Jim Hood’s Top Secret Investigation of Michael West

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

On Monday, I noted that in response to some heat he’s taken over the Leigh Stubbs case, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood told a local TV station that his office is looking into 20 cases involving disgraced forensic specialist Michael West.

That was encouraging. But it also seemed strange, given that Hood’s office has consistently defended convictions won on West’s testimony, including in the Stubbs case. It also doesn’t jibe with Hood’s steadfast defense of Steven Hayne over the last few years (whom Hood often used when he was a DA). So yesterday I emailed Hood’s press office a request to speak with whoever is overseeing the West investigation. Or at least for a list of the cases they’re looking into. Or really for any additional information on the investigation.

Here was their reply:

We cannot release any of the information you are requesting at this time.

Hood hasn’t been particularly shy in the past about seeking publicity in the past, including putting out press releases about active criminal investigations. These West cases are at minimum several years old, and I’m pretty sure all of them are in post-conviction. If he is indeed looking into some of them them, I’m not sure what advantage there is to being secretive about it. Particularly if he’s going to announce the existence of the alleged investigation to a TV station in the first place.

I’ll have more on this in a follow-up piece for Huffington Post.

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8 Responses to “Jim Hood’s Top Secret Investigation of Michael West”

  1. #1 |  Stephen | 

    What do you want to bet that the “investigation” is more like cherry picking the 20 cases where West got it right or at least not provably wrong?

  2. #2 |  Ariel | 

    Do you always offer a sucker’s bet? Shame on you. :>)

  3. #3 |  David in Balt | 

    I have always been skeptical of prosecutors, police, generally anyone with authority (as we all should be), and I would more than believe this is all just a PR broo-ha-ha to show the (in Hood’s hopeful mind) 20 cases West got right, but it is not uncommon to not announce the specifics of an open investigation of this kind. -IF- Hood has turned over a new leaf, and -IF- Hood is serious about an investigation, and -IF- Hood is really going to have these reviewed then one has to assume he actually -MIGHT- believe that West is corrupt. Announcing the specifics of an investigation to someone who most likely still has access to all the files (and who is corrupt) of those cases is a really great way for those files to find their way to a shredder or a box in a dank basement in several inches of water.

    Of course those are big if’s, and this is probably just a ploy to show the few cases (if any?) that West hasn’t fucked up, but hey, I like to be an optimist.

  4. #4 |  SJE | 

    I wonder if there is a Federal investigation, and Hood is trying to get on the “good” side to cover his own back.

  5. #5 |  NMissC (Tom Freeland) | 

    Hood’s press secretary does not know how to express a null set.

  6. #6 |  Deoxy | 

    Particularly if he’s going to announce the existence of the alleged investigation to a TV station in the first place.

    The TV announcement IS the entire investigation – it makes him look pro-active, etc, etc. That’s the entire benefit – no reason to waste time on anything else.

  7. #7 |  Stephen | 

    “# #2 | Ariel | August 24th, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    Do you always offer a sucker’s bet? Shame on you. :>)”

    I always prefer to bet against suckers. :) I win more money that way.

  8. #8 |  Jim Hood and “That Other Guy” | The Agitator | 

    […] has also previously mentioned some sort of investigation into West, but his office wouldn’t give me any specifics on what was being investigated, or who was doing the investigating. He has also yet to recommend a […]