Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith can continue to retain Tupelo attorney Jim Waide as his attorney. Judge Larry Roberts ruled against an attorney general's motion attempting to disqualify the attorney during a hearing this morning.
Photo by Imani Khayyam.
Special Judge Larry Roberts ruled this morning that Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith can continue to retain Tupelo attorney Jim Waide, as long as he understands the potential consequences.
"I want to make sure you understand," Roberts told Smith, that if prosecutors called Waide to the stand and he refused to testify, that the court could hold him in contempt of court and have him jailed. "That's a possibility. I don't want it to happen."
Smith said he understood, one of the few times that the district attorney has spoken in public since the attorney general's office first arrested and eventually indicted him for two counts of conspiracy and one count of aiding a criminal defendant.
The attorney general's office, which Assistant Attorney Generals Robert Anderson and Larry Baker represent, has planned to use Waide as a witness to testify concerning the context of conversations he had with Smith. Former Assistant District Attorney Ivon Johnson secretly taped the conversations with his then-boss Smith. Johnson recently plead guilty to federal charges of bribery for lowering bonds.
Judge Roberts ruled that not allowing Smith to retain Waide would violate the district attorney's constitutional rights and denied the state's motion.
Waide's motion to quash the indictment, an attempt to reject the charges on more technical terms, pushed back against the vagueness of the charges of conspiracy. Roberts did not agree and denied the motion, adding that he reserved the right to update his decision at a later date after more review of case law the defense had presented.
Roberts also denied the motion to quash the last count against Smith, the criminal charge for assisting a criminal defendant. Waide began his argument by pointing out that attorneys were part-time positions when the law was written. He said the Legislature has not updated the law since the district attorneys in the state went full-time. Roberts said that it was not the duty of the court to overturn legislative action and, therefore, he had to deny the motion.
The court will continue to hear more motions throughout the day.
Email city reporter Tim Summers Jr. at [email protected]. Read more about the controversy surrounding the district attorney at jfp.ms/DAFiles.