Day 1: JFP Blogs Figure Prominently in Voir Dire | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Day 1: JFP Blogs Figure Prominently in Voir Dire

On Monday, defense attorney Merrida Coxwell Jr. conducted voir dire for Melton. In his second question, he asked if any potential juror read or made comments on media blogs, specifically the Jackson Free Press. One prospective juror said he had read the JFP online. Coxwell asked if any had read the JFP in print, describing it as a "little magazine they have outside grocery stores." Altogether, two prospective jurors said they had read articles about the defendants in the JFP, and Webster said attorneys could question them in chambers.

He asked about The Clarion-Ledger, and two said they had read stories on its Web site.

Coxwell returned several times to the media with prospective jurors, asking them if they had formed negative opinions based on media coverage, had they seen a WLBT special on drug sales on Ridgeway, had they formed any negative opinion on the mayor taking a "personal approach to crime."

After Webster dismissed most prospective jurors to the halls, he called back some individually, including Juror No. 23, who said he had read the JFP's blog.

Webster had already said to this prospective juror: "I promise you you're not going to be chosen." But when Juror No. 23, an African-American male, told Coxwell that he had mostly read actual articles on the blog, "skimming through" the comments, Webster said he might have to retract his earlier statement. The prospective juror said he had never posted a comment.

Coxwell asked if articles in the JFP had a negative attitude toward the mayor, but No. 23 said that "some were favorable, some were unfavorable."

Coxwell asked No. 23 if he also read The Clarion-Ledger, and he said he did, though he did not go to their blog.

Finally, No. 23 said his wife works for the city, and Webster dismissed him.

Coxwell also questioned Juror No. 27, a white male, about his admission that he read JFP articles. "I'm distrustful of all media," No. 27 said. Former mayor Dale Danks, who is an attorney for Melton, swept his hand across the 10 members of the media assembled in the balcony.

Previous Comments

ID
127446
Comment

Unbelievable. The Ledger piece manages to write a story about Coxwell's obsession with the blogs without ever mentioning the name of the Jackson Free Press. What are they so damned afraid of??? Merrida Coxwell, one of Melton's attorneys, insinuated there was a negative tone to reports surrounding the mayor and his legal issues. Coxwell asked potential jurors whether they had read stories online about the case and whether they had contributed to user-posted comments. "They (comments) were not favorable to Mayor Melton, were they?" he asked one potential juror. The 40-year-old man, who was not selected to be on the jury, said he had read stories on local media Web sites but had not formed an opinion. Several other potential jurors also said they had read newspaper articles, watched TV broadcasts and even perused blogs. Only one person out of more than 80 raised his hand when asked by the judge who had not seen or heard anything about the case.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-04-24T07:03:30-06:00
ID
127447
Comment

It figures prominently because this is the ONLY place where you can go to get accurate news on Melton. The CL has stories, sure... but no one uses it blog feature. The blog feature, coupled with the most accurate reporting are why I always check here first if I want to know what is going on. The JFP also has a wide variety of posters from different backgrounds that each give their take on what each story "means." That, in my opinion, is priceless. Of course the defense is scared of that. However, they can use it to their advantage to see how each profession (on the blog at least) views Melton and his legal "troubles." (In quotes because of my sarcasm. It's all self-inflicted...) Keep up the great work, and maybe during trial he'll mention something about Fish's posts!!!! bwahahaha! lc

Author
LawClerk
Date
2007-04-24T07:21:57-06:00
ID
127448
Comment

That truly is amazing considering that the question they quote Coxwell asking was specifically about the JFP.

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2007-04-24T07:25:40-06:00
ID
127449
Comment

I'm not worthy.

Author
Kingfish
Date
2007-04-24T07:28:44-06:00
ID
127450
Comment

I suppose it's an honor for them to be more scared of the JFP rather than the Clarion Liar. Which figures, since everyone knows you're not going to find the truth in Gannett's Bird Cage Liner.

Author
Ironghost
Date
2007-04-24T07:54:13-06:00
ID
127451
Comment

WAPT is streaming trial video NOW www.wapt.com lc

Author
LawClerk
Date
2007-04-24T08:01:54-06:00
ID
127452
Comment

Opening statements are on right now... Stanley Alexander, ADA, is doing them. Amazing.... I think the funniest thing I've heard in a looong time is this: ADA- "They loaded up the Mobile Command Center, and witnesses will tell you that Melton was loaded too" WOW!!!!!!! Ok, they just cut off coverage b/c the ADA said the F-BOMB! AHHHH!!!!! Oh man....

Author
LawClerk
Date
2007-04-24T08:08:24-06:00
ID
127453
Comment

all right, how come when i try to get the video my mcafee gives me a message saying bo-heap detected and i can't stream?

Author
Kingfish
Date
2007-04-24T08:28:24-06:00
ID
127454
Comment

Good work, JFP, on your reporting on MM's trial. Let's see if you can figure out the name of the "doctor" on the jury. Can't imagine he/she is an MD. HDM

Author
HDMatthias, MD
Date
2007-04-24T08:47:22-06:00
ID
127455
Comment

So, does this mean that if you are a blogger you have automatically given up you right to participate in the judicial process? This is insane. If Danks and his team were so worried about the JFP, why didn't he push for a change of venue? I will take this opportunity to SALUTE the JFP. It is the only real news outlet we have. We can always depend on the reporting of the facts and know that the journalist are not trying to tweak stories to fit ideas that play to a certain mind set.

Author
justjess
Date
2007-04-24T08:52:04-06:00
ID
127456
Comment

Doc said, Let's see if you can figure out the name of the "doctor" on the jury. Can't imagine he/she is an MD. I was wondering about that. I can imagine the following conversation: "I'm sorry, but Dr. Bob is not available to deliver your baby today: he's been sequestered. We do have Dr. Teeth available, however..."

Author
Lady Havoc
Date
2007-04-24T10:16:00-06:00
ID
127457
Comment

"It figures prominently because this is the ONLY place where you can go to get accurate news on Melton. The CL has stories, sure... but no one uses it blog feature. The blog feature, coupled with the most accurate reporting are why I always check here first if I want to know what is going on." In response to this statement, I enjoy reading JFP and CL and trying to get a lot of different info on the events. I don't know of any news source 100% accurate. There is always going to be some personal bias in media. Anyway, bravo to all that report on the events and help keep us informed. The great thing about the trial verses anything Melton has or has not wiggled out of in the past is this time a jury will decide.

Author
Davey
Date
2007-04-24T10:44:32-06:00
ID
127458
Comment

There is always going to be some personal bias in media. Of course there is. Any outlet that pretends to have no bias is lying to you, and is probably the most biased. The biggest problem with The Clarion-Ledger's brand of bias is that it is scared to tell the truth and let the chips fall where they may.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-04-24T10:53:38-06:00
ID
127459
Comment

speaking of bias, its kind of funny how some people just KNEW because the judge was a retired white guy appointed by the Supreme Court the fix would be in. So far, he's been pretty straigtforward and focused on moving things along and not putting up with any BS. I also liked the way he shot down the defense motions. Some people don't like it that he is not allowing the alchohol-related testimony but ultimately, it doesn't have anything to do with convicting Frank. Either he broke the law or he didn't. The consumption of alcohol doesn't really have any bearing on whether his actions took place.

Author
Kingfish
Date
2007-04-24T10:58:47-06:00
ID
127460
Comment

I agree with you for the most part, 'Fish. I do think it's odd how much he has allowed in the opening statement and early questioning about the history of drugs at the house. That has nothing to do with what happened that night. I wonder from the defense attorneys: How often in non-celebrity-mayor cases do judges allow prosecution to make the point that the defendant might have been drunk?

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-04-24T11:01:29-06:00
ID
127461
Comment

But, the fact that they would quote Coxwell without even mentioning the JFP while he is talking about the JFP is very petty and is bound to not be sound journalism.

Author
pikersam
Date
2007-04-24T11:02:19-06:00
ID
127463
Comment

if anything, wouldn't it be something the defense would use in this case?

Author
Kingfish
Date
2007-04-24T11:02:29-06:00
ID
127462
Comment

For instance, right now the judge is allowing Coxwell to ask about drugs in the house two weeks before. ?

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-04-24T11:02:29-06:00
ID
127464
Comment

Yeah, I wondered that, too, 'Fish. Go with the poor-sick-alcoholic excuse.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-04-24T11:03:01-06:00
ID
127465
Comment

being drunk is not a legal excuse.

Author
LawClerk
Date
2007-04-24T11:20:34-06:00
ID
127466
Comment

Well, is anything the defense is arguing a "legal defense" for these crimes? Aren't we talking about basic emotion-pulling on the jury here?

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-04-24T11:24:47-06:00
ID
127467
Comment

Kingfish, I disagree that the alcohol- related testimony "doesn't have any bearing on whether his actions took place." This is an oxymoron: EVAN WELCH WAS A CRACKHEAD AND SOLD CRACK: THAT'S WHY FRANK TORE HIS HOUSE DOWN. frank melton IS AN ALCOHOLIC AND WAS DRUNK ON THE NIGHT HE TORE THE HOUSE DOWN: THAT'S WHY IT HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH WHY HE TORE THE HOUSE DOWN. This information is important in an accident. Why isn't it admissable and important to this case. The Judge might be fair and I am trying to give him every benefit of the doubt; however, I think that he was giving Danks an edge to try to protect some level of integrity for melton. Again, it is so hard sometimes to "Call the Wolf Ugly."

Author
justjess
Date
2007-04-24T11:24:54-06:00
ID
127468
Comment

1. Because there is a procedure for tearing down "crackhouses". YOu can legally do it, you just have to follow the rules. The issue is that Frank and the Meltons broke that law among others. Frank has claimed all along its a crackhouse, so therefore, that is why drug-related testimony is allowed. 2. The alcohol issue has nothing to do with this. Either he broke the law or he didn't. I likely would've allowed it but it has no bearing on whether he is guilty of the alleged offenses.

Author
Kingfish
Date
2007-04-24T11:31:55-06:00
ID
127469
Comment

I just realized something funny about The Clarion-Ledger. Their top two special story banners on their Web site—"Melton on Trial" and "Forgotten Killings"—are for stories that the JFP broke: the Ridgeway demolition and the fact that James Ford Seale was still alive and could stand trial. They then try to piggyback off our work and make a big deal out of it, while pointedly not mentioning our leading role in those stories. What a joke.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-04-24T12:07:10-06:00
ID
127470
Comment

When you (all) are talking about drugs and alcohol, are you referring to Welch or M&M (Mayor Melton)? HDM

Author
HDMatthias, MD
Date
2007-04-24T12:48:59-06:00
ID
127471
Comment

Frank and the Meltons, M&M...hilarious. We should make a list of all of the mayor's nicknames. I would like to add Doctor Do-Very-Little to the list. :-) Dr. Matthias, usually Welch = drugs and Melton = alcohol.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-04-24T14:01:50-06:00

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