/Court’s not in session A judge campaigns while his cases backlog

Court’s not in session A judge campaigns while his cases backlog

Kennedy’s trial was scheduled to start Tuesday, November 13. After many delays, Kennedy was finally allowed to stand trial. Jeff Weill from Hinds County Circuit Court, who is running for a seat at the Mississippi Court of Appeals in a race for a seat, abruptly continued Kennedy’s case and notified counsel of the cancellation Nov. 12. Kennedy, a former guard at Central Mississippi Correctional Facility is charged with kidnapping a doctor. He forced him to drive him to an ATM so he could withdraw the money. According to media reports, the doctor shot and killed Edwin Robinson and turned his gun on his attackers. Kennedy’s trial was rescheduled for December 10. During this election season, Weill has only conducted a few trials and hearings. During the Nov. 6, election, he received 42.643 votes, compared to David McCarty’s 73.898 votes and Byron Carter’s 33.821 votes. McCarty will be facing Weill in a Nov. 27, runoff, as no candidate received more than 50 percent of the vote. Kennedy was in jail for more than 1,270 days and has not been able to post bond. Chris Routh, Kennedy’s public defense attorney, stated that there are people sitting in Raymond, waiting for three years to be tried, and in some cases, five years. Then, having nearly half a dozen trial week cancellations in the last few months is absurd. Routh, who has a troubled past with Weill filed an objection to Tuesday’s continuation. Routh stated that neither the prosecution nor defense wanted to delay the case, and Weill did not give any reason for the continuation. After a heated courtroom argument, Weill placed Routh in contempt court and briefly imprisoned him. Politics run deep at the Hinds County Courthouse. Routh has voted for McCarty in Weill’s appeal’s court race. In Mississippi, judges are elected rather than appointed. This means that it is necessary to balance hearing cases and campaign for office. Darlene Ballard is the director of Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance. She said that continuing a case is at the discretion of the judge. Ballard stated that judges are still responsible for maintaining the docket and hearing cases throughout the election cycle. This can put them in a disadvantage if they have an opponent who can set their own hours. They can also campaign during the day. Ballard stated that a judge would need to take personal leave similar to vacation to campaign in the courtroom. She said that it would be the responsibility of a judge to plan ahead and not schedule cases during this time. Ballard stated that he wouldn’t believe that a case scheduled for a certain time would be extended for the purpose of campaigning. Robert Shuler Smith, Hinds County District Attorney, stated that it is not common for a judge without an articulated reason to continue a case. If either the defense nor prosecution request that a case be continued, it is usually when one party is not ready to begin trial. Smith stated in writing that the judge may postpone a matter sua sponte. This would mean that both parties will be deprived of any rights or relief they seek. Smith stated that the prosecution paid for a witness from out of town to testify, and that one was required to take time off work to attend the trial. Smith stated that this was more than an inconvenience. Weill and Smith also have a turbulent relationship. In 2016, a judge tried to ban Smith from participating in Kennedy’s case. Weill did not file an order to continue Kennedy’s case as it is usual, but he did file an order that granted the new trial date of December 10. Weill didn’t return calls to Mississippi Today, and his court administrator wouldn’t answer any questions about his schedule. She confirmed that Weill was not being tried Wednesday during the week designated for criminal trials, according to his schedule. Kennedy is not the only defendant who has been delayed in Weill’s courtroom. Defendant Martez Taylor was scheduled to appear in court Sept. 10, a second trial after he was convicted of a felony of possessing a firearm. But Weill continued his case until Jan. 14, due to a scheduling conflict. Elvin Lee Johnson was also supposed to be present Sept. 24, but Weill continued his case until January 14. Routh stated that Richard Epps has been held in prison for 10 months since 2012, and Weill cancelled his plea hearing. Routh stated that the plea would have led to Epps being released from jail Tuesday. Weill cancelled his Monday docket and rescheduled 20 arraignments hearings and other status meetings for criminal case before him to Nov. 29, after the runoff. Ballard stated that she has never been the subject of a complaint regarding how a judge balances their time during an election. The Mississippi Code of Judicial Conduct doesn’t explicitly address this issue. At the end of the year, Weill will be stepping down from his seat on the circuit court. Nearly all candidates for the vacant seat cited the court’s biggest problem as a backlog. The backlog of cases is an overarching and urgent problem. Responding to a Clarion Ledger questionnaire, judge candidate Matt Allen stated that judges control the dockets and scheduling of cases. Hinds County is far too prone to criminal cases. No matter whether you view criminal matters more from a law-and order or civil liberties perspective it is extremely problematic to have criminal cases languish for years.” Allen, an attorney will face Adrienne Wooten (D-Jackson) in the Nov. 27 election. Wooten stated that if elected she would establish a timeline to ensure a trial within 90-120 day after an indictment._x000D