

How many staff members do you have?

Fourteen assistants. That's the lawyers, four criminal investigators, the facilitators, the pre-trial and prevention officers, the liason officer. We got 30 folks.

Do you plan to run for the position again next year?

Sure I do.

What are some improvements you can brag about?

I try to get along better with the sheriff. When I first took office, I talked to the sheriff, and he said, "I want a D.A. I can work with." Not that we haven't bumped heads over the years, but we respect each other. We don't have to agree on everything. We handle most issues in private, but I also know that when I really need the sheriff for something, he's going to do what's right. That's a start.

As for other changes, well, we now have a fifth judge that comes down once a week. Weekly we adapt the jail to facilitate that. We have a court facilitator to make sure we have the information we need. Also, I'm pushing to get paper out of this office. I want our files to be electronic. It would be nice to electronically send a case file to a defense attorney. I think some people think we already do that, but we need to be more technologically up to date in this office.

How do you convince supervisors to come up with the money for new computers?

There are grants for that, and we're applying for them. I think we'll get them.

How did you convince county supervisors to pay for the new position of court facilitator?

We couldn't afford not to have one. Although the jail is the sheriff's responsibility, overcrowding has been a problem with that jail from day one. The main reason was not necessarily the number of arrests, but keeping up on all the people who are in jail. Are they indicted? Are they not indicted? Do they have a bond? Do they not need a bond? These are all issues that got answered by the facilitator. We put in a lot of things to expedite moving people through the system.

We now have a pre-trial intervention program. We didn't used to have that. That's for non-violent first offenders. What all this has done is shorten the time for incarceration for certain types of offenders. Now the most violent offenders, we're going to stay on that case and get it to trial, but I can resolve a drug case quicker than I can a murder case. Some of those drug cases, the sentencing guidelines are not that harsh, so usually we can negotiate something pretty easily.

So much has changed about how we do business in Hinds County. This is not the same office it was five years ago, but everybody's got to cooperate to make it work. I have to have the defense attorneys and the police department and my office coordinating constantly. If there are any changes, then everybody's got to buy into it, or it doesn't work.

The number of cases that were pending when I took office has gone down tremendously. There were un-indicted people who had been in that jail for years. It's one thing for them to be indicted and their attorneys are stalling the case. It's another thing for them to be un-indicted and sitting in the jail.

Before we got the facilitator, I got a member of my support staff to do as much as she could to keep those cases moving. We cleared out all of that mess. We went back and looked at all of those old cases. There were people there who had never even heard anything from (the D.A.'s) office in two years. Every year I have an annual list of homicide victims to give them the status on their cases, tell them where it's at and give them a contact, and explain the process, and let the people working their case explain things to them. We do that every December.

When did you meet (late bail bondsman) Jimmy Jam? How often did you come into contact with him?

I worked in the public defender's office before I came to the D.A.'s office. And that's how I met Jimmy Jam. We met occasionally while we were doing our jobs.

Were you ever suspicious of him?

I knew very little about his life as a bondsman. He was funny. He would call and ask questions about individual bonds. He was a friendly person. When I came to the D.A.'s office, I might see him around, or he might call to get a low explained [HUH?} concerning a bond, but that was really the extent of our relationship. He called and was real supportive when my sister died years ago. He worked in the municipal court, but the municipal court wasn't really my jurisdiction as D.A.

Do you think Jim Hood is predisposed to pursuing a case if one is there?

There's no telling.

Has Melton brought the city under risk of more lawsuits?

I've heard there are some black businesspeople who are suing him, but I don't know. If I knew what was out there I could answer that. That's more of an ACLU question.

Any concluding statements?

I can't reiterate enough that Mayor Melton is the master of the media. I don't want anyone thinking this is personal for me. It's not. It's just business. I don't know him well enough for this to be personal. Even if I am slighted I don't intend to get into the gutter with him. That is beneath me in both my professional and personal capacity. The concerns I have are what he announces out loud, not how he feels about me.

I'm never going to allow anyone to attack my office as he has done and think it's OK. I would never place the power of that office under the control of somebody who's not accountable for it. I'm the elected D.A., and I'm responsible for that office and the decisions that come out of it, and it seems he's got this attitude of "I'm going to scare you, I'm going to disgrace you, and I'm going to make you bow down to me," but that's not going to happen. The D.A.'s office is too important, too critical and too powerful to be subjected like that.

Cases involving the Wood Street Players and the so-called Grayhead gang are often referred to as "Melton's cases." All three of them fell through. Some people are asking why you tried these cases.

Except for the witness tampering, those were damned good cases, and except for the tampering, Melton wasn't involved in all those cases. He was not involved in the investigation of all those cases. That's a misconception. People tend to give him a little more credit than he deserves. The first two cases, the one involving Andre Mason and those people ("Grayhead"), all he did was turn people in. For some reason, these gangsters were calling him to assist them in turning themselves in, but these were JPD cases.

The case with Albert Donelson and those folks—that was his case. That was the only one that came out of Wood Street. And what happened is some of the defendants who participated in the murder pled guilty in their roles in that. You might not like how much time they got, but they actually confessed and took a felony and took time in those cases. When you're dealing with a mob-type case, the only way the state is going to be able to prosecute those cases is if somebody on the inside tells you what happened. And we had people on the inside that took the stand, testified and told us what happened.

People ask me, "Why did you try those cases?" Well, I knew, unfortunately, what innuendos were being placed out there, such as my office taking money. We tried those cases because we did our job and put the evidence on and put it before a jury to decide.

How did Melton meddle in those cases?

They were calling him to turn themselves in, and then, during the course of the trial, the first one was Andre Mason, Melton went public saying that "I've known these kids all my life, and they wouldn't do anything like this," but unfortunately they were alleged to be the ones who would assist in drive-by shootings. The streets were really hot at the time of these arrests. Then in the midst of the trial, he's out vouching for their credibility? See what I mean?

Then the next case (murder of Carey Bias) the next week, Melton said something publicly about (Anthony) Staffney. That's when he went out for Vidal (Sullivan). All three of those defendants who were on trial for that murder—that's the case where that witness (Michael Sanders) recanted, where he wouldn't tell what he knew. Had he testified to what he'd told us earlier, it would have been a different case.

Why he recanted, I do not know. He wouldn't tell us any of the information that he had voluntarily told the police department several times before that filled in all the gaps. He was with the defendants the whole day. He was actually with them because he knew details that only somebody who had been with them all day would know.

Is there a link between Melton and that case?

I can't say anything linking that witness' recanted story to Melton, but I can say that after that trial was over, it was interesting that Anthony Staffney, Vidal Sullivan and Maurice Warner are in and out of the mayor's office and in and out of his home, according to Melton. Then he blames this office for not being able to convict folks who are now his friends? That doesn't work!

(Slight pause.) Forgive me for getting emotional, but people died.

Previous Comments

ID
79769
Comment

Interesting. I think she did a good job of explaining and defending her position and role as DA.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2006-05-10T17:44:18-06:00
ID
79770
Comment

She puts it out there, eh?

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-05-10T17:44:47-06:00
ID
79771
Comment

My contacts up here tell me that she won't be DA much longer. Only positive Heaven spoken here, -The Guv

Author
Kirk
Date
2006-05-10T18:28:34-06:00
ID
79772
Comment

I have a newfound respect for DA Peterson. I have always given her the benefit of the doubt, but in this interview she was very well spoken, articluate, and knowledgable of the laws as they apply to this issue. I appreciate the fact that she repeatedly stated that this "is not personal, but business". I believe that Melton should NOT be given a second chance because when he took office he promised to act on the city's behalf, not for his own ego. Anyone can make a mistake or give some incorrect information, but this man repeated thumbed his nose at the media, the public and anyone who was not kissing his a$$. He stated that he was "toning down" his act. If anyone believes that he is sincere, then I have some property on the moon that I would like to sell you. Adam Lynch.................another job well done!

Author
lance
Date
2006-05-10T19:53:35-06:00
ID
79773
Comment

Nice job Adam! D.A. Peterson did an excellent job of stating her views and what she is up against. I have the utmost respect for her now. She is doing her job. Now let's see if AG Hood will do his as well!

Author
Missy
Date
2006-05-10T20:55:09-06:00
ID
79774
Comment

Faye is doing a good job in my opinion. Ed Peters had more experienced and talented assistants than Faye has. Ed was also a more experienced lawyer than Faye is when he left office. People are comparing Faye to the old and seasoned Ed Peters which isn't fair. I now hope people will judge Faye on her merits and not by the few cases she has lost. Moreover, I hope intelligent people realize it's better to have a fair prosecutor than a stupid zealot like Frank Melton. Faye has balance since she has been a public defender and district attorney. People sick of crime don't have balance and wrongly blames the DA for crime.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2006-05-11T09:11:04-06:00
ID
79775
Comment

Ed Peters had more experienced and talented assistants than Faye has. Ed was also a more experienced lawyer than Faye is when he left office. People are comparing Faye to the old and seasoned Ed Peters which isn't fair. That's a fair statement, Ray. I think the problem in Hinds County comes from a variety of sources: the brain drain and inefficiency from the D.A.s office, lack of jail space, and soft bonding limits as set by judges. I'm not convinced that Faye is a great prosecuter, but you don't have to a genius to make a conviction, you just need solid evidence to convince a jury of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. And Faye hasn't always had the luxury of cases where the evidence was airtight, especially the one's Frank's had his nose in.

Author
Jeff Lucas
Date
2006-05-11T09:29:06-06:00
ID
79776
Comment

The most egregious aspect of Melton's behavior in the back and forth with Peterson was his use of "Smiley" Walker in an attempt to trash her with sexual allegations. Faye was outraged by this tactic and rightfully so. Every black woman I know was similarily peeved as should every right thinking. Talk about "plantation politics", this was it, in spades......

Author
tomac
Date
2006-05-11T11:18:13-06:00
ID
79777
Comment

Thanks Adam and thanks to the Donna. Wow! I am so glad that you guys offered the other side to this. I for one was afraid to make a decision on this Frank/Faye thing simply because it seems so trivial. However, reading this, I too have found a new respect for this woman. She is obviously very versed in the law. I can see her stregnth in her words. As an African American woman, I am proud of her. Still, though I will be watching for further developments. This prooves that there are two sides to every story. Thanks JFP for providing both!

Author
Queen601
Date
2006-05-11T11:28:10-06:00
ID
79778
Comment

I have the utmost respect for District Attorney Faye Peterson. From my sit-down conversations with her, I walked away feeling this was a very educated, dignified and well-rounded woman. I felt she was fair. Willing to listen. And non-biased. From what I have witnessed in the area of organized crime here in the city of Jackson, and from its "ski-mask" effects - the D.A. simply being able to present these cases in a court-of-law was outstanding. She cannot be faulted for what happened during the course of these trials because your hands are tied when witnesses recant. And as she stated, the only way that the Wood Street murder cases were to be prosecuted was to have the ones who committed the crimes to testify. As far as her area of prosecution, what more could she have done. We, as citizens (convicted felony or not) need to assist her in areas such as reporting criminal activities, and giving every bit of information that we can give. Keep up the work, and may God continue to bless you. Sincerely, N.A.C.

Author
Code Red
Date
2006-05-11T12:08:41-06:00
ID
79779
Comment

This was some quote. As a woman, this statement gave me chills: So for someone to talk up under a lady’s dress tail is not only morally wrong, but for (Melton) to sit there and condone that says a lot about his lack of character, his lack of morals and a lack of decency. That needed to be said.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-05-11T15:57:39-06:00
ID
79780
Comment

"Ladd:This was some quote. As a woman, this statement gave me chills: "So for someone to talk up under a lady’s dress tail is not only morally wrong, but for (Melton) to sit there and condone that says a lot about his lack of character, his lack of morals and a lack of decency." I was struck by the same statement, and I'm a man. This is what I was referring to in a earlier post. For me it is about as low as another black man can go in disrespecting a black woman. But then again who ever said Melton was troubled by his lack of character.

Author
tomac
Date
2006-05-11T16:24:47-06:00
ID
79781
Comment

We all look at things through our own lenses, eh, tomac? And there's nothing wrong with that. I'm with you, man. Disrespect is disrespect.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-05-11T16:25:53-06:00
ID
79782
Comment

Do I understand correctly that Ms. Peterson was alleged by one of Melton's "friends" to have been having sex with a witness in one or more of the cases she was prosecuting?

Author
Kirk
Date
2006-05-11T16:36:16-06:00
ID
79783
Comment

Not exactly. A bail bondsman who has been killed.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-05-11T16:37:12-06:00
ID
79784
Comment

So, per Melton, "Jimmy Jam" Johnson allegedly had sexual relations with Faye Peterson, and allegedly had some relationship with the Wood Street Players? And these 2 relationships combined to result in corruption of the DA's office, per Melton's allegations?

Author
Kirk
Date
2006-05-11T16:43:25-06:00
ID
79785
Comment

Still a pretty disgusting accusation from a low-class, seedy character like Walker. I have to agree with everyone here, Peterson is a classy lady in her response to this whole sorted mess.

Author
Jeff Lucas
Date
2006-05-11T16:44:43-06:00
ID
79786
Comment

I should add, and Melton by association with a low-class, seedy character like Walker.

Author
Jeff Lucas
Date
2006-05-11T16:46:09-06:00
ID
79787
Comment

Kirk, I'm not sure the allegations are quite so clear and explicit. There's a lot of innuendo, and little to connect any kind of dots. It's not clear that there are dots to connect. It's important to understand that Mr. Melton tends to fire accusations at his critics, and has for many years. Many of those accusations simply turn out to have no merit. Everytime I hear him make an accusation, I ask for evidence.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-05-11T16:50:40-06:00
ID
79788
Comment

Which part is unclear? Ms. Peterson didn't deny any relationship with Mr. "Jam" Johnson that I could see. Is the relationship between Mr. Jam Johnson and the Wood Street players less clear?

Author
Kirk
Date
2006-05-11T16:55:45-06:00
ID
79789
Comment

Frank Melton is ridiculously irresponsible when it comes to comments made by him. So ridiculous in fact, that I do not believe anything the man says anymore. What was the point of him having Christopher Walker at his news conference? The poor guy couldn't even pronounce the word, "rehabilitated." I guess it was true when I stated how hard it was for me to believe he was "the word he couldn't even pronounce."

Author
Code Red
Date
2006-05-11T18:05:44-06:00
ID
79790
Comment

If a DA is "romantically" involved with a person who is a friend of a defendant in a criminal case being prosecuted by that DA. . . isn't that a potential conflict of interest?

Author
Kirk
Date
2006-05-11T20:24:20-06:00
ID
79791
Comment

Kirk, where's your evidence that this has occurred and who is your source? Hearsay doesn't count. A mayor, who seems to be a habitual liar, sidekicked by a convicted felon reputed to be on drugs, are not reliable sources.

Author
Joerob
Date
2006-05-11T23:01:28-06:00
ID
79792
Comment

Kirk, I must agree with Joerob. If you are going to put anything into comments made by Melton, it only adds to the confusion that is boiling here. Melton has less creditibility that the president. He lies every time his mouth opens. DA Peterson has given us fact after fact to back up her statements. She has not fallen to the level of this street trash (Walker) to fight. She is professional and very courteous. Melton's plan to bring her down has backfired tremendously. Instead of hurting her, she is being emulated. NOW we really see who the real Faye Peterson is. An Officer of the Courts and a Lady.

Author
lance
Date
2006-05-12T06:19:52-06:00
ID
79793
Comment

Joerob: Do I understand correctly that Ms. Peterson was alleged by one of Melton's "friends" to have been having sex with a witness in one or more of the cases she was prosecuting? Posted by: Kirk on May 11, 06 | 4:36 pm Not exactly. A bail bondsman who has been killed. Posted by: ladd on May 11, 06 | 4:37 pm Now, even though I am in Heaven and therefore omniscient, I realize that you merely-human types doen't have all the facts. But even viewing only the facts listed above, I think that at least an appearance of a conflict of interest exists. Ms. Peterson does not deny a relationship with "Jimmy Jam." What relationship, if any, that exists between "Jimmy Jam" and the Wood street Players is unclear. But if these allegations were found to be true, then a rather serious conflict would exist, by my estimation. Of course, we don't have to worry about convictions being overturned as a result of any conflict as Ms. Peterson failed to get any in the first place, so thank God (turns to thank God in person, gives Him a hug) for small favors. But there has been, to my knowledge, no mention of an investigation into these allegations. And that is quite troubling to me as a former Jacksonian. -The Guv

Author
Kirk
Date
2006-05-12T11:07:21-06:00
ID
79794
Comment

Hello Guv, Jam is now dead, so what's the point. It's not like Melton or Walker have any credibility. Who are you willing to believe them or her. I don't believe Ms. Peterson would compromise her job even if she liked Jam. Again, she was once a public defender and is now a prosecutor. She knows lot of shady characters. Ed Peters had all kinds of allegations made about him during his tenure because he new lots of shady characters, too. Give us some proof or move on. By the way, why did you leave your first wife? We liked her and still feels she's a classy woman. Looks to me like you married up with her. I didn't know you could have a wife and fiance too until I learned that from you. Yes, I knew you could have a wife and mistress but not fiance. Anyway, the second wife soon learned you were crazy too. Right? Are you in Heaven or hell now? How is it there?

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2006-05-12T11:19:20-06:00
ID
79795
Comment

Surely, if Melton had a shred of evidence to support his accusations against DA Petersen, don't you think that he would've notified the media by now and made a huge show of his newfound evidence, along with calling for a thorough investigation? Melton hasn't a shred of substantive evidence...only "hearsay", "maybe's" and "ifs". For one to say that her conviction rates are low is beyond logic. Why are the jails in Hinds County overflowing? Why is there currently a significant shortage of space in the Hinds County penal system? If criminals are not being convicted, wouldn't there be more jail space? Kirk, it's not rocket science.

Author
Joerob
Date
2006-05-12T11:33:20-06:00
ID
79796
Comment

I didn't find anywhere in Peterson's statement about a "relationship" with "jam" in the prurient sense intimated in Kirk's question. She admits knowing him as anyone in the criminal justice would be expected to know a bail bondsman. There is nothing in such relationship to warrant an "investigation". If so, everyone in Hinds county and anywhere else he did business would be suspect. This has become an all too familiar m.o. of Melton, throw out outrageous allegations and accusations and hope that obscures his own failings. Melton knew he could be succesfully sued if he made them directly, so he brought "Smiley" for that purpose. This is what makes it all the more galling to me. People keep forgetting that Melton is an adjudicated (convicted) liar as determined by a Circuit Court of the State of Mississippi.

Author
tomac
Date
2006-05-12T11:47:04-06:00
ID
79797
Comment

Tomac, I beleive you're hitting the nail on the head.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2006-05-12T11:52:33-06:00
ID
79798
Comment

It's pretty obvious that "Kirk" is playing with fire with his "Celestial" presence. He also would know by just being mortal that Peterson DID NOT confirm any type of intimate relationship with Jimmy JAM. It's one thing to take the underdog's point of view, but it's playing with something that you clearly don't know anything about when you make religious associations as Kirk has done. Melton clearly is a sh!t starter. Peterson is clearly a peacekeeper. "Nuff said.

Author
lance
Date
2006-05-12T11:55:17-06:00
ID
79799
Comment

JoeRob: Surely, if Melton had a shred of evidence to support his accusations against DA Petersen, don't you think that he would've notified the media by now and made a huge show of his newfound evidence, along with calling for a thorough investigation? I believe Melton has done just that. And, as stated, Ms. Peterson does not deny any relationship with Jimmy Jam. If Ms. Peterson had a shred of evidence to deny that relationship, don't you think she would've notified the media by now and made a huge show of her evidence, instead of going on about what a "Christian woman" she is who only dates "successful men?" If anything Melton or the Walker character said was untrue, Ms. Peterson could sue them for defamation. Ms. Peterson has not menitoned that possibility. Wonder why? Truth is an absolute defense in a defamation action. Meaning, if what they say is true, she has no lawsuit against them. And, if you are unaware of the shortage of jail space (not to mention court backlog) in the Jackson municipal/Hinds penal system, then I don't have the time to cover it. As you said, it's not rocket science, but you need to do some reading. Ray: My comments are made in the context of allegations of incompetence (at least) and corruption (at worst) against Ms. Peterson. My own opinion is that none of the three you mention (Walker, Melton, or Peterson) impress me with their credibility. I'm not sure what you mean by Ms. Peterson "compromising her job," but she hasn't denied a relationship with "Jimmy Jam," and you know more than I do (well, excepting my whole ghostly omniscience advantage) about defamation lawsuits. Recall my comments awhile back about "trial lawyers running amok." Jimmy Jam is dead, to be sure. But potential conflicts of interest in criminal cases ought to be investigated regardless of "Jimmy Jam"s existence on your earthly plane, in my estimation. Speaking of, yes I am in Heaven and "Jimmy Jam" is nowhere to be found. If I can locate him, maybe ladd will let me do a special "beyond the grave" interview to reveal the truth of the Peterson-"Jimmy Jam" relationship. Speaking of, regarding my own relationship foibles while I was alive. . . well, Ray, sometimes you just gotta hit something. But, I would remind you that I am, first and foremost, a Christian man. So for anyone to talk up under a man’s pants leg is morally wrong.

Author
Kirk
Date
2006-05-12T11:56:59-06:00
ID
79800
Comment

Guv, I'm a sucker for comedy, so I can't say anything further. Donna and the other ladies should love your latest comment. You'll will probably get knocked around a little though.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2006-05-12T12:04:08-06:00
ID
79801
Comment

Jimmy Jam is dead, to be sure. But potential conflicts of interest in criminal cases ought to be investigated regardless of "Jimmy Jam"s existence on your earthly plane, in my estimation. Speaking of, yes I am in Heaven and "Jimmy Jam" is nowhere to be found. -Kirk If Jimmy Jam is dead, then so are you Kirk. What are you really hiding behind? You write as if you are on Melton's payroll/staff. All of the evidence that has been presented here on JFP and in the media says absolutely nothing about Peterson being involved with Jam. That nonesense came from a career criminal who is in desperate need of being rescued from Melton. You are entitled to think whatever it is that blows your skirt up, but the majority of the bloggers here are siding with the obvious. And that is the fact that Peterson is doing a great job, and Melton sucks.

Author
lance
Date
2006-05-12T12:05:11-06:00
ID
79802
Comment

Ha, ha, ha! You guys are debating with a dead guy! I'm not even going to touch this one. Carry on! Say hi to Elvis, Guv.

Author
Jeff Lucas
Date
2006-05-12T12:09:01-06:00
ID
79803
Comment

Ha, ha, ha! You guys are debating with a dead guy! -ejeff1970 It really is funny, but it unnerves me when someone plays with religion like he/she does. I think that deep down this person feels the same way that we do, but why not have a little fun?

Author
lance
Date
2006-05-12T12:11:43-06:00
ID
79804
Comment

Kirk, please read the interview more carefully. Peterson does say that if Melton had made the comment himself, rather than allowing a surrogate to make it, then she would sue: Would you consider launching a civil suit against him for slander or such? Peterson: If I ever hear something like that out of the mayor’s mouth, I will. ... Note also her comments on Jimmy Jam: Peterson: I worked in the public defender’s office before I came to the D.A.’s office. And that’s how I met Jimmy Jam. We met occasionally while we were doing our jobs. ... I knew very little about his life as a bondsman. He was funny. He would call and ask questions about individual bonds. He was a friendly person. When I came to the D.A.’s office, I might see him around, or he might call to get a low explained concerning a bond, but that was really the extent of our relationship. He called and was real supportive when my sister died years ago. He worked in the municipal court, but the municipal court wasn’t really my jurisdiction as D.A. So, in case it still isn't clear to you, Peterson does deny having a romantic relationship ("that was really the extent of our relationship") with Jam. It sounds as if they were friendly work associates and nothing more. More to the point, you have it precisely backwards in who has to provide evidence in this situation. Faye Peterson is under no obligation to prove that she did not have a romantic relationship with Jam. It is the person who makes such charges who must provide evidence. And yet neither Melton nor Walker have presented any evidence to that end. Where is the conflict of interest you keep bandying about? She had a work relationship with a bail bondsman who was killed several years ago. Now, she refuses to prosecute cases where the evidence has been tainted. What do those two things have to do with each other?

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2006-05-12T12:36:24-06:00
ID
79805
Comment

OK, Mr. "Fordice," your jig is up. You seem determined to accuse someone of something you cannot substantiate—even though she denied. You are repeatedly putting words in other people's mouths, refusing to read what's right in front of you, apparently. And you're masquerading as an angel of Kirk Fordice is, er, interesting. Based on all this, I searched your IP and discovered that you have have suspended not once, but twice, for trolling for fights in the past. Nice try at slinking back in to cause trouble. Bye.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-05-12T12:50:22-06:00
ID
79806
Comment

I laugh everytime ladd explains the IP address situation to the TROLLS..... The illusion of anonymity.....

Author
JAC
Date
2006-05-12T13:13:35-06:00
ID
79807
Comment

Yeah, the ones who keep coming back with a different goofy name are the worst. This site is not their playpen. And let them have a trantrum about that fact. I don't care. ;-)

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-05-12T13:20:39-06:00
ID
79808
Comment

Reading back, it's quite amazing that Mr. "Fordice" didn't seem as interested in investigations regarding Mr. Melton's potential conflicts of interest with "criminals." Let me say for the record: We investigate important evidence that is presented to us that speak, in some way, the credibility of a public official or the fitness to hold public office. And we look for it based on tips. We report it as we confirm the veracity of it.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-05-12T13:29:46-06:00
ID
79809
Comment

Why Fordice anyway?

Author
Queen601
Date
2006-05-12T13:54:48-06:00
ID
79810
Comment

If the Guvner is gone again. Let me be the first to say, I'm gonna miss him. I liked him a whole lot better from the grave, I might add. And he was funny.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2006-05-12T14:10:40-06:00
ID
79811
Comment

Thank you Ladd for "outing" this character Kirk. It is infuriating to me that someone would use such a "persona" and contrived humor to continue to perpetrate ugly A#$ rumors and innuendos started by Melton and his henchman. There has to be some decency left somewhere..

Author
tomac
Date
2006-05-12T22:47:41-06:00
ID
79812
Comment

I didn't out him completely, tomac. I'll hold back his real name so as to not make a complete a$$ out of him. Yes, there is decency. But not everyone is decent.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-05-12T23:28:57-06:00
ID
79813
Comment

Well, you did enough in this case...again, thanks.

Author
tomac
Date
2006-05-13T00:02:05-06:00
ID
79814
Comment

Thanks form me too Ladd. Kirk was really begining to piss me off. I have a thick skin for the most part, but he really stepped over the line!

Author
lance
Date
2006-05-13T05:58:00-06:00
ID
79815
Comment

No problem. We owe this site, and it has never been here to be used to trash people. That is why it's so popular, and has such intelligent discussion. That's not going to change. Rest assured.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-05-13T09:31:41-06:00
ID
79816
Comment

I really surprised anyone gave Gov. Kirk the time of day. I mean really! I knew what his game was and suspected he was a banned troll from the time he first posted. What was funny was the fact that y'all actually engaged him in a debate, when he clearly had an agenda to bash Peterson, though I will give him credit for trying to be clever, posing as an pathetic governor to make his pathetic arguments. Ms. Peterson's sex life is no ones business but hers, and that's what make Mayor Melton's accusations via his "puppet" so disgusting. BTW, Donna, is our criticism of Melton, particularly some of the more colorful language used, technically trashing?

Author
Jeff Lucas
Date
2006-05-14T19:18:42-06:00
ID
79817
Comment

Donna: Based on all this, I searched your IP and discovered that you have have suspended not once, but twice, for trolling for fights in the past. Nice try at slinking back in to cause trouble. Philip: This is also known as "sock puppetry" - which another board i frequent doesn't take kindly to either

Author
Philip
Date
2006-05-14T22:28:10-06:00
ID
79818
Comment

I personally try to talk about a person's behavior rather than just trying to condemn the person as totally corrupt or a total lost cause. I hope I'm sticking to this rule.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2006-05-15T08:27:30-06:00

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