The Official Account of Bob Evans’ Termination as Prentiss Public Defender

Thursday, March 16th, 2006

If you’ll remember back to January, the town of Prentiss, Mississippi fired Bob Evans as its public defender. Evans says this came after the mayor of Prentiss, Charlie Dumas, had warned Evans back in December that if he continued to represent Cory Maye in his appeal, he’d lose his job. Dumas confirmed in January after the Prentiss Board of Aldermen fired Evans that his representation of Maye was indeed why the town would be replacing him.

And, if you’ll remember, I called Mayor Dumas, who confirmed only that he’d had a conversation with Evans subsequent to his firing, but wouldn’t confirm the details of the conversation (although he certainly didn’t deny Evans’ account). I also called all of the towns’ aldermen. I was only able to reach one, Sylvia Ward, who wouldn’t say much of anything to me, only that if I really wanted to know why Evans was fired, I should get a copy of the minutes of the board meeting where the decision was made.

Well, while I was down in Mississippi, I did manage to get my hands on those minutes. They’re dated January 31, 2006. Here’s the PDF.

Probably won’t surprise you to know that they don’t say a damned thing about why Evans was fired. The relevant language:

BOB EVANS, PUBLIC DEFENDERA motion was made by Harold Stamps, duly seconded by Willard Davis, to replace Bob Evans as Public Defender for the Town of Prentiss. Mayor Dumas called for a vote on the motion which carried unanimously. The board will re-appoint another attorney to this position.

I talked to a few peope around Prentiss, including one law enforcement officer, who told me point blank it’s fairly common knowledge among those with ties to local government that Evans was fired for representing Cory.

Seems, though, that town officials were too cowardly to include that reason in the official account of his termination. Perhaps that’s because they knew that what they were doing stunk.

It’s one thing for local officials to hope for a defendant’s conviction in a high-profile, highly-emotional case. It’s quite another to attempt to intimidate the public defender from even giving him fair representation.

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