Judge Green Warns Attorneys on Gag Order | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Judge Green Warns Attorneys on Gag Order

BREAKING

Hinds County Circuit Judge Tomie Green held a hearing today at 11 a.m. to weigh sanctions against attorneys in the Ridgeway case for violating a gag order she issued last Thursday, threatening attorneys with $2,500 fines for further violations. The hearing comes after Green sealed a motion filed last Thursday by attorney Robert Smith, who represents Marcus Wright. Wright, along with JPD Detective Michael Recio and Mayor Frank Melton, faces a number of felony counts for his involvement in the demolition of a duplex on Ridgeway Street on Aug. 26.

Green, who read from a prepared statement, spoke at length on the gag order she imposed, saying it was essential to a fair trial. "It is the duty of this court to provide the state of Mississippi and the defendants a fair and just trial," Green said. "The cases before this court should not and will not be decided in the court of public opinion. A criminal prosecution is not a popularity contest."

All legal parties involved in the criminal trial were present, including JPD Chief Shirlene Anderson, City Attorney Sarah O'Reilly-Evans, Deputy City Attorney Pieter Teeuwissen, District Attorney Faye Peterson, attorneys Robert Smith and Omar Nelson, along with Wright and Recio. City employee Stephanie Parker-Weaver was in the gallery, though she is not formally involved in the case. Melton did not attend but was represented by counsel.

Green warned attorneys to interpret her gag order broadly. "The court has not been pleased by subtle attempts to violate the gag order in the last week. ... 'No comment' are words that will serve you well," Green said.

Green was candid about her displeasure at the motion filed by Smith on Thursday, which argued that Wright had participated in a DEA raid on the Ridgeway duplex last year. Green sealed the motion that day. "The motion was inartfully pled and misleading on points of law. ... The court does not participate in political games or political maneuvers," Green said.

"From this day forward," she said, "I expect all parties to obey my instructions."

Green said she had waived certain measures the court usually demands of defendants out on bond, such as mandatory alcohol and drug testing. However, she directed the service which monitors defendants out on bond for the court to report immediately any violations to the court. If such violations are reported, Green threatened to impose sanctions including contempt of court, revocation of bond and electronic monitorring.

"The court directs the sheriff's department to stand ready to incarcerate defendants if necessary," Green said. "The court reminds defense attorneys that this court sets the terms of bond, not the district attorney's office."

Green also advised Wright and Recio that it would be in their best interests to stop serving as Melton's bodyguards. "It is neither prudent nor recommended that defendants continue in behavior that may expose them to further charges," Green said.

She also addressed the unfolding civil trial, saying it had no bearing on criminal proceedings. This was an apparent response to comments made by Melton attorney Dale Danks last week, in which he argued that duplex-owner Jennifer Sutton's attorney Dennis Sweet had also violated the gag order. Sweet is not involved in the criminal case.

Green concluded with a comment to the media. "While this court has no control over the media, we ask for our discretion. ... Polls do not determine how a jury will render its verdict. ... The people's right to know must be balanced against the defendants' right to a fair trial. We ask you to focus on what is accurate rather on what is sensational."

-- by Brian Johnson

Previous Comments

ID
124122
Comment

Interesting that she made clear what we were talking about last week—that Dennis Sweet is not a party to this case. Danks would know that. I suspect that his trying to put that out into court of public opinion did not please her: She also addressed the unfolding civil trial, saying it had no bearing on criminal proceedings. This was an apparent response to comments made by Melton attorney Dale Danks last week, in which he argued that duplex-owner Jennifer Sutton's attorney Dennis Sweet had also violated the gag order. Sweet is not involved in the criminal case. Also, our understanding is that Sweet is prominent on the "hit list" that Melton supporters are supposed to be discrediting.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-10-02T13:19:29-06:00
ID
124123
Comment

I think this part is very interesting: Green said she had waived certain measures the court usually demands of defendants out on bond, such as mandatory alcohol and drug testing. However, she directed the service which monitors defendants out on bond for the court to report immediately any violations to the court. If such violations are reported, Green threatened to impose sanctions including contempt of court, revocation of bond and electronic monitorring. "The court directs the sheriff's department to stand ready to incarcerate defendants if necessary," Green said. "The court reminds defense attorneys that this court sets the terms of bond, not the district attorney's office." Green also advised Wright and Recio that it would be in their best interests to stop serving as Melton's bodyguards. "It is neither prudent nor recommended that defendants continue in behavior that may expose them to further charges," Green said. Things that make you go Hmmmm.....!

Author
pikersam
Date
2006-10-02T13:22:33-06:00
ID
124124
Comment

Thanks donna :)

Author
THEWATCHER
Date
2006-10-02T13:24:04-06:00
ID
124125
Comment

You think those monitors get behind the gates to Melton's home? Also, she rather blows away the rhetoric that the D.A. decided on the bond terms. Also, it's interesting that she waived the mandatory alcohol and drug testing part. They might be getting off a bit easy. It's downright crazy, and kinda creepy, that Recio and Wright keep following Melton around as his "bodyguards." It's as if Melton's inner circle are joined at the hip. You'd think now would be good time for Recio and Wright to show some distance from the mayor. Or, maybe they're believing the online polls, too, and think that the prosecution can't find 12 people who would even consider convicting Melton, regardless of the charges and evidence. Anyone who says that is showing utter contempt for Jacksonians—especially the vast majority who didn't turn out to vote for anyone in the last mayoral election.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-10-02T13:27:56-06:00
ID
124126
Comment

I'm glad things got so serious, so quick with these three rergarding bond conditions. They can't help but screw up, so it's only a matter of time before something happens. They've gotten their only warning early in the game. And, again...what's with the peach colored shirts on Wright and Recio?

Author
Cliff Cargill
Date
2006-10-02T13:45:37-06:00
ID
124127
Comment

Peach is the new black. Do you know that a secret MI5 study found that peach is the color most likely to deter would-be snipers, mostly because it's hard to hold a rifle steady while you're giggling?

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2006-10-02T15:07:23-06:00
ID
124128
Comment

Dude you're not right. LOL

Author
Cliff Cargill
Date
2006-10-02T15:25:45-06:00
ID
124129
Comment

Man, I think Peach is a sniping offense. Any guy wearing that should be shot. :D

Author
Ironghost
Date
2006-10-02T21:29:46-06:00
ID
124130
Comment

"The cases before this court should not and will not be decided in the court of public opinion. A criminal prosecution is not a popularity contest." QUOTE O' THE WEEK as far as I'm concerned.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2006-10-02T23:16:34-06:00

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