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 |  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/

  2. #2 |  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.

  3. #3 |  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”.

  4. #4 |  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?

  5. #5 |  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.

  6. #6 |  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.

    .

  7. #7 |  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.

  8. #8 |  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.

  9. #9 |  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.

  10. #10 |  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.

  11. #11 |  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?

  12. #12 |  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/

  13. #13 |  Dupree | 

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

  14. #14 |  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

  15. #15 |  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

  16. #16 |  Dupree | 

    That’s Gerry Bull, not Ball.

  17. #17 |  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.

  18. #18 |  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

  19. #19 |  Dupree | 

    mea culpa.

    Sarkozy meets Klaus for dinner

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

  20. #20 |  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

  21. #21 |  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

  22. #22 |  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!

  23. #23 |  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.

  24. #24 |  Dupree | 

    Mingo v. State of Mississippi

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

  25. #25 |  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 ]

  26. #26 |  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.

  27. #27 |  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!

  28. #28 |  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 […]