Jim Hood: The JFP Interview | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Jim Hood: The JFP Interview

Photograph by Kate Medley

In recent weeks, Attorney General Jim Hood has become a reluctant participant, of sorts, in the drama that the Frank Melton administration presides over in Jackson. After District Attorney Faye Peterson sent him a laundry list of potential constitutional and criminal violations by the city's exuberant mayor, all eyes turned to Hood to see how he would respond, what he would do, if he would charge the mayor, if he could help calm him down at all.

The attorney general, a former district attorney himself in North Mississippi, initially disappointed Melton's harshest critics. Helped along by cursory media coverage of his remarks at a press conference on May 31, and a boisterous Melton pre-claiming victory moments before, many Jacksonians got the impression that Hood didn't even slap the mayor on the wrist for his warrantless searches, pushing his way into people's homes dressed as a police officer and—most disturbing—the guns he was concealing on various parts of his body without proper training or even a concealed-weapons permit (which he only filed for the day Hood announced his investigation).

But Hood's real response—the one addressed directly to Melton in writing, the one no media asked for at the press conference—was much more pointed than the public realized at the time. It wasn't until the Jackson Free Press posted those letters on our Web site Friday, followed by a WAPT news report that evening, that the public started to get an inkling that perhaps Hood hadn't gone that easy on the mayor after all.

I started seeing the big picture as I joined Hood in his sunny office, with its expansive view of Jackson, on Friday morning. Wearing a chambray shirt, jeans and brown cowboy boots, Hood explained that the state's laws that would apply to a mayor with such unique habits do not make a criminal remedy easy, or perhaps even possible.

Then he shared with me his shot across Melton's bow—the letter that tells the mayor where he can no longer carry weapons (see page 9), the letter that tells him to leave law enforcement to the police chief, the letter that threatens the mayor with prosecution in no uncertain terms if he does not adhere closely to the law in the future. Calling the letter "Exhibit A" in a future prosecution of Melton if he breaks the law, Hood told me repeatedly and bluntly that there are other "remedies" if Melton does not "behave"—expensive lawsuits against both the mayor individually and the city. He also advised the mayor to use more than the media to try to fight crime in Jackson.

During our lengthy chat—he even made former Attorney General Mike Moore wait outside about 20 minutes for us to finish—Hood clearly would have loved to talk about anything but Melton, such as his battles with the insurance industry on behalf of Katrina victims. We started out talking about a topic that seems to make him very proud—the prosecution of Edgar Ray Killen last year in Neshoba County—and then moved to the mayor's antics, on which he pulled few punches.

Let's start with civil rights. Are there plans to investigate or prosecute any of the other Neshoba County suspects?

No. We presented to the grand jury all of those that were living for indictment. And they refused to indict any of them other than Killen.

Billy Wayne Posey seemed like the next obvious one because he was on the scene.

Jimmie Snowden, Jimmy Arledge and Billy Wayne Posey—there was evidence of their involvement, but the grand jury chose for some reason not to indict them.

Did they ever say why?

I didn't talk to any of the grand jurors, but I think (it was because) those other guys went to the penitentiary and spent time (for federal civil rights convictions), and Killen didn't. Killen has walked around over there with a wink and a nod wanting to take credit for engineering those murders, yet hadn't had to pay the price for them. … Let me add a qualification, though. If one of those witnesses wanted to ever come forward or new witnesses came forward, then we would re-present it. But at this point, there is no new evidence available to present to a grand jury.

Are you looking at other cold civil rights cases?

Yeah. I can't really reveal specific cases that are under investigation. These cases are a little bit different. In (the Killen case), the reason we announced we were investigating was to try to get witnesses to come forward, and some did. … The DA will bring (up) the Emmett Till case to determine if there is someone living to prosecute and the evidence still available to prosecute. Our prosecutors are going through those files. We've worked with the federal government in trying to determine whether there's evidence available on some cases that occurred in southwest Mississippi.

The case I'm real interested in down there is the Henry Dee-Charles Moore murders in 1964 by Klansmen.

The car-bombing case?

That's Wharlest Jackson (killed in Natchez in 1967). I'm interested in that one, too. But the Dee-Moore case is the one there that Klansman beat the two of them in the Homochitto National Forest and dumped them in the Mississippi River.

Yep, I remember that one. We were working with the U.S. Attorney's office, FBI, the DA's office down there. At this point, I don't think any determinations have been made on which way to go on those.

Is an investigation in progress? (U.S. Attorney) Dunn Lampton told the brother, Thomas Moore, that he was going to convene a multi-agency effort to look at it. We've not heard anything more.

I don't know. I haven't kept up with it. But we assigned an investigator to help in that. That was Homochitto National Forest, and it had been federal property where it would've occurred, and they were going to be the lead in that. So I'm not sure. I probably shouldn't even comment, because I don't know the answer to those questions.

Rita Schwerner Bender (the widow of Michael Schwerner) said in Neshoba County last year that the Killen case had attracted so much attention because two of the victims were white, and she said that she feared that the same energy won't go into cases like the Dee-Moore case because the victims were black.

I certainly didn't bring those charges or present that case to a grand jury based upon who the victims were or what their race was. My reason for bringing it is because of how victims feel, particularly those who had someone murdered, and it never was even presented to a grand jury. As to what the public perception was or why that stayed in the public's mind, I don't know. I mean, a psychologist or someone above my pay grade can make that determination. She may be right, you know. But I would think it would be more than race. I put on blinders when I started on that case; I said I'm going to do the right thing. I don't care if it's politically unpopular, I don't care, you know, what the impact will be or whatever. People say if you lose, it's going to be awful for the community over there. I just said, "Did he violate the law? Is there enough evidence to put it before a grand jury?" It's really mechanical. And I put everything I could show to a grand jury. They indicted one. I was fine with that. I had the marching orders to put it to trial. And we tried the guy.

Looking back now, what was the impact?

When I go to a national AG's conference, I see a lot of people from the North, and I would see that they would say, "You know, y'all really have changed down there in Mississippi. We were proud that you prosecuted those people." Those people in college are the ones; it stayed on their minds because that was their colleagues that came down here doing God's work. I mean they were coming down to help people exercise their right to vote and build a library for young black kids over in Meridian. They were heroes to them. I know I wouldn't have gone to New York City in 1980, when I got out of high school, and tried to help poor people knowing how dangerous it was then. So it stayed in the public's mind, I think, more so than race because of that group of people who've now grown to be in their 50s. It seared into their mind that people went down into dark Mississippi, and they were killed, and nothing happened. And the state never did anything. …

How do you mean?

What I'm saying in a roundabout way is the impact on northerners has been good for us. I saw how bad their opinion was. See, I didn't know anything about this. It was '62 when I was born, and it happened in '64. I realize how bad people thought of Mississippi up north. And I think (this case) helped. ...

Talk to me about the Partnership decision. Tell why you think that Gov. Barbour is opposed to the Partnership.

The people who wanted this ruling are the tobacco companies. That's who profits from this. When we started spending $20 million a year to fight their advertising budget, they were spending around like $50 million a year in Mississippi in their total advertising budget. Now they're spending about $130 million. So they had to fight that little $20 million by spending another $80 million a year. For $80 million, it's worth it for them to get their former lobbyist (Haley Barbour) to file a lawsuit to try to stop us from spending that $20 million. And it worked. ... There's going to be almost a decade of lives that will be saved as a result of (the Partnership). And very few people in politics can have the comfort in their heart knowing that they may have actually saved somebody's life. There will be tons of people that won't die from smoking.

After you announced the conclusions of your investigation of Mayor Melton on Wednesday, The Clarion-Ledger headline read, "Mayor Broke No Law, AG says." Is that an accurate statement?

No, and that newspaper seldom—their editorial staff engages in shock journalism, whereas if they actually read the (stories by their writers), they wouldn't put those kinds of headlines out. … There were problems with the cases. There were people out there that wanted me to do the same thing to Frank that they say he did to other people out there—arrest people for things you can't convict them on. ... Yes, there's probable cause to charge him. Yes, there is probable cause to believe that (Melton) violated the carrying-the-firearm statute. OK? And you could charge him for it. ... The second (issue) is the likelihood of conviction. To take their headline—he could have been charged with violating the law, but could you have convicted him? … The statute says you can't carry guns, but there are exceptions.

Tell me about the exceptions.

He's said on TV so many times that he's been threatened. He had an old letter from (Commissioner of Public Safety) Jim Ingram in 1999, saying you got a right to carry a firearm. (We could) charge him for it, but then they got an affirmative defense. So when they put on their defense, (a jury or judge are) going to give the guy the benefit of the doubt and say, "Well, you know, I assume he had the right to carry a gun." ... He had the badges and things, and so they would've given the benefit of the doubt, and you probably wouldn't have convicted him. And if you got a guy convicted of a misdemeanor of carrying a gun, you can't remove him from office for those misdemeanor charges. That's apparently what people wanted. I'm not going to stretch the law to do what's politically popular. I just call it like I see it.

What did you tell Melton?

I told the mayor, and you can see the letter's pretty pointed; it says "you will be prosecuted" in the second sentence of the letter. That is what you do when you have an unclear law to prosecute somebody on. You know, the mayor was upset about this letter, he didn't like the letter. He said, "Why you got to do this letter?" Dale Danks was sitting there and slid down in his chair. And I said: "You don't get it. This ain't for the press. This is going to be the first exhibit I'm going to introduce when I prosecute you for violating one of the terms of this letter." So although it wasn't clear (at the press conference), once you put somebody on warning with a written letter like this, and he steps across the line, then you got him. So, that's the most I could do.

A lot of people are confused by your statement the other day that your prosecutors had not found felony or misdemeanor violations—but that you intend to prosecute him for those statutes if you must.

What I should've said was clear violations. You need probable cause to charge and beyond a reasonable doubt to convict. So I should've said clear charges for which we could convict him. I'm sure I said that at some point in the press conference, but that ain't what got quoted. But that's the facts. Did he violate these statutes? The answer to that is it's not clear. No doubt, you could have charged him for the handgun statute and some others, but could you have convicted him? ... One of my old judges used to say that some people just need a good tryin'. Put their butt through the ringer and try 'em.

There might be some people who think that about Mr. Melton.

That's what it is. Yeah, they do. They think it would've settled him down had we put him through that meat grinder. But I don't abuse the system. I've tried some uphill cases, had people acquitted, where we'd tell victims there's problems with this case, but people were hurt, so we're going to put them to trial. I'm going to take the victim's side on it. But the fact is the remedy's on the civil side. There are two justice systems. People felt like (Melton) violated people's civil rights; well, there is no statute in Mississippi that says it's a crime to do that. Those were voluntary searches. Whether or not it was a coerced voluntary search, that's a civil matter. If you got in criminal court and you were prosecuting, the judge would just throw the evidence out for wrongfully seizing something. But those people that had their rights violated, they can sue. That's the remedy. It's not perfect. Those statutes are not perfect. That (acting as a police officer) statute, there's a hole in the statute that you can drive a truck through because it doesn't say "police officer." It says "official." If you're going to go after somebody, it can't be gray. A jury has got to find beyond a reasonable doubt that they committed a crime.

He made it sound later like you just gave him "advice," not threatened to prosecute him if he keeps going too far.

See, I told Faye ahead of time; I said, "Faye, now he's going to come out and declare victory." I said, "You just get ready for it, and you get prepared." And I said then that the press will probably come back to me, and I'm going to say, "Here's the letter (that says) if you violate the law in the future, you will be prosecuted."

That's stronger language than you used in the press conference.

Yes. I don't like going out and beating somebody up in public. I try to do it in private. If I'd messed up, I'd rather somebody privately call me and say, "You know, you didn't do this right." And I "do unto others," you know. I didn't think it was my place. I'm not going out here and bluff and say, "I'm going to do all these things to you," unless I can. It just doesn't do any good; you lose your credibility if you go out there and act like you're going to do all these things, and you don't have any hammer. Unless you can hit somebody with a hammer, you're not doing any good threatening.

The false Albert Donelson arrest warrant was the only potential felony violation put forward by the D.A. You said Wednesday that you did not address the warrant that Melton said he had filed against Donelson. But you also said you found no evidence of a felony. Reconcile that. How do you know there wasn't a felony if you didn't address it in the investigation?

I don't think I said that we didn't investigate that. My recollection is that, No. 1, there was never any affidavit filed, no written affidavit. Some of the time you can go to a judge, the judge will make you raise your right hand, and you do an oral (affidavit), but normally you're supposed to follow up with a written affidavit. In fact, what we found was he wasn't the one who swore out the affidavit. It was a law enforcement officer accompanying him. That's No 2. No. 3 is that if you have a warrant issued for somebody, and it's wrong, the statute of limitations is wrong, OK, that's not a crime. ... Now there is a civil side. I mean the guy (Donelson) can file a lawsuit against him for doing that. So, one, there's no affidavit filed. Two, it wasn't false, because you would've been swearing this guy committed this conspiracy to commit murder. Well the grand jury had already found that, because he was under indictment for it, see, so yeah, there was probable cause to believe he did it.

Donelson's attorney says there was an oral warrant, that Judge (Houston) Patton responded to something and jailed him longer because of it.

I think that happened. There again, you can sue him. But the affidavit ain't false because the grand jury already had probable cause to believe he conspired to have someone murdered. ... Now what we did was warned him of those charges, and told him that if he does this stuff again, and at least for right now we think that he will do his job. And hopefully he will continue to do it.

What I'm hearing isn't so much that people want him sent to jail per se.

They want him to behave.

Right. I think there's a lot of frustration that no one seems to have the authority to get him to do that before someone gets hurt.

You know when we elect people to office in Mississippi, in every state, you try to educate and work with them to prevent them from violating the law. But if they step out there and commit a felony, you can remove them. People naturally assume the AG's over everybody, but we're not. Until they violate a law you try to talk to them.

Did you see evidence of threats against Melton?

(Jim) Ingram did say something about it, and that was about Melton saying on TV that he had been threatened, back in '99 or something. He showed me a threat on his pager that they had called in to the police department. Of course it may just be some punks out there. They're picking and messing with him now, you know. So, yeah, it was a threat that they were going to kill him. It was on a digital pager when he was in here in the other day.

You don't know who made it?

No. It had an address, and the police responded. ... I suspect he'd be able to come in court and say he had been threatened. He's said it for years. ... We got statutes on the books that say judges can carry guns, prosecutors, but it doesn't name mayor. But we have certain people in the state who carry guns if they're properly trained. Law enforcement officers can take them wherever they want to if they're sworn, they've been through the academy, and they've got certification, which (Melton) does not. There wasn't any question about that. But, yes, he could've been charged.

He has said publicly and repeatedly that he does have that certification. I know lying is not a crime.

Lying ain't a crime. Lord knows we'd have a pen full of folks. That's what he's antagonized the press so much with—those kinds of statements. But I can't look at what people are upset about. I got to look at the dry law. … Secondly, it probably would have been popular if I'd done something. But it wasn't right, we didn't think it was the right thing to do.

Some people are saying you're pandering to Republicans who are still backing Melton, who might not even live in Jackson.

The Republicans are sure not going to vote for me. I'm just trying to call it like we see it. Sometimes you get stuff like this dumped on you in this position that you've got to make a call and do what you think is right and go on. I think people who tread on the law will eventually violate it. I've found that time and again. This Batman guy, if they're bad folks, and they violate the law, they will violate it again. Criminal law is a slow process, but justice will be done in the end. Their time will come. What I've told people from the start of this thing, just be calm, we're going, it's going to take a little time. We'll work through these problems. Criminal law can't cure everything, but people that violate the law or tread on the law, they're going to step in a hole. And when they do, you know their foot's caught in the hole: That's when you make things happen.

But many people who've observed Mr. Melton up close fear something bad is going to happen—he might even hurt himself.

It's a volatile situation. There was no clear violation for which we could have convicted him. That should have been the statement that I made. And I made it somewhere in there. It just didn't get quoted. But it's a volatile situation. The best that we could do was use this letter to say, "Don't step over the line because here it is." This is what this document is—Exhibit A. It's going to be introduced in any prosecution later on. Keep the pressure on. Try to get him calmed down and redirected. Use what influence the office has to try to calm the situation down. I think that's what we've done. Now how long that'll last, I don't know.

Do you think people around him are trying to calm him down?

Sure. I know a lot of people have been to him to try to, you know, get him to redirect his energy. What people thought I took his side on was about me saying he ought to go out (with the police). I didn't say necessarily he ought to go out with them on raids; what I said was that if we want to clean this city up, it helps a little bit to have the media showing law enforcement out there doing their jobs. They're doing these things at night. They're going on raids. That helps raise the awareness that law enforcement is doing their job, which in a way deters crime. But now him physically doing it and being involved in doing that, he doesn't need to be doing that because he's going to get sued. That is where the remedy is.

The city will get sued, too.

Yeah, both. I think he really came into office and thought he could take y'all, the media, and beat down crime with it and not spend the money to build new jails, hire more law enforcement, more prosecutors, more judges. There isn't a silver bullet in fighting crime. Media helps, but it is not the cure. I found out there's a lot of bullets you got out there, and you got to use every one of them. But the main one is money. Until people here want to put their money where their mouth is, and quit all the big talk and listening to politicians that get out there and tell them, "I'm going to make something happen for nothing," you don't get something for nothing in this world. It's true in politics or wherever. With "no new taxes" pledges and all this stuff, you don't get better law enforcement.

You said that the police chief needs to direct Melton on raids. Often, she is not there. She leaves to do other things, or stays in the Command Center. He decides which searches and raids to do.

Yeah, well, the law enforcement needs to do it. The other question that people have was can he act as the chief of police. ... The chief can take him with him. ... But he doesn't need to be reaching over in somebody's car, patting people down and doing that stuff. He hasn't been trained in law enforcement to know how to legally gather evidence. There's no silver bullet to cure this problem. If he sends the cops in there, and you go over there and search that car ... and they coerce and they make an involuntary consent search, then that guy, if they find dope in the car, when he gets to court, he's going to say, "Your Honor, this is a coerced consent, and the judge is going to throw the dope out." So you don't have a criminal case. Then the guy can sue the police department and the mayor or whoever was running the show and the city. ...

What do you say to the public, especially people in the certain neighborhoods that he is focused on?

Just, I think, remain calm, we think that we've got the situation under control. I'm going to do everything I can. I don't make the law. We don't have a statute that says if you violate your civil rights, we can prosecute you. But they do have the civil justice system so they can file suits. I'm surprised some lawyers haven't gone out and found some of them. The civil justice system is there for them. I think we have it under control for a while, at least for a while. I think we're going to be able to make things work better, and that's about all I can say.

Previous Comments

ID
80046
Comment

After reading Hoods interview regarding his "investigation" of Melton, I remain unconvinced by his answers and rationale for not prosecuting. I would also like to have heard him explain his reasoning for trying to arrange a sit down or "counseling" session between Melton and the DA. Remember, he called for this well before he had done much, if any investigation at all. His answer to this question might have provided an insight into his true motives. They certainly did not come through on this interview. I am also disappointed by the seeming lack of thoroughness of his "investigation". Far less "evidence", especially as it pertains to high profile defendants has resulted in many, many convictions. It is ironic that preceding the section on Melton was discussion of old civil rights era cases, most of which have been substsantially decided by circumstantial evidence. According to Hood, when it comes to Melton, such circumstantial evidence is/was "problematic" for him in his ability to obtain conviction. Unfortunately, like so many others, Hood has become another one of Melton's enablers-whether he realizes it or not. I wonder if Hood's recalcitrance might have had something to do with the presence of one of his former trial lawyer buddies-Dale Danks.

Author
tomac
Date
2006-06-07T22:06:09-06:00
ID
80047
Comment

Actually, tomac, you made a good point. I wrote about that in my last editor's note. I should have asked him about that. But he had abandoned the idea by then—as I understand it, because Peterson refused to participate in such a goofy exercise. Otherwise, I have mixed feelings. I read the case summaries and such that apply, and certainly one of the biggest problems here we have is the state of Mississippi law. (I know, big surprise.) But the truth is, his letter is forceful and if he actually follows through with what he says, that makes sense to me. But what happens when someone report seeing Melton wearing his gun in City Hall or in a place where drugs are used, or dealt? Does Hood act? He said he would.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-06-07T22:28:12-06:00
ID
80048
Comment

Also, tomac, I saw the irony, too, about the old civil rights case not exactly being airtight. On the other hand, it is a big deal to charge a mayor with a crime, and I can see his biggest goal being to try to get him to change, especially since you can only remove him from office if it's a felony.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-06-07T22:30:04-06:00
ID
80049
Comment

Donna, I am just reading this online version after hearing you discuss it with Charles Evers tonight. Somewhere on this subject I have gotten the wrong impression. I think I am missing something so please---- anyone out there--- please help me. Is is just me or did all the media outlets get this wrong after the press coverage. I remember going from WAPT, WLBT and WJTV and basically seeing (and hearing) the same thing: that Melton had not broken any laws. In this interview, Mr. Hood seems to be saying that Mr. Melton was admonished to leave police work to the police, but on WAPT they reported that he said that the mayor is admonished to have a hand in the police activity--- but not to police them himself. I am just wondering how it seems like they all got this story wrong--- and why it took so long to correct it with what he is saying was actually said.

Author
c a webb
Date
2006-06-07T23:07:52-06:00
ID
80050
Comment

OK, C.A., let me see if I can explain this. This comedy (tragedy?) of errors was set off when Melton walked out of Hood's office claiming victory to the media. Soon after, Hood had his press conference. It seems that the media herd mentality kicked in with everyone rushing to get the result on the news. And what happened was twofold: the media didn't listen carefully or ask very good questions, and Hood gave a watered-down version of what he told Melton (which he admits above) in his meeting and his letter. The media then jumped to conclusions and threw it on the air and on the front page of the Ledger (in a story that doesn't even mention the "charging" point that Hood is obsessed with). Thus, the Ledger's headline was simply wrong. As Hood says in his letter, Melton "exceeded lawful authority," but makes it clear that the evidence is probably not strong enough to convict him. However, Hood is serving notice that he can no longer violate that lawful authority. *That* is the real story here. Our reaction was a bit different from the other media. We had missed press deadline on it, so Adam did a transcript of Hood's comments that we put online. But his comments bugged me no end. I didn't understand what sounded like contradictory points, such as in his first paragraph. That made me realize that there must be something here we weren't getting. So I called and asked for a sitdown interview, which they made happen the next day. I got the feeling that he was frustrated with the media coverage of it as well and wanted to get it all out there so people could better understand what happened. When I got to his office, he told me about the documents, and said that he was surprised that no one had asked for them at the press conference. I grabbed them, of course. (I must admit there that Adam had not asked for them, either, that day, and I was at the dentist, so I couldn't.) But the story—as usual—is in the documents. All good reporters know that the most important thing you can have is a document. You build everything else on top of it, including your questions of sources. A press conference is the least compelling reporting tool. They simply should open up questions, not be a story in and of themselves. Anyway, I sat down with Hood, and much of this became clearer. That afternoon we put the documents online, and then I saw that WAPT ran a better story that evening about what had actually happened. To my surprise, I haven't seen The Clarion-Ledger try to clean up their coverage of this. It's as if they're content to let people labor under bad impressions. I dunno. Anyway, there are lots of lessons in reporting here. First, get documents. Second, when something doesn't make sense, go back to the source and get it straightened out before you report something as fact. To clarify, Hood tells Melton he can "accompany" the police chief (for the purpose of bringing media coverage to "crime-fighting," but that he should not do the police work himself. He didn't really have a problem with the "police" on his vest, and said he should wear one for protection, but frankly Melton cannot take or wear his guns most of the places he goes on raids. See that list in Hood's letter. It is also very important to realize that Hood is warning Melton every way possible that he is opening up both himself and the city to expensive civil lawsuits. This was a serious warning.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-06-07T23:34:14-06:00
ID
80051
Comment

Also, Hood makes it very clear that Melton should no longer direct these raids as he's been doing. He is supposed to follow orders, not give them, if he goes. He's also got to remove the blue lights from his car.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-06-07T23:36:15-06:00
ID
80052
Comment

Donna, thanks. Explained simply and in a concise way. I have to tell you that I was having trouble putting the two together. I watch the local news, but this story had been so mangled that I lost some of the reporting. That is one of the problems with network television stations. Everyone wants to be the first to "get the story" that they all fail in actually getting the story.

Author
c a webb
Date
2006-06-07T23:45:54-06:00
ID
80053
Comment

Agreed. That's a problem with TV. That's why print is so important. We get to explain things. But we have to do the reporting first, and care about getting the story right. And I must say, WAPT did a pretty job in their piece Friday night. Better late than never. But I think the memes were already planted in people's heads. Sad really for the public to be so misinformed because media don't take time to do the legwork. And I don't say that with arrogance; I say it with hope that the media will continue raising the bar. Honestly, they've been much better of late, but this story fell apart on them.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-06-08T00:05:14-06:00
ID
80054
Comment

Just from reading the interview, Hood seemed really anxious to explain all of this to people. I'm glad somebody's started asking him the right questions.

Author
Darren Schwindaman
Date
2006-06-08T00:16:45-06:00
ID
80055
Comment

My opinion of Hood went up about ten notches after I read this interview. He might be governor material after all. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-06-08T03:20:03-06:00
ID
80056
Comment

You're too kind, Tom.

Author
Jeff Lucas
Date
2006-06-08T06:59:08-06:00
ID
80057
Comment

Donna, thanks. Explained simply and in a concise way. I have to tell you that I was having trouble putting the two together. I watch the local news, but this story had been so mangled that I lost some of the reporting. That is one of the problems with network television stations. Everyone wants to be the first to "get the story" that they all fail in actually getting the story. - C. A. I have been thinking about this, as well. When I first saw the coverage, I think last Thursday, the reporter made it seem as if Mr. Melton was completely cleared, and isn't that dandy. It really made me angry. Then I read the actual letters to Peterson and Melton and thought, Ok, maybe Mr. Hood does have some sense. I get so frustrated when the media combines "dumbing down" with a cheerful "everything's fine" message - not to mention getting the facts wrong. I hate that!

Author
Izzy
Date
2006-06-08T08:33:23-06:00
ID
80058
Comment

Ps - meant to say a TV reporter, not JFP. I think it was channel 12.

Author
Izzy
Date
2006-06-08T08:34:30-06:00
ID
80059
Comment

Well, this letter today to the Ledge shows what the problem is with bad reporting. Is The Clarion-Ledger going to do anything to clear up the misconceptions their reporting on this spread?! Attorney General Jim Hood has determined that in his opinion Mayor Frank Melton has broken no state or local laws ("Mayor broke no law, AG says," June 1), but what about the federal crime he confessed to in a public forum?

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-06-08T08:38:10-06:00
ID
80060
Comment

Good job, Donna, Kate, et al. I don''t really have enough time to read carefully yet and comment.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2006-06-08T08:45:53-06:00
ID
80061
Comment

As well meaning as your euphoria of Hood may be Tom H., I think it might be misplaced. If Hood was really as troubled by the way the media reported his "investigation" and press conference comments, he would most certainly have picked up the phone and attempted to correct it. It wasn't until JFP went to HIM that he has attempted to make some clafrification. Only then did he realize he miscalculated the public's sentiments regardings Melton's actions and sought to clarify the record. Remember, he said Melton took issue with the letter so I suspect that was one of the reasons he didn't even mention it during his press conference. That seems pretty strange to me, even if the media didn't ask. I think anyone, if they had as much concern as Hood NOW seems to express to JFP, would have at least mentioned such a letter. No, it was just an attempt to "protect" Melton and not "embarass" him. I'm afraid Hood's transformation, following the JFP interview, is as a result of being one upped by the typical Melton obfuscation and prevarication of facts; nothing else. In my estimation Hood has dipped several notches on my scale.

Author
tomac
Date
2006-06-08T08:55:59-06:00
ID
80062
Comment

Mine too, though I never held him in high regard in the first place.

Author
Jeff Lucas
Date
2006-06-08T09:15:44-06:00
ID
80063
Comment

Hood seems to be playing a balancing act with the public: It 's called "straddling the fence." At some point you will fall on one side or the other. It is so much easier in the long run to be on the side of what is legal, ethical, moral and of the grater good for the citizens of this community. Hood knows that Melton could have and should have been prosecuted. His remedy is only kerosene for a burning fire! Melton hasn't any shame. He gets a real charge out of this. Believe me, this is truly a game and he enjoys every minute of it. Another question arises for me: If Hood wanted to protect someone, why wasn't it Faye Peterson? She presented these issues and felf that he (Melton) was across the line and had committed crimes worthy of prosecutory action. His assessment, in my opinion, made the DA look like a dumb q$$. Melton does not need a hug: He needs a kick out of office.

Author
justjess
Date
2006-06-09T15:46:03-06:00
ID
80064
Comment

Great interview Ladd. The questions that you asked were the ones that were on my mind. I still feel that Hood took the high road and gave Melton a get-out-of-jail-free pass. If there had been only one or two possible violations, then mayby I could side with the AG. Melton not only breaks the law, but he is so arrogant that it makes you want to throw up. He knows in advance that he will get off with a slap on the wrists. I hope that Hood will confront Melton as he is sworn to do. I hope even more that Melton will lose the attitude and start being the mayor for the city of Jackson as he was sworn in to do. He has already squandered the first eleven months.

Author
lance
Date
2006-06-10T11:45:33-06:00
ID
80065
Comment

I can understand people thinking that about Hood's decision, but I think it's slightly a bit of wishful thinking. I believe Hood that it would be hard to convict Melton on the evidence as it was presented. Then Melton would have really claimed victory once a jury bought his "under threat" letter and such, and it would have been harder than ever to control this actions. Whereas, now, there is a roadmap of what he can and cannot do. After doing the additional reporting, I tend to think Hood did the right thing—and I didn't think I was going to think that. You're certainly correct that it'll be interesting to see what happens now. Melton has indicated to me that he does not plan to stop taking his guns into places that Hood says are restricted, so it will be interesting to see what happens to stop him once he continues doing it. But now he will be in direct defiance of the attorney general if he continues to even carry a gun into City Hall.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-06-10T11:51:47-06:00
ID
80066
Comment

It's frustrating to see people in a position to make a difference. I have not given up on Hood, but it is hard to see things happen on almost a daily basis. His (Hood) knowledge of the law is obviously better than mine or most people for that matter. I hope that his strategy will work. If Melton were prosecuted and convicted, that would just be another black eye for the city to absorb. It would also make it very hard for the next mayor to be effective.

Author
lance
Date
2006-06-10T12:00:18-06:00
ID
80067
Comment

Look at the last sentence on The Clarion-Ledger's story about Melton's latest lunacy today. Hasn't the Ledge gotten the memo that this statement, as they reported already, is not accurate: Last month, Hood concluded in an investigation into Melton's crime-fighting behavior that the mayor had not broken any laws. He did write a letter warning Melton. As he explained in the above interview, it is not accurate to say that "the mahyor had not broken any laws." It is accurate to say that Hood did not believe he had a strong enough case to convince a jury based on the evidence to death. Do they truly not understand the difference?!?

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-06-17T07:57:22-06:00
ID
80068
Comment

I agree with the majority of the public in that this city is not under communist rule. We are not living in Iraq. We will NOT punish the good kids just because the mayor cannot get a grip on the bad ones. IMO this action is probably reflective of some part of Melton's own past. Mayby he was a child that could not be reared by conventional means, or mayby his own kids needed a little something extra to keep them in line. I am just trying to figure out what makes this man tick. Crime has risen at an alarming rate under his administration. The city of New York has reduced their crime rate drastically without involving the military. Can we not do the same? Mayby not under Melton's rule, but it can be done. Melton will probably never admit it openly, but deep within himself he should have realized by now that he was wrong for the way that he attacked the former administration. He probably was even a little envious which could be the reason that he wanted to be the mayor.

Author
lance
Date
2006-06-17T08:23:11-06:00
ID
80069
Comment

BOTTOM LINE "MR MAYOR"> Your background is in broadcasting/business management. Chief Shirlene Anderson's background is in Law Enforcement. I have known Chief Anderson for going on 30 years now. I have also worked with and around her in Law Enforcement. She is VERY!!!!!! well respected from Corinth to Woodville and Tunica to Pascagoula. I have traveled the state and stayed in contact with my Law Enforcement friends. She was well respected 20+ years ago and still is. You are going to get someone hurt,since you have not been through any training academy. She has been through 2 academies. You are without a doubt causing chaos and havoc within the department. I don't have to talk to any of the officers to know that. PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! leave Law Enforcement to Chief Anderson or the city of Jackson is going to be in one heck of a mess sooner than you think.

Author
JanMarKil
Date
2006-09-25T08:02:58-06:00

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