/What’s next in the Jim Hood v Robert Shuler Smith saga

What’s next in the Jim Hood v Robert Shuler Smith saga

According to the lawyer for the inmate, officials may have moved him because the state was “a bit angry, disgruntled” that he had not provided testimony against Robert Smith. The Mississippi Department of Corrections stated that the move was made for “institutional security” but did not specify what security risk Christopher Butler posed. The possibility that Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood will move against Butler raises questions about the future. He has been pursuing charges against Butler for two years, despite having a history of erratic behavior and poor convictions. Butler was sentenced to a 30 year term at Mississippi State Prison Parchman in 2017 for possessing marijuana. Smith tried for years to discredit the charges. Although Butler was not convicted of federal offenses, the Mississippi Department of Corrections asked that Butler be housed by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. In July, officials moved Butler from Mississippi State Prison, Parchman, to the United States Penitentiary, Allenwood, Penn. Damon Stevenson, Butler’s attorney, stated that the state had no reason to move him from Mississippi, where his family is incarcerated, to the United States Penitentiary in Allenwood, Penn., in July. In 2016, Smith was charged with conspiring to prevent the prosecution of a criminal defendant in a case against Butler. The state attorney general’s office attempted unsuccessfully to prove that Smith helped Butler get his charges dropped during two trials. Another FBI investigation that has not yielded results focused on Smith’s handling cases and allegations that the office received bribes to lower bonds or drop charges. Smith’s former Assistant district attorney Ivon Johnson pleaded guilty and testified in length against Smith. Johnson secretly recorded Smith’s conversations for the FBI. The tapes were used by the attorney general in Smith’s first trial. These recordings were played in court but did not provide any concrete evidence that Smith was involved in a bribery conspiracy. Although the attorney general didn’t present any evidence of a bribe, Johnson’s testimony raised suspicions. Robert Culpepper, an FBI agent, testified in that trial that Smith’s office was under investigation. The FBI spokesperson Brett Carr couldn’t comment on the current status of this investigation. Johnson was found not guilty by the jury in July 2017 and was sentenced to five years probation. This is less than the maximum five years he could have been facing. Johnson also received a cooperation award in the Smith case. Grace Fisher, MDOC spokesperson, did not answer calls regarding Butler’s transfer. She sent an email stating that Butler was being transferred to “institutional safety.” She declined to elaborate. According to the bureau of prisons, the federal agency accepted Butler’s request under their intergovernmental agreement to mutually accommodate inmates. However, they did not give a reason. An inmate from the state might be transferred to a federal jail out-of-state to ensure their safety, break up criminal activity in a prison, or to provide information to federal agents. Matt Steffey, professor at Mississippi College School of Law, and constitutional law expert, said that the transfer raises concerns about Butler’s legitimate needs as an inmate. He is close to his family. Stevenson stated that he reached out MDOC but has not received a “legitimate explanation” why his client was transferred. Stevenson said that he has never seen the state transfer an inmate to federal prison without federal charges in all his years of being an attorney. He said that he has never seen such a thing happen to any other attorney. Michael Sterling, Smith’s lawyer, stated that jurisdictions can use intergovernmental agreements to move prisoners around for very little reason. Evia Butler, Butler’s mother, claimed that she did not know her son was transferred until Pennsylvania allowed him to call. Since then, she hasn’t been able get any information from Mississippi officials. Butler claimed that he was told by prison officials that he would be staying in Allenwood for a year, but would not explain why. Evia Butler stated that Butler made the phone call. Butler’s information has been hidden before. Butler was secretly held in several Mississippi jails before Smith’s trial in December 2016. After Butler had sent letters to reporters and politicians alleging that Smith’s attorney general had intimidated him to get information, this was after Butler wrote them. Smith said Monday that it took people a while to understand what I was talking bout — how people were abusing their power, soliciting false witness from people, and soliciting any theory they could to make me appear different than the Hinds County district attorney that the people elected.” Smith said that he had spent a lot of time showing how the system works and how politics can play a role in compromising public security. He will be running for reelection in 2019. Smith stated that he’s not focused on the election but is “just getting back the normal course of business” after spending two years working on his defense. Stanley Alexander, the assistant attorney general, was Smith’s opponent during the heated 2015 district attorney elections. Smith stated Monday that he had known for some time that others were planning and plotting behind his back to remove me from office. Hood was convicted of felony charges in Hinds County for the handling Butler’s case. Hood had been convicted in Hinds County twice before Hood. Hood had also been convicted in Rankin County in a domestic incident two years prior. Smith’s ex-girlfriend Christie Edwards initially went to the FBI alleging that Smith had shoved her at her Pearl mobile home and threatened her with a gun in August 2015. Smith’s defense team discovered messages that Edwards had sent one month prior to the incident. In them, Edwards described having a conversation in which Alexander was present, even though he was presently engaged in a campaign against Smith. Sterling claimed that the messages suggested Edwards wanted to “turn the tables on (Smith)”. The defense tried to use the texts as evidence to doubt the credibility of Edwards’ story. After Smith’s failed first trial, the attorney general’s office did not prosecute the case. It said that Edwards’ claims were not known to them until Smith’s original case became public. Michael Guest, the district attorney for Rankin, Madison and Madison counties, declined to prosecute the domestic case because there was not enough evidence to warrant felony prosecutions. Observers wondered if Hood would be more successful trying Smith before an all-white jury at Rankin versus Hinds where his family is well-known. Sterling stated that Smith was enticed by the attorney general’s office with a plea agreement that would have him resign from office. However, prosecutors boasted that Smith would not be acquitted in Rankin County. It was a modern Emmett Till-style attempt to use the citizens of Rankin County, which they failed to do. They tried to get the citizens of Rankin County involved in their dirty work, but they failed. Smith expressed his appreciation Wednesday after the jury found him innocent of the robbery charges. Smith was not found guilty of the aggravated stalking offense by the jury. The attorney general’s office did not say whether they would pursue the domestic violence charge, or any other misdemeanor charges related to the same incident that were included in an indictment against Smith. The office stated that it would talk with the victim to decide later and declined to comment further on the case. Sterling stated that the case against Smith in Rankin County was the best chance for a conviction. However, he would not speculate about the likelihood of a second trial. After the judge found out that one juror had been influenced by police officers, the first trial in Hinds County ended with a mistrial. Smith was acquitted by a second Hinds County jury last summer on conspiracy charges. Jim Waide, who represented Smith at his first trial, said that Smith’s defense team had to be strong. To support this important work, you can make a regular donation to us today as we celebrate our Spring Member Drive.