Melton: ‘How Dumb Can You Be?'

photo

Mayor Frank Melton outside the federal courthouse during his first federal trial in February.

Jones County Circuit Court Judge Billy Joe Landrum gave Jackson Mayor Frank Melton the keys to the courtroom at a hearing today, allowing him to belligerently insult the attorney for the Democratic committee that expelled him from the primary ballot last week and avoid answering questions he did not wish to address. Landrum has been put in charge of a suit to decide whether or not Melton can legally run for re-election as a Democrat.

The Jackson Municipal Democratic Executive Committee voted unanimously to remove Melton from the primary ballot after reviewing Nexis/Lexis records on his driver's license and Hinds County tax information revealing that Melton again filed for a homestead exemption at his Texas home, rather than in Jackson.

The committee argues that Melton does not qualify to run in the election because he is not a Jackson resident.

Landrum impatiently complained of eye operations, health exams and a busy schedule, but said he would fax his decision on the matter by 5 p.m. tomorrow. Judging by his handling of the hearing, however, the committee has little reason to suspect he will rule in their favor.

Melton's attitude toward defense attorney Dorsey Carson was dismissive and oftentimes difficult throughout the course of his time on the witness stand. The mayor happily provided information regarding utility bills and driver's license information supporting his Jackson residency, but evaded questions concerning his honesty before the committee in 2005 and his federal tax information, with Landrum's blessing.

"On your federal income taxes do you claim Texas or Mississippi as your domicile?" Carson asked.

"We don't claim either one of them," Melton answered.

"There's a form where you have to list your address," the attorney pointed out.

"You'll have to ask (my accountant)."

"You do not know what state in which you list your taxes?"

"They give you a number. I'm not a tax expert."

"You don't know the address that you and your wife put on your federal taxes?" Carson persisted.

"No, sir," Melton answered, but added "I'm just embarrassed at the waste of this court's time."

Committee members claim Melton's residency could be a sticking point. In order for Melton and his wife—who file federal taxes jointly—to claim a Texas homestead exemption, both must swear that the Texas address is a "primary residence."

If this is true, Melton likely lists his status at his Jackson address as "part-time resident."

Landrum seemed dismissive of Melton's refusal to answer.

"Look, he says he doesn't know. I don't fill out my own income taxes," the judge said, and added that he would tell the counselor to file a request for Melton's partially redacted federal tax information before noon tomorrow.

The judge did not seem to mind Melton disparaging Carson from the witness stand. At one point, Carson asked Melton to confirm if he had recovered from a recent operation in Texas rather than Mississippi, whereas Melton replied, "How dumb can you be?"

Landrum condoned Melton's attitude, ordering the attorney to move on to other questions that the witness could ignore, such as Carson's inquiry about the residency of the children that Melton had legally adopted.

"I'm going to protect them, and I just don't think that's your business," Melton answered.

The Jackson Free Press reported in 2005 that Melton had told committee members that he had filed for a homestead exemption for his Jackson residence, and—weeks later—it reported the response from Melton's attorney Sarah O'Reilly-Evans when the truth about Melton's misinformation reached the committee.

O'Reilly-Evans told the committee at that time that they could do nothing about Melton's lie because the window of time to act upon it had passed.

Today, Melton denied any knowledge of misleading the committee, despite numerous witness accounts.

Landrum felt Carson's line of questioning on the matter meant nothing to the case, however.

When asked why the committee had accepted Melton's claim in 2005 without verification, committee President Claude McInnis said they had no reason to doubt him: "We did not know at the time that Melton had a propensity for dishonesty," McInnis said.

Melton's attorney John Reeves said the committee is basing their rejection of Melton's place on the ballot upon too narrow a definition, and appeared confident that he would win the case.

"Where you file for homestead exemption is only one factor," Reeves told reporters. "People have more than one residence, so the Supreme Court has ruled that you can prove where you live by a number of factors, not just homestead exemption."

Previous Comments

ID
145109
Comment

Joseph Pleasant of WAPT was asking Melton a question as they were walking on a downtown street and Melton told him, "Why don't you stand on the street til the 18-wheeler truck come?" Sigh.

Author
golden eagle
Date
2009-03-25T18:10:17-06:00
ID
145110
Comment

No matter how many accountants you have doing your taxes, you still have to sign the forms. It's pretty dumb to sign anything without reading it, but apparently Melton does and so does Landrum since he thinks it understandable Melton doesn't know the address on the tax form. I guess that just makes both of them, well, dumb.

Author
chaffeur
Date
2009-03-25T18:34:18-06:00
ID
145111
Comment

WTF - somebody needs to question Chief Justice Waller why the heck he appointed a known political hack judge. This is the same judge that was involved in all of the controversial tobacco cases, where he constantly sided with Scruggs, et al. Sounds to me like the fix is already in. Geez, When will we ever get a break here in Jackson. I don't know which way this case OUGHT to go, but I sure wish I had more confidence in the legal system to do the right thing and have confidence that a legitimate, well-reasoned, and proper decision is being made.

Author
FriendsofJackson
Date
2009-03-25T19:16:01-06:00
ID
145113
Comment

I keep saying... The courts aren't going to help Jackson.

Author
Ironghost
Date
2009-03-25T20:14:28-06:00
ID
145115
Comment

It is someone in the Supreme Court that keeps appointing Judges who favor Melton. This one seems to be even more biased, if that is possible. His comment to the WAPT reporter is just a small example of what his swagger will be if someone does not stop him. The law means nothing. Playing the game on the edge means everything to him. Nice job of giving us some flavor in this article, Adam.

Author
Razor
Date
2009-03-25T21:16:56-06:00
ID
145116
Comment

You're right Ironghost. The courts aren't going to help Jackson. The fix is in. Melton's name will be placed back on the ballot. This is so very sad.

Author
blu_n_a_redstate
Date
2009-03-25T21:42:52-06:00
ID
145117
Comment

Melton was never "on the ballot". He was seeking placement on the ballot as a Democrat. The Democratic Party has a right to determine who they want to represent the party. Why didn't he run as an independent since he didn't like either party?

Author
CatO9tails
Date
2009-03-25T22:49:44-06:00
ID
145132
Comment

Melton's on it. Jackson is doomed.

Author
Ironghost
Date
2009-03-26T11:21:46-06:00
ID
145134
Comment

Surprise, surprise! Judge must have flipped a two-headed coin at lunch.

Author
Razor
Date
2009-03-26T11:39:17-06:00
ID
145135
Comment

How is Jackson doomed? I'm not voting for Melton, but I think it was the right call. He does live in Jackson.

Author
golden eagle
Date
2009-03-26T12:33:30-06:00
ID
145136
Comment

Because good people will obey the law, even if it says "Jump off a Cliff". People like Melton will ignore the sign and laugh at the idiots who obey the law. Melton has never suffered for disobeying the law, so by now he sees no point in doing so. Now he can take advantage of those who will try to obey the law.

Author
Ironghost
Date
2009-03-26T12:36:21-06:00
ID
145138
Comment

CatO9tails, not only didn't melton "like either party", he was not a registered voter until he ran for the office of mayor. There is no history of his being a registered voter in Texas. There has never been an official background check and everything that was checked (use of fire arms) turned out to be a lie. I am glad that the Judge ruled to have melton placed on the ballot. The Democratic Executive Committee, as well as some others, could have challenged melton's residency issues four years ago. You let this man serve as the mayor of the city for four years and now the committee is saying that he doesn't live here? This is STUPID! What is even more DUMB is Musgrove appointing him as Director of the MBN. He did nothing there but ruin the lives of others. By the way, he worked without pay, so, Musgrove did not order a background check. This guy, melton, is a master at game playing. The JFP tried to keep this community informed; however, the fast talking, lying, and unethical colorful melton would win over reason. I am not a melton fan and I have tried to tell folks that melton was nothing but sound bites for certain media (CL) and that his lies were so thin that Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder saw all of them on the same day. If his name is on the ballot, the people will decide. If he is VOTED OUT, his game is over. This is an important election and I hope that citizens will not be fooled again.

Author
justjess
Date
2009-03-26T12:48:16-06:00
ID
145145
Comment

Justess, The issue was not if he could be on the ballot. The issue was would he be listed as a Democratic on the ballot. Last time (4 years ago) the challenge to his residency was filed too late to prevent him from running as a Democrat. This time, the challenge to Melton's residency was filed too late for Melton to respond to the challenge in time to run as an independent or Republican. The R's surely would have done the same thing the D's did in challenging his residency, and in my opinion the Jones County judge would have upheld the R's refusal, think Mississippi Burning. I am amazed how people don't realize that when you allow the little despots to ignore the law at their leisure, you give the medium sized despots (Ed Peters and Dickie Scruggs) and the big despots (Bush and Chaney), the cover to do the same...or visa versa, take your pick. It's the old broken window-dirty lot, broken tail light postulate. If you allow the little things to pass, in no time the big things are allowed to pass as well. Mayor Hawkins has shown the counter-viability of such a philosophy in Madison, in her own despotic, yet charming way. PS: If the D's were serious they would appeal the Jones decision all the way up to the Ms supreme court. By then the election would be over...see also Bush-Cheny 2000.

Author
FrankMickens
Date
2009-03-26T13:54:05-06:00
ID
145149
Comment

It's called the Dirty South for a reason, and it's not because of the way we dance or how often we wash our cars. That said, Melton's odds of winning are pretty low whether he's on the ballot or not. Even if he somehow makes the runoff (and he's polling fifth place in the stuff I've seen), how likely is he to get 51% when he's got another federal trial coming up mere days later? Incumbency isn't necessarily a huge advantage for mayors, particularly bad mayors. I have faith in the people of Jackson and I don't expect Melton to get reelected.

Author
Tom Head
Date
2009-03-26T15:02:13-06:00
ID
145151
Comment

My faith is surging... I feel a little better about Jackson every day. I have no doubt we'll have a new mayor.

Author
Tom Head
Date
2009-03-26T15:20:28-06:00
ID
145152
Comment

baquan2000, If melton is re-elected, after I dry my eyes, the FIRST thing I will do is to contact Harvey and his family to express my deep sorrow because they are just good, honest, decent folks and Harvey has the experience, the training and a wealth of knowledge to manage this city. He also takes community development with "INCLUSION" to another level. NEXT, I will ask you to disclose your idenity and meet me for a sit on the front steps of City Hall. This is where we will conduct our laughing contest. I know for a fact I will win. And please, no comments about insensitivity. Laughter would be the only emotion left.

Author
justjess
Date
2009-03-26T15:36:03-06:00
ID
145154
Comment

what polls u saw wat websites

Author
NewJackson
Date
2009-03-26T15:39:38-06:00
ID
145156
Comment

NewJack, I can't remember offhand but in one he was polling at 9%, and in another somewhere between 10 and 15%.

Author
Tom Head
Date
2009-03-26T16:02:31-06:00
ID
145157
Comment

My own gut instinct thought that Melton would only poll around 10%, plus or minus a few points.

Author
golden eagle
Date
2009-03-26T16:16:01-06:00
ID
145162
Comment

I have trouble believing the majority of Jacksonians are so irredeemably stupid as to re-elect Meltdown based on his record. Five to ten percent would maybe. And I agree with the judge's decision. Since Meltdown was allowed to run last time as a Demorat despite his shaky residency eligibility he should be allowed to run as one this time.

Author
Jeff Lucas
Date
2009-03-26T18:28:25-06:00
ID
145164
Comment

You never lose betting on someone's stupidity. I bet they'll go for Melton again.

Author
Ironghost
Date
2009-03-26T20:22:20-06:00
ID
145165
Comment

Okay, so how much you wanna bet?

Author
Tom Head
Date
2009-03-26T20:27:47-06:00
ID
145172
Comment

yeah put me down for twenty meltons out

Author
NewJackson
Date
2009-03-27T07:02:48-06:00
ID
145183
Comment

Given the current economy, you'd be lucky to get a dollar out of me, Tom. :)

Author
Ironghost
Date
2009-03-27T08:56:53-06:00

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