Jim Hood and “That Other Guy”

Monday, October 17th, 2011

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood gave an interview to the Jackson Free Press last week. Most of it is the nauseating fluff you usually hear from politicians. Hood also wants to take a more active role in “policing the Internet,” whatever that means. He also wants to make it a felony to witness a felony and not report it. And he wants to do lots of things for the children. And orphans and widows. The man is nothing if not bold.

But here’s the fun part:

Last year, you spoke out against a bill that would require a pathologist in Mississippi to hold an American Board of Pathology certification saying it threatened cases involving Steve Hayne. Can you explain your position?

There has been a misconception, and (JFP managing editor) Ronni Mott did this. … She didn’t listen to what I had told her as well as that other guy who writes for the paper (freelancer and then-Reason magazine columnist Radley Balko). Dr. (Michael) West is someone we have investigated, and I don’t support him in any matter. It’s not that I have supported Steven Hayne in any matter. What I have said are the facts: When I was a DA, he testified against me in criminal cases. I always found him to do a good job. By saying that, they assume I am just supporting him all the way, which is absolutely not true.

I don’t know what Hood means when he ways that he doesn’t support West “in any matter,” but his office most certainly continues to defend convictions won based on West’s testimony. In at least two cases, Eddie Lee Howard and Leigh Stubbs, Hood’s office argued that the defendant was procedurally barred from asking for a new trial because of West, because they’d already challenged his testimony and had been denied. If Hood truly believes West isn’t a credible witness, why is he asking that people convicted due to West’s testimony be kept in prison (or in Howard’s case, on death row) on a technicality?

Hood 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 single conviction be overturned because it was tainted by West’s testimony. West’s lack of credibility has been common knowledge in the Mississippi legal community for well over a decade. What’s taking so long?

As for Hayne, Hood has also previously made the claim that Hayne often testified for the defense back when Hood was a prosecutor, thus I guess establishing Hayne’s impartiality. I’ve yet to find a single example of this. It may have happened, but it certainly wasn’t common, and was dwarfed by the thousands of times Hayne testified for the state. The last time Hood made this claim, I asked his office for a list of cases where Hayne testified for the defense, against Hood when Hood was a prosecutor.  Hood’s office did not respond to my request.

More from Hood:

As far as the legislation goes, what I was saying was if Dr. Hayne has done all these examinations, and say it was several years before—and you know it takes two or three years sometimes before a case goes to trial—then when he goes to take the witness stand, and the statute passes, they are going to be hammering him with the law. And trying to keep him on and qualified in a murder case that occurred before we passed the law will be difficult. … The second thing about a pathologist is that very seldom do they make or break a case. All they say is the manner of death and cause of death, and that’s about it.

The first part of this graph is clearly incorrect. The law passed, and Hayne is still testifying in those old cases. Thing is, the scenario Hood fears should be happening in Mississippi—and a hell of a lot more. Mississippi should be reviewing every case in which Hayne or West has ever testified. But it isn’t. And the law in question wouldn’t have done anything of the sort. It only made sure someone like Hayne couldn’t do autopsies for the state going forward. Hood is either really dumb, or he knew this, and spread misinformation anyway. Neither scenario speaks particularly well of him.

The last statement in the graph above is also plainly false. It may be the case that the testimony from a competent medical examiner doesn’t usually make or break a case, but Hayne often gave testimony that turned a case, and in a number of cases, that testimony was later found lacking by more credible medical examiners. There are currently three men on death row (two in Mississippi, one in Louisiana) who are there because of critical testimony from Hayne (and in the Louisiana case, also because of West). And Kennedy Brewer and Levon Brooks, both exonerated, would never have been convicted were it not for Hayne’s propensity to find bite marks no other doctor had seen, and for West’s “talent” to then match them to the state’s favored suspect. The state had no other evidence.

Digg it |  reddit |  del.icio.us |  Fark

21 Responses to “Jim Hood and “That Other Guy””

  1. #1 |  b | 

    amigo, credulous =/= credible.

  2. #2 |  Radley Balko | 

    Brain lapse. Thanks. And fixed.

  3. #3 |  Rune | 

    You are apparently sticking so much in his craw that he can’t speak your name Radley. Good for you.

  4. #4 |  CyniCAl | 

    1st — they ignore you
    2nd — they ridicule you
    3rd — they fight you
    4th — you win


  5. #5 |  adam | 

    Hood is lucky he is not in jail with his buddy Dickie Scruggs.

  6. #6 |  pam | 

    And don’t forget about 13 year old Tyler Edmonds. He was acquitted at his second trial the one in which Hayne was not allow to proffer his “two fingers on the trigger” theory.

    Plus I don’t think any law passed by the MS legislature was going to hurt Hayne’s ability to testify at trials since the MS Supreme Court deemed him credible and qualified.

    Hood sounds desperate.

  7. #7 |  SJE | 

    This is such BS that proves Hood is unfit for office. Either
    (1) He was duped by Hayne and West, in which case he is so stunningly incompetent and stupid as to disqualify him from any position of authority OR
    (2) He used manufactured testimony from people who are established to be frauds to put people in jail and sentenced them to death, in which case he is knowingly corrupting justice. He should be tried and jailed.

  8. #8 |  AMG | 


  9. #9 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Hood still is of the mind that people in his position get to make up history and change their story as they see fit and no one can call them on it. Sure, this was true 30 years ago

    Nice point-by-point explanation of how Hood is a goddamn liar.

  10. #10 |  Bob | 

    “He also wants to make it a felony to witness a felony and not report it.”

    Oh yeah, the police won’t totally abuse that at all! Nope!

  11. #11 |  Judi | 

    “He also wants to make it a felony to witness a felony and not report it.”

    How ironic. Isn’t it a felony to tamper with evidence? So if I’m right, HOOD is guilty of a felony since he has not reported Hayne and West…hmmmm?

  12. #12 |  pam | 

    Judi, silly girl, he’s immune.

  13. #13 |  Listabelle | 

    My elderly addled aunt is being thoroughly fleeced by telephone and mail scam artists and his office won’t do anything to help.

  14. #14 |  Anderson | 

    Unfortunately, for his opponent, the GOP is running someone with a fair shot at being even worse than Hood is.

    So it’s not like we yokels have a great deal of choice in our AG’s race.

  15. #15 |  stephanie | 

    Hood is more interested in drawing a paycheck than doing his JOB!!!! He is letting innocent people sit in prison for things they clearly did not do and refuses to call the DA’s offices on any of it. He’s too scared it will hurt his chances on winning!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  16. #16 |  Mississippi Innocence Project » Blog Archive » Attorney General Jim Hood comments on Dr. Hayne and Dr. West | 

    […] http://www.theagitator.com/2011/10/17/jim-hood-and-that-other-guy/ Posted on October 18, 2011 in: Legislation/Policy, Miscellaneous, Mississippi Innocence Justice|Jump To Comments […]

  17. #17 |  Freeman | 

    Misprision of felony was an offence under the common law of England and was classified as a misdemeanour. It consisted of failing to report knowledge of a felony to the appropriate authorities.

    It is still enforced in the US at the federal level but requires active concealment of a known felony rather than merely failing to report it.

    Most other countries have have discarded the crime.


  18. #18 |  Carole | 

    It is a forgone conclusion that the Jackson Free Press will endorse Hood for another term. It doesn’t matter how much pablum and half-truths he feeds them they’ll huff then puff but Hood knows they’ll still give him the nod regardless.

  19. #19 |  Jim Hood’s “Investigation” of Michael West | The Agitator | 

    […] I’ve written a couple times about how Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood has claimed that his office is […]

  20. #20 |  More on Jim Hood’s “Investigation” of Michael West | Outlooks & Insights | 

    […] I’ve written a couple times about how Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood has claimed that his office is […]

  21. #21 |  The 2011 Worst Prosecutor of the Year Award | The Agitator | 

    […] you to my write-ups for his 2008 and 2010 nominations. Read those, then read here, here, here, and here to see how Hood further distinguish himself over the last […]