Unsealed Docs Unveil Melton's 'House Arrest | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Unsealed Docs Unveil Melton's 'House Arrest

See JFP Melton Blog/Archive here.

A transcript from a Nov. 15, 2006, meeting (PDF, 1.3mb) between Judge Tomie Green and Frank Melton, along with three of his attorneys, in her chambers reveals that the judge helped the mayor downplay the severity of his sentence after he pled to three gun charges. The transcript, unsealed March 6 by the judge in response to a request by Melton attorney Dale Danks, reveals for the first time that in order not to serve jail time, Melton agreed to a stringent form of "house arrest," under which he had to wear an electronic ankle bracelet, had to adhere to a schedule set by his probation officer and could not leave his home without notifying Probations Services Company of his intentions.

Green says during the meeting, recorded by court reporter Kimberly P. Smith, that she had called them there to make sure Melton understood the plea agreement that he had been offered by prosecutors from the attorney general's office. The AG's office had offered Melton a six-month jail sentence, which would be "stayed" for 18 months, meaning that he would not serve it for another year and a half. The alternative to that plea was that Melton would wear an electronic monitoring bracelet and not have to serve any time, instead taking a year's probation.

The judge was concerned that Melton was resisting accepting the ankle bracelet—even though that would mean that he would face a jail term later, saying that it was highly unusual for an offender to turn down an offer of house arrest over jail time. She said she called him there to ask him privately if there was a place he had to go that he didn't want recorded—such as to deal with a medical procedure he didn't want the public to know about. "I wanted to ask you something confidential. … Yesterday when we talked about the plea bargain and we went back and forth, back," she told the four men, "I thought it was a bit odd that Mr. Melton was not taking the plea bargain. I thought it was a good one."

Green told the men that she is not "unreasonable" and wants "people to be straight with me." She then asked: "Is there some place that you're going that you don't want to have that traced?"

"Absolutely not, no, ma'am. No, ma'am," Melton answered. The judge and attorneys then discussed what their understanding of the plea offer was, and she clarified that she does not "stay" sentences and that he would be on "probationԗa word that defense attorneys seemed to shy away from using. However, Green made it clear that Melton would, indeed, be on "probation" if he took the plea.

She then made it clear that even though Melton would be under "house arrestԗa serious alternative to incarceration requiring constant monitoring—that she would not call it that, helping him downplay the severity of it. "I first said house arrest, and then I said I would not call it that. I would call it intense supervision," she said.

"Right," Danks responded.

"That's what it's referred to under MDOC (Mississippi Department of Corrections), which is your ankle bracelet," Green said. She said that Melton would only have to wear the bracelet for three months, if he did not violate the terms, and then it would come off. "[T]hat would wipe out anything other than a year's probation," she added.

"As it related to the bracelet," Danks asked.

"Right. I mean period," Green responded.

"That's the way I interpret it, yes," Danks said.

"Period, the bracelet was going to be the substitute for anything that the AG had offered. He wouldn't have the stay, the suspension or anything. Everything is running. And within a year's time he's off of probation. And in three months' time he's out from under the bracelet," she said. The judge then added that "I thought I was doing a favor. I didn't think I was doing anything that was going to make this situation worse. But the more I went at it, the harder Mr. Cory (a partner of Danks) was arguing. And that didn't seem reasonable to me, and that was why I wanted to come in this morning. And I never asked him why."

She then told Melton that she wasn't asking him whether he planned to do anything illegal. "When I impose intensive supervision, I don't care where people go. They can go where they want. It's just simply an alternative to being locked up."

However, another document Green released Tuesday showed that Probation Services Company does care where criminals go while wearing the bracelet. On Nov. 16, 2006, Melton signed an "Electronic Monitoring Program Participant Agreement" with PSC. The document makes it clear that PSC would enforce "a schedule for employment, school, medical appointments and court matters. There must be no deviation from this schedule unless authorized by a PSC Agent."

This language seems to contradict a motion filed by Danks on Monday that argued that Melton was under no particular curfew as part of his probation. In fact, probation officer Dennis Grant warned him on Jan. 9, 2007, that he was under a midnight to 6 a.m. curfew as part of his probation, and Melton later violated that curfew.

The Nov. 16 agreement also said that Melton "must remain inside your approved residence at all times when scheduled to be home." He could not leave the state without the judge's permission (not just the probation officer). He must allow PSC to make random home and employment checks to confirm his whereabouts. He also had to "notify the PSC Agent immediately if you have any police contact." Melton also could not consume any alcohol or use any illegal substance.

Documents attached to Danks' Monday motion included medical records from Melton's heart surgery in Texas. Those records stated that Melton has a "history of alcohol abuse," confirming an open secret about Melton's heavy alcohol usage. When the Jackson Free Press accompanied Melton on a police raid in April 2006, he smelled strongly of alcohol, slurred his words and seemed to have trouble buckling his gun holster across his chest before leaving on the raid.

The agreement also spelled out how offenders had to notify PSC about any emergency medical procedures—which, along with domestic disputes, are "the only reasons offenders may leave the residence without prior approval. Failure to follow these procedures may result in a violation." The agreement said he had to notify his probation agent by phone immediately of any medical emergency and then provide "written vertification of your arrival and departure time from the hospital at your next weekly meeting." This is a term of his probation that Melton violated, according to Grant and Judge Green, because he did not provide that documentation to the court in a timely manner.

On Feb. 15, 2006, Grant wrote a letter to Green, as required by the probation contract, reporting "possible violations of probation by Mr. Frank Melton." Green included that letter in the exhibits with her March 6 motion.

In that letter, Grant says that Melton called him around 3 p.m. on Feb. 10 "and stated that he and the Police Chief were going to be visiting some nightclubs around the city of Jackson as a part of a safe neighborhood operation or something of that nature. I said to him, 'Just be careful not to violate the conditions of probation.' He said, 'Oh no and we are not taking the command unit.' He then stated 'I have faxed the details of where we are going to your office.' Then he hung up."

Grant learned Monday, he said, about Melton's visit to the Upper Level nightclub. He also found a fax Melton sent to him on Feb. 11 at 5:38 p.m.—more than 15 hours after Melton's early morning visit to the nightclub. "It outlined what had gone on the night before," Grant wrote to the judge.

In that letter, Grant denied telling WAPT that Melton had violated probation—although he was telling the judge that he believed he had. He said Danks had called him complaining about the media report. Grant said he told Danks that what Melton said he had done in his fax was not part of his duties as mayor: "I told him what while I didn't think that was a part of the Mayor's job description that was something for the attorneys and courts to decide."

Danks, Grant said, reassured him it was indeed part of Melton's job. "He said, 'Oh yes he can do it because I did it when I was Mayor,Ҕ Grant remembered Danks telling him.

Later in the letter to Green, he said that he has "always reminded the Mayor of his conditions of Probation," and tried to be "lenient" so he could do his job as mayor. He had asked Melton to let police do their jobs, "especially since the situation with his health has surfaced."

But his advice fell on deaf ears. "The Mayor has never gotten permission from me or no one else to do anything. He tells everybody what he is going to do either after he has done it or when it is too late to stop him from doing it. He knows what his conditions are as well as his attorneys who he tells me advises him to get in back in the community. I have not tried to keep the Mayor from doing his job, maintain his health or anything that I understand is within the bounds of probation."

In his letter to Green, Grant emphasized a point from Melton's PSC agreement that Danks seemed to ignore in his Monday motion—that it is not his job to give offenders "permission" to do what they want. It is his job to have knowledge of what they do and report it to the judge. He reprinted the following paragraph from Melton's PSC agreement:

"I (the offender) accepts full responsibility for my actions during the term of my house detention, and Probation Services Company of Mississippi will not be held responsible for my misconduct. I understand that PSC is not a detention facility; it is a monitoring agency that reports my presence in the home to the court."

This is a story-in-progress. Please check back for updates.

Previous Comments

ID
91450
Comment

These paragraphs, in particular, are remarkable: But his advice fell on deaf ears. “The Mayor has never gotten permission from me or no one else to do anything. He tells everybody what he is going to do either after he has done it or when it is too late to stop him from doing it. He knows what his conditions are as well as his attorneys who he tells me advises him to get in back in the community. I have not tried to keep the Mayor from doing his job, maintain his health or anything that I understand is within the bounds of probation.” In his letter to Green, Grant emphasized a point from Melton’s PSC agreement that Danks seemed to ignore in his Monday motion—that it is not his job to give offenders “permission” to do what they want. It is his job to have knowledge of what they do and report it to the judge. He reprinted the following paragraph from Melton’s PSC agreement: “I (the offender) accepts full responsibility for my actions during the term of my house detention, and Probation Services Company of Mississippi will not be held responsible for my misconduct. I understand that PSC is not a detention facility; it is a monitoring agency that reports my presence in the home to the court.”

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2007-03-07T13:52:51-06:00
ID
91451
Comment

There seems to be a pattern of "because I did it" or "because I've never seen it happen during my tenure."

Author
JenniferGriffin
Date
2007-03-07T14:05:24-06:00
ID
91452
Comment

It seems that Judge Green has dotted every i and crossed every t as it relates to melton's terms of probation. I guess there are people getting cranked up for his "protest rally." The theme for the rally should be: kING WAS JAILED TRYING TO LIFT PEOPLE UP; MELTON WAS JAILED FOR TEARING PEOPLE DOWN. KING DIED FOR YOUR RIGHTS; NOT YOUR WRONGS.

Author
justjess
Date
2007-03-07T14:26:41-06:00
ID
91453
Comment

This language seems to contradict a motion filed by Danks on Monday that argued that Melton was under no particular curfew as part of his probation. In fact, probation officer Dennis Grant warned him on Jan. 9, 2007, that he was under a midnight to 6 a.m. curfew as part of his probation, and Melton later violated that curfew. Anyone recall Melton's state of emergency when he wanted to enforce a curfew on the youth, and said he would even consider a daylight curfew if necessary? If he violates curfew, why should he expect anyone else to obey one?

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-03-07T21:18:22-06:00
ID
91454
Comment

yeah, good point.

Author
Izzy
Date
2007-03-07T21:19:05-06:00
ID
91455
Comment

KING DIED FOR YOUR RIGHTS; NOT YOUR WRONGS. I like that! If I thought I could draw Dr. King well enough, that would be my next T-shirt.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-03-07T21:20:29-06:00
ID
91456
Comment

Danks' remark, "‘Oh yes he can do it because I did it when I was Mayor,’” reminds me of Richard Nixon's infamous standard of legality: "When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal"

Author
Brent Cox
Date
2007-03-08T10:07:40-06:00

Thanks to all our new JFP VIPs!

COVID-19 has closed down the main sources of the JFP's revenue -- concerts, festivals, fundraisers, restaurants and bars. If everyone reading this article gives $5 or more, we should be able to continue publishing through the crisis. Please pay what you can to keep us reporting and publishing.

Comments

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

comments powered by Disqus