More on Jim Hood’s “Investigation” of Michael West

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

So I’ve written a couple times about how Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood has claimed that his office is “investigating” the forensic bite mark fraud Michael West. I also pointed out that that it’s odd that Hood would claim he’s conducting this investigation just as his election opponent began criticizing him about West and Steven Hayne, that Hood has never mentioned such an investigation before, and that when I asked his office for even the most basic of details about the alleged investigation, they refused to provide me with any information.

Tonight I spoke on a panel in Oxford, Mississippi, about the Kennedy Brewer and Levon Brooks cases, just after a screening of Mississippi Innocence, a documentary about the two men and what they endured. (It’s a wonderful film, by the way. And if you’re human, it will make you weep.) Just before the movie started, I got a call from Tucker Carrington, director of the Mississippi Innocence Project. Carrington was down state for a hearing in the Leigh Stubbs case, a case in which Hood’s office is (once again) defending a conviction won primarily due to West’s testimony. (But it’s okay! Because Hood is investigating West!)

Carrington and his organization are representing Stubbs. So this afternoon, they asked the judge to order the state to turn over all material related to Hood’s alleged investigation of West, citing his statement to a local TV station a couple of weeks ago. According to Carrington, an assistant district attorney from Hood’s office then stood up and told the judge that he was the one who was overseeing the West investigation. So what materials would he be handing over? What has this meticulous investigation turned up?  The ADA said that so far, well more than a decade after West has been exposed as a fraud, nearly eight years after Hood first took office, three-and-a-half years after Kennedy Brewer and Levon Brooks were exonerated after both were wrongly convicted of murder almost exclusively because of Steven Hayne and Michael West, 10 years after West was again revealed as a fraud in a sting conducted by a defense attorney—after all of that,  the guy overseeing the West investigation has so far . . . wait for it!  . . . done a Westlaw search on Michael West’s name.

That’s it. That’s the extent of the “investigation.” If you aren’t a lawyer, a Westlaw search is basically the legal-world equivalent of a Google search.

Let’s put this more bluntly: Jim Hood is full of shit. Meanwhile, the Mississippi press’s interest in the AG’s race and all of these issues apparently boils down to who bought dinner for whom at a steakhouse.Two years ago.

If, like me, you’ve ever wondered how the hell this scandal percolated for the better part of two decades, affected thousands of cases, sent innocent people to prison, allowed guilty people to remain free to commit more crimes, and no one gave a damn . . . well, I guess there’s your answer.

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78 Responses to “More on Jim Hood’s “Investigation” of Michael West”

  1. #1 |  the innominate one | 

    too bad Hood, West and Hayne can’t (or, at least, won’t) be prosecuted for false imprisonment, perjury, misprision, etc.

  2. #2 |  Samsam von Virginia | 

    “If, like me, you’ve ever wondered how the hell this scandal percolated for the better part of two decades…”

    Humans let West destroy innocent lives
    Humans elected Hood
    Humans elected the villainous scum in Washington
    Humans worship Che Guevara
    Humans watch reality TV

    “And if you’re human, it will make you weep”

    You keep using that word. I do not thin it means what you think it means.

  3. #3 |  Stanely Ketchel, Middleweight | 

    I saw the presentation last night. Didn’t make me weep. I’m all cried out.

    The focus was/is on symptoms of the problem. Nobody addressed the fundamental “good ole boy” post-feudal power structure. The system in Mississippi is precisely the same as it has been at least for the last fifty or so years. “Structure” is the word to focus on. It hasn’t changed just because there are black practitioners of the same system, just means you got black GOB’s.

    The courts are fundamentally flawed. Judges elected by the least well-educated electorate in the country, no pre-election qualification. (Except money or political capital.) Take a look at the Secretary of State’s website for campaign financing of judicial campaigns.

    Admitted to the bar? You’re good enough to sit on the bench in a court of record or appellate court. High school diploma, or GED, and you’re ok for justice court judge.

    The Commission on Judicial Performance is an utter sham. A job for a political crony of the Governor who lost his bid for re-election. The bar itself is dysfunctional. Last night amongst the spectators was a “lawyer” recently convicted of trespassing into a woman’s home and assaulting her while attempting to force himself upon her sexually. That would be grounds for some sort of sanction in a rational bar, wouldn’t it? (Currently the Supreme Court is circulating for comment changes to the rules of professional conduct that would allow for emergency suspension where there is danger of public harm — to catch up with our neighboring jurisdictions.)

    There are no entrance requirements for the state university system. Pitiful credentials required to get in to the public law school. Fewer still to get into MC. Laughable bar requirements. Dumb lawyers make dumb judges, dumb legislators. Dumb judges and legislators make dumb laws. Dumb cops enforce dumb laws. And where there is no fear of sanction, anything and I mean ANYTHING goes. Do you think it’s an accident that the Innocence Project is pretty much an out-of-jurisdiction entity?

    Justice Banks said one thing of note, Mississippi voters are in LOVE with the death penalty, and Jim Hood, Forrest Allgood, Hailey Barbour are only giving them want they want. If you’re looking for corruption you do not have to look very far. Last evening you sat in the very belly of the beast. Go to the courthouse this morning. There is a term of circuit court going on. Watch.

    If you think Jim Hood is dumb, corrupt and fundamentally evil take a look at his successor in court this morning. You want scandal? Ask questions. While you’re at it, walk across to Oxford city court. His predecessor is judge there. Ask him tough questions about HIS DP cases, the people HE put on death row (and who remain there, or have been killed). Neither of those bozos were smart enough to get into the public law school. Jim Hood was. Think about that.

  4. #4 |  Chuchundra | 

    Somewhat related:

    Spark of Truth: Can Science Bring Justice to Arson Trials?

    http://discovermagazine.com/2011/nov/12-spark-truth-science-bring-justice-arson-trials/article_print

  5. #5 |  ktc2 | 

    The best two word explanation for many of the ills our society faces today is “bad journalism”. If this kind of work would get half the coverage that useless “celebrities” like Paris Hilton and Snooki get Hayne, West, Hood and their ilk would have been imprisoned long ago.

  6. #6 |  Price | 

    I’ve never seen a more appropriate time to have a campaign slogan with T-shirts that say “Bite Me.”

  7. #7 |  marco73 | 

    Follow up questions are a lost art to today’s journalist.

    Hood says they have an investigation going.

    Couldn’t someone at the press conference ask who ‘s investigating, who they are talking to, what cases are part of the investigation, when will we get updates, what can we review now, who can the public contact if they have relevant information?

    Then let Hood harumph with non answers. Every time he comes before the press, he’ll have to give more non answers. Nothing will happen, but at least the story will stay alive.

    If he is stupid enough to actually provide any answers, then as deadlines slip he can be held accountable.

    But Hood is following the tired and true bureaucratic method: We’re not sure how long this investigation will take, we will talk to whoever we need, we wil not disclose any results until the investigation is complete to ensure confidentiality, trust us we are professionals.

  8. #8 |  NMissC (Tom Freeland) | 

    The article is clear, but I believe the person who described the “investigation” was an assistant attorney general (that is, from Hood’s office) and not an assistant district attorney (from the local prosecutor’s office).

  9. #9 |  Dave Krueger | 

    You’re obviously viewing this whole thing through criminal-coddling, bleeding-heart, victim-hating glasses. You need to put your tough-on-crime, let-god-sort-‘em-out glasses.

  10. #10 |  Dante | 

    #5 Price

    Awesome.

  11. #11 |  Judi | 

    I’m having a “Peanuts” moment here. You know…when the adults are saying something in the cartoon and it comes out, “Whaaa, whaaa, whaaa.”

    That’s the dialogue I hear from the AG’s office.

  12. #12 |  C.W. Roberson | 

    I’m grateful that we have people like you, Radley, keeping the fire hot in places where they should be feeling the heat. It’s amazing that you seem to be one of the few who actually hangs on and keeps at these issues, trying to get them resolved, improved, changed.

    It was great to hear you speak last night; I’ve been following your coverage of these cases for a long time, but nothing like a live discussion to impress things on one’s mind that might have slipped by without sticking.

  13. #13 |  Rojo | 

    Just, wow. That’s even more cynical than I typically expect from DAs. Don’t they have people trained in the art of bullshit that are able to carry out your standard investigatory whitewash?

    Also, off-topic, but can I ask the pro-capitalist libertarian agitatortots (and I mean that nickname fondly) to tell this anti-capitalist libertarian their thoughts on Representative John Mica’s proposals on how to deal with the monster that is the TSA?

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/24/john-mica-tsa_n_1028898.html

    I’m not trolling, I’m actually curious as to responses.

    My view is that Mica is relatively accurate in his criticisms, but that his solution of privatization “under government control” (for “control” read “protection,” to my mind) would both retain the abusiveness and increase the budgetary fraud through regulatory capture.

  14. #14 |  Acksiom | 

    Speaking of tough followup questions –what’s the gender breakdown on these people’s victims, Radley?

  15. #15 |  Griffin3 | 

    #3 Chuchundra — amazingly on-topic, actually. Excellent article.

    #1 the innominate one — Well, you won’t have any luck prosecuting them in the legal system, wink wink, nudge nudge …

  16. #16 |  tarran | 

    Rojo – I think you are spot on. The problem isn’t w/ the TSA structure, but rather in the entire concept of a TSA – the notion that anyone who buys a plane ticket is a potential murderer bent on creating mayhem.

    There are manifold ways of dealing with the problem of aircraft security ranging from DIY systems were passengers are once again allowed to bring guns into the cabin (as they were before the Palestinian hijackings of the 70’s and the Cooper incident), to the El-Al system of intense screening. The problem is that airlines are not given latitude to experiment. There are no cost-benefit analysis. There are no fears of lawsuits if, for example, the customers currently being irradiated start having massively elevated levels of cancer 5, 10 years down the road.

    The question of whether the TSA functions should be done by contractors or public employees invariably brings to mind this scene from My Cousin Vinny.

  17. #17 |  Acksiom | 

    Do your clothes fit well, Rojo?

    I’m not a tot, but my thoughts are that over 10x as many of us have committed suicide every single year since 2001 as were killed in the 9/11 attacks.

    And that TTBOMK the federal government spends about $40 million/year on suicide research and prevention.

    And that the federal government now spends about $7.4 BILLION/year on the TSA.

    And that Flight 93 means no more conversions of passenger jets to WMDs, so the average death toll from a terrorist hijacking would be about 300.

    And that the TSA would therefore have to be preventing over 100 hijackings per year just to approach parity with the suicide rate.

    And that we’re trillions of dollars in debt, so if we’re going to be spending money on preventing tragic, senseless deaths, maybe we should be spending it on the actual tragic, senseless deaths that we actually know are actually happening.

    And that you and everybody else here will ignore all this because suicide is primarily a male victimization issue, and you’d rather keep everybody trained and programmed from birth to devalue men and boys, including the men and boys themselves, so that your costs for resources, manufacturing, infrastructure, defense, and so on will be cheaper in exchange for their lives.

    Now, how does that suit you?

  18. #18 |  NMissC (Tom Freeland) | 

    Acksiom, Leigh Stubbs is a woman. The two defendants in the Mississippi Innocence cases were guys. I’m not sure gender enters into it except to the extent it is part of the thinking of law enforcement when they pick out folks to pin crimes on.

  19. #19 |  Acksiom | 

    Tom@17:

    http://digitalcommons.law.ggu.edu/ggulrev/vol20/iss3/3/

    http://www.deathpenalty.org/article.php?id=568

    And, for an inverse example to further support the argument –i.e., pay attention to what isn’t addressed in the article:

    http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2011/09/ruth-bader-ginsburg-death-penalty-gender-equality-and-that-elephant-ride-with-scalia/

    I’m pretty sure gender enters into it a lot more than that, and I’m pretty sure you’re not in no small part precisely because of the reason I gave @16.

  20. #20 |  omar | 

    El-Al system of intense screening.

    It’s hard to describe how violating El-Al screening is compared to the TSA. If you haven’t been through it as a suspicious person (like your daddy is from an Arab country), you simply have no idea. An hour or two of intense fast-pace professional interrogations, strip searches, luggage torn apart, machine guns pointed, locked in airport jail. No food, no water. Departing Ben Gurion It’s the most frightening thing I’ve ever done, and I’ve done it twice.

    I’m at my wits end with flying in America, but going back to Israel simply scares the shit out of me because I know I’ll have to leave through the airport at some point, and those security dudes are going to do everything they can to destroy my last shred of dignity. When people suggest we adopt El-Al style security in this country, I shake. TSA is a scam, a joke, and a time-wasting monster. It’s got nothing on El-Al in the humiliation department though.

  21. #21 |  StrangeOne | 

    The power of the press is in what they choose not to cover. This being a primary example of that abuse. Of course its nothing new, take a course in the pre-emancipation south and look at all the contemporary documents (journals, personal accounts, and private letters) about slave uprisings and the horrible abuses that system perpetuated, then try to find one mention of them in the papers of the time.

    Kudos to Radley for being one of the good guys, and trying to bring light to these terrible events.

  22. #22 |  Dante | 

    #18 Omar

    I remember going through security at Lod Airport (what Ben Gurion Airport used to be called).

    I was questioned and strip-searched down to my underwear. They screamed at me to “stop lying”. All sorts of threats were issued. Finally, they believed I was no threat and let me go when I started to cry.

    I was 7 years old.

  23. #23 |  Matt | 

    Rojo:

    I don’t really see why the TSA needs to exist at all. The organization that has the biggest incentive to keep planes from exploding is the airlines themselves, as if planes routinely exploded/were hijacked/etc no one would fly and they would make no money. It is the airlines responsibility to keep the passengers safe, and as passengers are entering into a private contract with passengers (in this case, passengers are providing money and the airlines are providing air travel) I think it should be up to the airlines to determine how this safety is achieved.

    As for whether a private company working under “government oversight” would be better or worse than the TSA, I’m not exactly sure. If they are heavily unionized and regulated as the TSA is I imagine they would be exactly the same but with different uniforms.

  24. #24 |  Rojo | 

    “And that you and everybody else here will ignore all this because suicide is primarily a male victimization issue, and you’d rather keep everybody trained and programmed from birth to devalue men and boys, including the men and boys themselves, so that your costs for resources, manufacturing, infrastructure, defense, and so on will be cheaper in exchange for their lives.”

    Well this seems a tad presumptuous to assume based on my one critical query about the TSA. And I have no clue what you’re even getting at when you ask me if my “clothes fit well.” What does that even mean?

    @Omar, Yes I think I would object to the Israeli model being imposed on us as well, especially as a brown man with a beard, although I was pleased with the rest of Tarran’s response.

  25. #25 |  Rojo | 

    @Matt

    Yes, I probably should have mentioned that my view is also that the TSA should just be abolished.

    Sorry to thread hijack, but does anyone have any knowledge on why the cockpit doors were not just secured pre-flight before 9/11? Was that just an oversight on everybody’s part or were there either business and/or regulatory reasons for that? Because that would certainly have prevented the planes being used as bombs.

  26. #26 |  crzybob | 

    “The organization that has the biggest incentive to keep planes from exploding is the airlines themselves”

    And we learned how well that works on 9/11. Didn’t we?

    The airlines had all been officially warned to reinforce their cockpit doors after a 1997 french hijacking that intended to crash an airliner into the eiffel tower. Every airline (except virgin atlantic) failed to heed the warning because of the cost ($200 per plane). unless you are going to institute personal liability for negligence to individual shareholders the private sector will fail to provide adequate protection to the public for low probability events. This isn’t theoretical, its been demonstrated over and over again.

    You either need absolute personal liability, or a strict regulatory regime. the problem with the personal liability solution is that no airline would exist.

  27. #27 |  CyniCAl | 

    @#2 | Samsam von Virginia

    I prefer the word “primate.” Gets to the heart of the matter.

  28. #28 |  omar | 

    $200 per plane

    Citation please. An airplane costs many millions of dollars. I would wager that the shitty food cart the airline attendants push around costs in the thousands. I have a very hard time believing a reinforced cockpit door costs $200.

  29. #29 |  Mattocracy | 

    “And we learned how well that works on 9/11. Didn’t we?”

    Yeah, the CIA, FBI, NSA, NY Port Autority also failed that day.

    I do think that a lawsuit or two after 9/11 bringing up this issue of reinforced doors was needed, but if I remember correctly the airlines were shielded from such lawsuits after the attack. I tried to do a quick google search but I’m at work and can’t realy go through every link there.

    What the US Isreal don’t do that would make us safest is stop doing the dumb shit that makes people want to blow us up. Heaven forbid.

  30. #30 |  Dupree | 

    Forget locked cockpit doors! Forty-years ago Archie Bunker provided the ultimate solution to airline hijackings. No one listened.

    Archie Bunker’s MAD(Mutually Assured Destruction) solution to airline hijackings.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRWqaYdxI_I

  31. #31 |  John Thacker | 

    So, Radley, is it safe to say that, to the extent you endorse anyone, Steve Simpson is your choice for Mississippi AG?

    It is, I think, going to be difficult to get anyone to spend the time to go back and see that justice is done in past cases. But at least Simpson did the right thing in seeing that justice might be done going forward, unlike Hood.

  32. #32 |  John Thacker | 

    What the US Isreal don’t do that would make us safest is stop doing the dumb shit that makes people want to blow us up. Heaven forbid.

    I dislike this sort of argument. Not least because if you read the biographies of people like Sayyid Qutb, even things like a mixed sex church social dance in a dry town in 1949 were enough to justify bombings and hate.

    Ordinary people hate us because of aspects of foreign policy, yes. But the people who actually take it to the level of blowing us up tend to be so crazy (and rare) that they’ll get set off by lots of things.

    The biggest change is that before 9/11, people expected that if they sat tight during hijacking, they’d be fine. Now, they don’t. Between the doors being strengthened and passengers themselves overwhelming people who act suspiciously, we really don’t have a threat.

    The added security we have actually kills people. It convinces people to drive instead of fly.

  33. #33 |  Dupree | 

    “Yeah, the CIA, FBI, NSA, NY Port Autority also failed that day.”~Mattocracy

    And those 80-plus security cameras at the Pentagon failed, too.

    Then there was the “live” on the ground feed that Jim Miklaszewski promised to Katie Couric during his audio broadcast, when “an explosion of some sort shook the windows” of the Pentagon. No sounds of the engines of a Boeing 757 were reported. Miklaszewski states he was approximately 200 yads from the “impact” site.

    That “live” feed never occurred and in all the re-runs of the events surrounding the Pentagon, nothing came from Jim Miklaszewski. The audio seemed to have been flusdhed down a memory hole. I found it five-years later on Daily Motion upload from an Italian poster. It is now on YouTube.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uft90QQfuFU

  34. #34 |  Russ 2000 | 

    <i.Couldn’t someone at the press conference ask…

    No.

    The whole point of a press conference is to avoid one-on-one questioning. The pathetic part of journalism is that they even SHOW UP at a press conference. A press conference is nothing but a giant FUCK YOU to the press and it’s readers/listeners/viewers. Basically it’s free advertising the press is happy to provide. And they wonder why they can’t make any money.

  35. #35 |  Russ 2000 | 

    And we learned how well that works on 9/11. Didn’t we?

    No, we didn’t.

    If the airlines weren’t subsidized by the taxpayers they would have been responsible for all the wrongful deaths and destruction of property.

    Basically the airlines since day one have been government-sponsored entities. Very few of them were actually private companies trying to honestly compete for passengers. (Southwest, maybe Midwest Express and a couple others have been it.) So the airlines already knew their negligence would not cost them dearly in the case of events like hijacking, explosions, etc. If the airlines were paying the true cost of insurance, their insurers would have insisted the cockpit doors were secured DECADES ago. With hijacking incidents of the 70’s they STILL didn’t secure the damn things thirty years later.

    9/11 was not an inside job but good ol’ American subsidization stupidity enabled the incidents. And now we have the government doing intensive passenger screening instead of the individual airlines doing it themselves so we STILL haven’t learned a fucking thing.

  36. #36 |  tarran | 

    There seems to be some confusion that I support Israeli security screening techniques. I don’t. I view them as being on the opposite end of the continuum from my preferred solution which is for airlines to welcome and accommodate armed passengers as they did in the 50’s (judging by the ads in old magazines I read in my grandfather’s study back in the day).

    The point I was making is that there are numerous different ways to tackle security, and the TSA model is a poorly performing, inefficient, one-size-fits-all system that cannot be reformed.

  37. #37 |  tarran | 

    Plus, I link to a video of Marissa Tomei flouncing angrily in a shirt and panties and nobody thanks me for it?

    What the hell is wrong with you people?

  38. #38 |  Stanely Ketchel, Middleweight | 

    John Thacker at 29. I cannot speak for any other person but as a Mississippi voter I will have a tough time not writing in “Mickey Mouse” or some other tomfoolery for AG. If I had to pick between the two, I might have to vote for Simpson, although I have no doubt whatsoever that he is the very scum of the earth.

    It’s like Hailey Barbour, in the sense you could not set out to design a more disgusting piece of shit disguised as a human being. He is bereft of any redeeming qualities, vile, spavined in the morals, lacking that structure formerly known as the “soul.” He is a political critter, nada mas. Utterly without virtue. And yet he has consistently the lesser evil in state politics.

    In a contest between Hailey Barbour and President Obama what does a principled voter do? I dunno either — but I’d vote for the Yazoo Pig Boy.

    Oh, if it matters, it’s off-topic but I agree with Mattocracy at 27 “What the US [and] Isreal don’t do that would make us safest is stop doing the dumb shit that makes people want to blow us up.”

    If you want peace work for justice. Cf. Isaiah 32:17. If you want these fuckheads to quit killing American civilians, quit killing their civilians. Stop dehumanizing other peoples and cultures. Just try it for a while. Give it a chance to catch on. See what happens.

    Not to worry that idea will never fly.

  39. #39 |  Stanely Ketchel, Middleweight | 

    Tarran. Okay. Thanks. She’s a babe and you made my day.

  40. #40 |  Just Plain Brian | 

    my preferred solution which is for airlines to welcome and accommodate armed passengers as they did in the 50?s

    I’d be willing to fly Awesome Airlines, if they existed.

  41. #41 |  BamBam | 

    This is all possible because of the existence of The State.

  42. #42 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    …anti-capitalist libertarian…

    How does that work?

    blah blah learned from 9/11 blah blah

    Nothing was learned. Same foreign policy. Same killing of (mostly brown) folks.

    When people are trying to kill you do two things:
    1. Ask “Why are they trying to kill me?”
    2. Have someone else answer the question because you can’t be trusted to answer it honestly.

    Also, what BamBam said.

  43. #43 |  Dupree | 

    Not defending Dr. West’s “subjectivity” in the bitemark evidence interpretation, but I do not belive that there was malice aforethought in his testifying for the prosecution in the Brewer and other cases involving the death penalty. He believes in his “science.” Dr. West’s testimony was only part of the prosecution’s case and it was up to the jurors to weigh the preponderence of evidence in finding the compelling evidence to convict. I wrote on this subject in an online forum some years back.
    Time out for juror’s questions?

    I had personal knowledge, through a friend of the family of the Forrest County public defender some twenty-years ago, of the events surrounding the suicides of the Forrest County public defender and prominent Chancery Judge Robbie Taylor. The family of the deceased public defender and others who have insider knowledge of this case are eternaly greatful for Dr. West exposing the conspiracy involving Forrest county’s corrupt lawyers, judges and the HPD. I would often see Dr. West eating at Mazzio’s in Hattiesburg, always alone , and was tempted to introduce myself to get his side of the Brooks story and thank him for rubbing egg on the faces of our corrupt lawyers, police departments and the judiciary, all the way up to Mike Moore’s office.

    And I might add, that bitemark evidence has excluded suspects in murder cases, and in many high profile case, led to the freeing of the falsely imprisoned. Don’t throw out the baby with the baby wash.

    Bitekmark evidence is a 1000 fold more credible that Innocents Project co-founder Barry Schenck’s “glove didn’t fit” evidence!

    {SNIP}

    …But is Dr. West guilty of malice or is he guilty of practicing an in-exact science(forensic odontology)?

    Several episodes of Investigative Discovery series running on TruTV last week dealt with the flawed interpretations, analyses and testimonies of bitemark evidence by forensic odontologists. In several cases a second opinion was sought that reversed the errors. So, which opinion is absolute and conclusive? Neither, without other corroborating evidence. And that was Dr. West’s defense in the Brewer case;i.e. bitemark evidence is only a part of the preponderence of evidence to build a case against a defendant. However, the testimony alone of “experts” in bitemark evidence, tool-mark evidence, bullet-weight evidence, handwriting-evidence, carpet/paint/hair evidence have sent many folks to prison.

    Mr. Brewer, like Ronnie Mitchener, Julian Mingo, Byron Weeks, etal., are, for the most part, victims of ineffective counsel and malicious prosecution. I don’t think that malice was in Dr. West’s heart. I cannot say that for Forrest Allgood, however.

    Around 1998, Dr. West blew the whistle on a case involving Chancery Judge Robert Taylor in Hattiesburg. Chancery Judge Taylor, a HPD policeman and his father, a Lebanese/American lawyer and local attorney Greg Alston were all involved in a plot to loot the estate of millionaire Jack Diamond of Picayune. West was the Forrest county coroner when called to the scene of a suicide–a local public defender for Forrest county. The public defender had threatened to expose the plot and the plotters threatened to expose his alleged liason with a black prostitute. This suicide was followed by Judge Taylor committing suicide by a drug overdose. The first to arrive at Judge Taylor’s death scene was the HPD involved in Taylor’s plot. A suicide was said to be found, but Dr. West never acknowledged seeing the note. After West was called to the scene, efforts were made by the plotters, the family and a local corrupt Judge to coverup the suicide and cremate the body without an autopsy. The local scuttlebutt was that even AG Mike Moore was amenable to authorizing the cremation of the body without the autopsy. Dr. West prevailed and Judge Taylor’s death was ruled to be a suicide. Dr. West lost his Forrest Coroner re-election to a Baptist preacher.
    Gregg Alston, the local attorney who was caught burning documents and evidence related to the conspiracy, was acquitted by mob-friendly jurors on the Coast. The HPD policeman(his co-conspirator father deceased at the time of the trial) was found guilty. The Lebanese-American was found guilty, too. However, on appeal, the HPD policeman had his conviction vacated because Supreme Court Judge Mike Mills ruled that the prosecution errred in revealing to jurors that un-indicted co-conspirator Judge Taylor had committed suicide[the suicide of Judge Taylor was frontpage news all over the State]. However, Judge Mills wasn’t so kind to attorney Ike Farris, affirming his conviction and sending him to prison for a lengthy term. Judge Taylor was a MNG JAG officer along with General Bill Waller, Jr. and Judge Ed Pittman.

  44. #44 |  crzybob | 

    Sorry i checked my and the issue of the cockpit door was the 200lbs – essentially the weight of one passenger. airlines didn’t want the extra fuel costs associated with the doors.

    notice that southwest and midwest didn’t reinforce their cockpit doors either and no they aren’t subsidized any more or less than united or american. united (and all airlines) use a holding company structures that allows them to pass profits up but disconnect losses from the shareholders. any losses from 911 could have been just ignored by the shareholders through bankruptcy. the problem was no liability.

  45. #45 |  Kwix | 

    Plus, I link to a video of Marissa Tomei flouncing angrily in a shirt and panties and nobody thanks me for it?

    What the hell is wrong with you people?

    Tarran,
    Face it, you just don’t have people skills. Now if you were like Mr. Gibbons, a real straight shooter with upper management potential written all over him, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Mmkay?

  46. #46 |  omar | 

    Another thread-jacking, but for what it’s worth, today is the Patriot Act’s 10th birthday!

    http://boingboing.net/2011/10/26/happy-10th-anniversary-patriot-act.html

  47. #47 |  Dupree | 

    “It’s like Hailey Barbour, in the sense you could not set out to design a more disgusting piece of shit disguised as a human being. He is bereft of any redeeming qualities, vile, spavined in the morals, lacking that structure formerly known as the “soul.” He is a political critter, nada mas. Utterly without virtue.”~Stanley

    Do you think that Central Casting had Barbour as a model for the Mel Brooks character Governor William J. LePetomane?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sm1Jyusyoqk&feature=related

  48. #48 |  NMissC (Tom Freeland) | 

    Maybe West believes in what he does. Perhaps that’s part of why he was such a convincing witness. In some ways, it doesn’t matter whether his fabulations were things he delusionally believed or invented. I don’t know what is in his heart either, and really don’t wish to know.

    But there is no question what he did. His evidence against Brooks and Brewer made law enforcement cease the search for a suspect. With the first case, that meant the possibility of an arrest that would have prevented the second death went out the window. And with the first case, there was no meaningful evidence other than Dr. West’s fantasies. And this is part of a greater pattern that includes the Leigh Stubbs case.

    Radley retold a nice story about the guy. A lawyer from Arizona who is appalled at bite mark evidence sent West photos and a check and dental casts, asking for an opinion that source of the cast had made bite marks in the picture. West obligingly sent an opinion along with a fifteen minute video explaining his “conclusion”– that the lawyer’s investigator (the source of the cast, who had no possible connection) had made bite marks in the picture.

  49. #49 |  Rojo | 

    “How does that work?”

    Wikipedia’s summary is reasonable enough…
    Libertarian socialism (sometimes called social anarchism,[1][2] and sometimes left libertarianism)[3][4] is a group of political philosophies that promote a non-hierarchical, non-bureaucratic, stateless society without private property in the means of production. Libertarian socialism is opposed to all coercive forms of social organization, and promotes free association in place of government and opposes what it sees as the coercive social relations of capitalism, such as wage labor.[5] The term libertarian socialism is used by some socialists to differentiate their philosophy from state socialism[6][7] or by some as a synonym for left anarchism.[1][2][8]

  50. #50 |  Stanely Ketchel | 

    Dupree @ “Do you think that Central Casting had Barbour as a model for the Mel Brooks character Governor William J. LePetomane?”

    I’m going to say no, but nice thought. With apologies to West, not Dr. West, but Nathanial West, in The Dream Life of Balso Snell, let me go further:

    It is possible to explain the powers of Barbour’s magnificent sense of
    politics by the well-known theory of natural compensation. No one who has ever observed the acuteness of touch exhibited by a blind man or the
    gigantic shoulders of a legless man, will question the fact that Nature
    compensates for the loss of one attribute by lavishing her bounty on
    another.

    And Nature had made in the person of Hailey Barbour another
    attempt at justice. He was deaf and almost blind; his fingers fumbled
    stupidly; his mouth was always dry and contained a dull, insensitive
    tongue. But his gift for politics! This was a marvelously sensitive and nice
    instrument.

    Nature had concentrated in this all the abilities usually distributed among the five senses. She had strengthened this ability and had made it so sensitive that it was able to do duty for all the contact organs. Barbour was able to translate the sensations, sound, sight, taste, and touch, into that of political instinct. He could politic a chord in D minor, or distinguish between the political sensibilities of a violin and that of a viola.

    He could divine the caress of velvet and the strength of iron as a political phenomenon. It has been said of him that he could politic an isosceles triangle; I mean that he could apprehend through this innate sense the political principles involved in isosceles triangles.

    He really is a special kind of guy.

  51. #51 |  Dupree | 

    “I don’t know what is in his heart either, and really don’t wish to know. “~Tom Freeland

    Ditto, Robert Simon?

    http://road2justice.wordpress.com/2011/05/25/reprieve-from-execution-for-robert-simon-mississippi/

  52. #52 |  pam | 

    First, it’s Mississippi (rolls eyes).

    Second, to put it bluntly, the MS press doesn’t give a shit. There was hardly a peep when Cory Maye was released, in fact an attorney in MS I’m working with on a case didn’t know about it for weeks. The press in MS is scared of the good ol boys.

    Third, I’m so sick of dealing with MS I could shit!

    Fourth, thank the gods, I’m not working in Arkansas, my life would be even further down the dumper.

    Thanks Radley, for keeping on this crap. It’s always better to lock up tons of people for non-violent drug offenses than to go after the real criminals like Hayne and West.

  53. #53 |  Cbalducc | 

    Dupree,

    Why do feel it necessary to refer to a lawyer involved in a political/suicide scandal in Hattiesburg as a “Lebanese-American”? Do you not recall his name? Are you insinuating that Lebanese-Americans are corrupt?
    As a Magnolia state resident, I’m sick of all this Mississippi bashing, especially the bile from “Stanley Ketchel”.

  54. #54 |  Stanely Ketchel, Middleweight | 

    Chalducc @53. I am truly sorry if I offended you. I did not intend to “bash” Mississippi. I intended to call attention to systemic problems, especially the “good ole boy” system, which give rise to wrongful convictions and dysfunctional law enforcment.

    That does not mean every lawyer and officer or judge in the state is incompetent or crooked. But for Forest Allgood to say in the film that nobody died, merely that these fellows languished in prison for something they had not done, when in fact if law enforcment had done just a little bit better job at least one little girl would have not been raped and murdered bespeaks a pretty weird world-view.

    Look carefully at recent cases out of the Commission on Judicial Performance. Take some time and visit the Secretary of State’s website and scrutinize, as I have, contributors to judicial elections. Do you really think a judge who raises a half million dollars from specific interests is going to be even handed and fair? I’m sorry, I do not. Perhaps I’m wrong but it is not unreasonable to have concerns, is it?

    Is it “Mississippi bashing” to write, “If you think Jim Hood is dumb, corrupt and fundamentally evil take a look at his successor in court this morning. You want scandal? Ask questions. While you’re at it, walk across to Oxford city court. His predecessor is judge there. Ask him tough questions about HIS DP cases, the people HE put on death row (and who remain there, or have been killed)?” That was an invitation for Mr. Balko to take a look at two other DAs (from the same district as Mr. Hood) with respect to their death penalty and other prosecutions, and to ask them questions. I think that by comparison Forrest Allgood won’t look all that bad.

    Far from “Mississippi bashing” I am holding Mississippi and its institutions to the very same standards as I would Texas, or Georgia, or California. Including university, law school and Bar admission standards. If that is bad please explain why. Are its residents, yourself included, entitled to any less?

    As for Hailey Barbour. Plainly I had nothing but praise for him. If you can’t poke good-natured family-oriented clean fun at your morbidly-obese Governor (and MY favored candidate for President of the Republic) then what’s a First Amendment for?

  55. #55 |  Dana Gower | 

    #52 Pam — Second, to put it bluntly, the MS press doesn’t give a shit. There was hardly a peep when Cory Maye was released, in fact an attorney in MS I’m working with on a case didn’t know about it for weeks. The press in MS is scared of the good ol boys.

    The Cory Maye case, when he was released, received coverage from The Clarion-Ledger (the de facto state newspaper) and The Hattiesburg American, the closest daily newspaper. Other newspapers picked up their stories as well.
    At the time of Maye’s original trial, there was little coverage because it wasn’t considered much of a case. It was only after Radley looked into it that anyone realized there was more than originally thought.

  56. #56 |  pam | 

    It’s either feast or famine. The Mississippi press will report obsessively on every scandalous detail of the Scruggs soap opera, breathlessly awaiting every delicious morsel, an endless grind of regurgitated mush. Maybe they think the people are interested. But the everyday injustices and railroading that affect the poor, minorities, and ignorant masses….a bone, crickets. Maybe they think the people aren’t interested.

    The meddling of an outside journalist is what lead to the downfall of Dr. Hayne and the final destruction of Dr. West, and ultimately to the freedom of a man the state of Mississippi wanted dead. The Mississippi media continue to ignore the trail of tears left by these two shysters. The courts continue to give them credibility and the state agents and politicians greedily wallow in the manure, cashing in every chance they get.

    If y’all don’t like to be bashed then quit complaining and get off your fat asses and do something about it. Stop blaming other people for your wheels still in the ditch.

    .

  57. #57 |  Cbalducc | 

    In Mississippi, county district attorneys and judges are elected. How do you know appointed ones would be more fair?
    I detect a strain of elitism in a lot of these comments.

  58. #58 |  Stanely Ketchel, Middleweight | 

    @ 57 That is a fair observation. I am not necessarily suggesting doing away with elected judges. My complaint is that anyone admitted to practice for some minimal period of time is fair game for the bench. I should like to see some vetting process whereby one has to be more than just a little bit alive to qualify to run for judge. Just as anyone with a operators license is not considered competent enough to drive an 18 wheeler, I should like additional qualifications. How about financial disclosures? How about real sanctions for not complying with the rules thereof? How about publishing academic credentials, professional sanctions, if any, by judicial candidates.

    Also, I should like to see more rigorous enforcment of the Code of Judicial Performance with respect to political activity. Also, more transparency with the Commission on Judicial Performance. Likewise the Mississippi Bar with respect to disciplinary matters.

    Does it make me an elitist to want dishonest or otherwise criminal activity by lawyers sanctioned? Hardly. I think back to the words used in one of the Scruggs’ defendant’s sentencing hearings by Judge Biggers. Just being a lawyer gives a person a lot of authority, public trust. It should be guarded very jealously indeed.

    I like courts. I like the idea of independant, non-political, non-tribal open courts of law. I like that idea a lot. And I like whatever means of selection insures that openess and independance.

    If it matters. Anyone who practices in this state will confess trusting their federal judges to follow the law and the rules of court more than state judges. They might complain about the rules, the rigor, but not the fairness of the judges. Once awarded life tenure, funny things happen. One is freed to do the right thing every time without regard for poliical considerations. Does that mean that in every case the judge attains super-human angelic qualities. Of course not but on average I trust them more.

    A minor correction. We have DISTRICT attorneys whose jurisdictions are circuit court districts. In some few densely populated areas a district may contain only one county. But by and large they are multi-county districts.
    There is no reason to appoint them and no reason for candidates to not be party-affiliated (aside from the obvious).

    Again a more selective process for training and admitting lawyers would improve the quality of district attorneys. I’m not joking, Jim Hood is a moron, so is his successor as Third Circuit District Attorney. It matters.
    When Jim Hood announced he couldn’t prosecute a recent high profile corruption case because “it would be like prosecuting a family member” he was not fooling. He really thinks that means those crimes should not be prosecuted. He doesn’t think it’s wrong. He doesn’t know there is a process for dealing with such investigations and prosecutions. YES HE IS THAT STUPID!

    There’s the problem. A shadow selection process. How is it that we have to choose between two first class jerks for AG? Do you really think there are no better qualified? Jim Hood was Mike Moore’s boy, his heir-apparent. (And while we’re at it Mike Moore is no genius, although I confess he’s far ahead of Jim Hood) Why not a lawyer of Rob McDuff’s caliber? They’re here. They’re committed to the law, to public service. Why aren’t they in politics? Because they know they are not electable and they do not wish to be character-assassinated trying to do the impossible.

    I go all the way back. This thread is about wrongful convictions. I invite scrutiny of Jim Hood’s DP work, and of the work that preceeded and followed his tenure as DA. Slipshod, uneven application of the law is not the exception. It is the rule. That’s the problem.

    I agree with Pam. It’s fixable. It just requires the will to do it.

  59. #59 |  Stanely Ketchel, Middleweight | 

    One more thing. Before you say it. Yeah, I know, McDuff is an elitist commie bastard.

    I agree. He is. And I loathe him. But he is one hell of a smart, elitist commie bastard, and an uncommonly fine lawyer.

    I guess I trust smart elist commie bastards to do the right thing more than dumb shit rednecks.

  60. #60 |  Cbalducc | 

    I’m not a lawyer and don’t pretend to know anything about law. My “elitist” comment referred to people who think Mississippians, black and white, are a bunch of dumb redneck reactionaries. That we’re not as good as those “enlightened” people on the East and Left Coasts. Just because we don’t allow gay “marriage”, free and easy abortions, and stuff like that.

  61. #61 |  Dupree | 

    “Why do feel it necessary to refer to a lawyer involved in a political/suicide scandal in Hattiesburg as a “Lebanese-American”? Do you not recall his name? Are you insinuating that Lebanese-Americans are corrupt?”~Cbalducc

    I chose not to name the “Lebanese American” lawyer because he was only a minor player in the scam, doing the paperwork for Judge Robbie Taylor, an elder of Parkway Heights Methodist Church, and his co-conspirators. Judge Mills had his “Pigmeat Markum” moment and somebody had to do some time! So, Mike Mills scapegoated the “Arab.” I meant it as a “tongue-in-cheek” commentary on Mills and the Mississippi Supreme Court.

    I am an “Arabist,” having become “educated” in US perfidy around the world while working with the Army Map Service in Libya for two years, followed by a nine-month tour in Ethiopia during the border war with Eritrea, when the US Green Berets went in to prop up the dictator Halilie Selassie, The Lion of Judah.

    I voted for the Lebanese Ralph Nader everytime he ran for POTUS. And I still miss the credible reporting from the Middle East of Lebanon’s Al Manar, which was banned from broadcasting by Colin “The Reluctant Warrior(sic)” Powell.

    And I am sickened by the Romanoff-esque buthchering of the Khaddafi family by Obama Mabus Killery, Susan Rice and the Neo-Con State Department cabal. And if the ICC were properly adjudicated. they would be sitting in the dock at the Hague along with their NATO partners in crime. On the list of my ten best movies in my lifetime, is The Lion of the Desert, the saga of Omar Makhtur during the Libyan resistence against Italian occupation. Makhtur is played by Anthony Quinn with Oliver Reed as the Italian General Graziani. Graziani was convicted of war crimes after WW2. The film was banned in Italy until Khaddafi made his historic “rapprochment” trip to Rome. Omar Makhtur’s eighty-year old son accompanied Khaddafi on the trip.

    And all those lies about Lockerbie and the Berlin La Belle Disco? If that other tribunal at the Hague had been properly adjudicated by the Scotish judges, Al Megrahi would have walked free like his co-defendant.

    How’s that for Arabist credentials?

  62. #62 |  Dupree | 

    John Pilger link to the framing of Libya and Al Megrahi for Lockerbie.

    http://original.antiwar.com/pilger/2009/09/03/lockerbie-megrahi-was-framed/

  63. #63 |  Dupree | 

    Looking back at my post on the Mills-impriosned Lebanese-American lawyer, it appears that I did state his name.

  64. #64 |  Dupree | 

    Just two years ago, Colonel Khaddafi traveled to Rome to receive an official apology for the actions of the Italian government against the Libyan people. The photo on Colonel Khaddfi’s right breast pocket is of the public hanging party assembled to execute Omar Mahktur.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P88FAtAhbcY

  65. #65 |  Dupree | 

    Last post on this matter of the whacking of Colonel Khaddafi.

    In this review of Lion of the Desert , the reviewer attributes the bombing death of Moustapha Akkad to “Muslims.” The speculation at the time was that it was Gerry Ball-type “hit” by Israel’s Mossad. There is no proof linking either group to his death.

    http://www.eccentric-cinema.com/cult_movies/lion_desert.htm

  66. #66 |  Dupree | 

    That’s Gerry Bull, not Ball.

  67. #67 |  Cbalducc | 

    Dupree,

    I guess you’re not the Johnny Dupree who’s running for governor in MS, then. He wouldn’t be a leftist Chomskyite whack job like yourself.

  68. #68 |  Dupree | 

    No. I cannot imagine that Johnny Dupree has French ancestry. And you’re way off target linking me to the born again Zionist Noam Chomsky.

    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/7608447/goldeneye_007_reloaded_feature/?source=playlist

  69. #69 |  Dupree | 

    mea culpa.

    Sarkozy meets Klaus for dinner

    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/2745265/sarkozy_vs_klaus_guignols_de_linfo/

  70. #70 |  pam | 

    well, and I’m glad to see Mississippi is going after the real criminals
    http://nems360.com/view/full_story/16203834/article-Teens–parents-face-media-with-Alcorn-strip-search-claims?instance=home_news_bullets

  71. #71 |  Dupree | 

    Yeah, Ohio’s doing the same.

    Investigative reporter Carl Monday:Rubbing Out Teenage Crime In Ohio

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-september-28-2006/rubbing-out-crime

  72. #72 |  Dupree | 

    “Fourth, thank the gods, I’m not working in Arkansas, my life would be even further down the dumper.”~PAM

    The Natural State’s beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. And it’s beauty has been enhanced further since the departure of two of the world’s most infamous international war criminals:Bill and Killery Clinton.

    WOW!

  73. #73 |  Dupree | 

    The Haynes/West necktie party seems to have moved over to Tom Freeland’s hang’em high blog. If you gonna’ hang’em, hang the twelve-person jurry that made the call, too.

    It(the Brewer /Brook jury) was pulled from that same jury pool over in Lowndes/Noxubee county from which Forrest Allgood selected the hanging jurors to convict Heritage Music instructor Julian Mingo for “rubbing a Heritage high school student through his pants.” Hanging Judge Jim Kitchens sentenced Mingo to thirty-years in prison(three, ten-year terms.)

    Funny thing, though, it took the Heritage HS student six months to figure out that he was being “molested” by Mingo.

    The case really was centered around where the diaphram is located on the human body. Mingo had warned the student that he had to do some “weird” techniques in his voice instruction lessons. There was never any penetration or exposing himself to the student. Judge Kitchens permitted the trial to turn into a three-ring circus with the public defender quitting midway through the trial, but later returning after Kitchens threatened him with contempt of court. At that point, Judge Kitchens should have declared a mistrial. Judge Kitchens denied Mingo introducing exculpatory evidence, claiming that Mingo delayed its introduction to gain a “tactical advantage.”

    Of course it didn’t help Mingo’s case that the HS student was the son of a local female law enforcement officer. And worst of all, Mingo’s public defender never cross- examined the HS student after his damning testimony. Mingo’s request for a change of venue was denied. He refused plea deals, still maintainig his innocence.

    He was railroaded by Forrest Allgood, Judge Kitchens, the public defender, the jury, and the Mississippi Supreme Court on appeal.

    A few years after the Mingo case, a local businessman/aristocrat, the grandson of a former Corps of Engineers building contractor, molested the pre-pubescent(six-years of age?) son of a close family friend–there was penetration, too. Gil D. did a plea deal with Forrest Algood and was out of jail in two years.

  74. #74 |  Dupree | 

    Mingo v. State of Mississippi

    http://caselaw.findlaw.com/ms-supreme-court/1369875.html

  75. #75 |  Dupree | 

    Defense counsel’s refusal to continue with trial clearly constituted an action tending to prevent the orderly administration of justice.   The trial judge’s decision to hold counsel in direct criminal contempt, while serious, was within his discretion.   Reviewing the record, we find no bias or impropriety by the trial judge in his rulings.

    ¶ 55.   This claim is without merit….

    …¶ 57.   Mingo falls far short of his burden of showing that the character and weight of the evidence was such that no reasonable juror could have found Mingo guilty.   The State proffered direct evidence in the form of the victim’s testimony and Mingo’s statement to police.   Despite Mingo’s assertions to the contrary, such evidence is not circumstantial.  Garrett v. State, 921 So.2d 288, 291-92 (Miss.2006).   Mingo also alleges inconsistencies between the victim’s testimony and that of other witnesses.   However, determinations of witness credibility are matters for a jury to decide.   Hughes v. State, 724 So.2d 893, 896 (Miss.1998).   Though no direct evidence was presented that Mingo touched the victim specifically to satisfy his lustful desires, this Court has held that such recognition may arise from the circumstances of the encounter itself.  Ladnier v. State, 878 So.2d 926, 930 (Miss.2004) (citing Bradford v. State, 736 So.2d 464, 466 (Miss.Ct.App.1999)

    [The "encounters" were part of the "weird" techniques in voice instruction ]

  76. #76 |  Dupree | 

    And finally, this gem:

    {SNIP}
    ¶ 10.   Even if Mingo had been arrested in response to the victim’s statement, Mingo cites no authority for the principle that a witness’ testimony is insufficient to establish probable cause.   The State persuasively argues that since the uncorroborated testimony of a victim can provide the basis for a finding of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, see Collier v. State, 711 So.2d 458, 462 (Miss.1998), it must by definition suffice for the lesser finding of probable cause.

    ¶ 11.   This claim is without merit.

  77. #77 |  Dupree | 

    I seem to recall that Barry Scheck, co-founder of the Innocents Project, saying that there will be a time that uncorroborated eyewitness testimony would not be permissable in court? Did I really hear that?

    I recall that a man in South Mississippi(Forrest county) being sent to Parchman for ten years without parole, based solely upon a thirteen-year old girl standing up in court and pointing at “Ronnie T.” saying, “that’s the man that molested me.” His twin brother(Robert T.) was charged with the same crime, but after Ronnie T.’s conviction the DA dropped the charges.

    Ronnie died in prison of a brain tumor just weeks before his scheduled release. His family was denied permission to let Ronnie go home and die under hospice care. Had he lived, he would have had to register as a”sex offender.”

    Typical Forrest County justice sysetm. It stinks!

  78. #78 |  The 2011 Worst Prosecutor of the Year Award | The Agitator | 

    [...] direct 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 year. Then sit in sad [...]

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