Hinds Co. DA: Judge sets bond and dimisses cases “behind my back”

Jackson, Miss. — Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith talked to WJTV on camera Friday morning and alleged that Hinds County Judge Tomie Green has been setting bonds and dismissing cases behind his back.

Smith also says that Judge Green has had ex parte communication with defense attorney Faye Peterson. Ex parte communication is when a judge meets with one, but not both sides of legal counsel, about a pending case and without the other sides knowledge.

Smith says he became aware of the allegations when law enforcement officers started asking him why certain habitual offenders had been released. So far, Smith thinks he’s found 6 cases that weren’t handled properly. He doesn’t know how many more could be out there.
Smith is investigating all of this and he’s asked the Department of Justice to investigate.
WJTV has reached out to Judge Green, but so far we have not heard back from her.
In a phone conversation, Attorney Faye Peterson denied any ex parte communication with Judge Green. Peterson says in at least two of the cases that Smith presented to WJTV, bond was set low because the suspect has a medical issue.
For example, Timothy Owens, Jr. was arrested for murdering his girlfriend. In July, 2015, Owens was granted a $5,000 bond by Judge Green. According to the District Attorney’s office, bond for a murder suspect is often denied or set as high as $100,000. Peterson says because Owens has a medical condition, a low bond was set and he was placed on house arrest. The case later went before another judge who raised the bond to $50,000. Owens posted bond and was placed on house arrest.
UPDATE: We received a statement from Judge Green on the District Attorney Smith’s claims
STATEMENT OF THE COURT REGARDING CLAIMS OF THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY
[The Court is limited in what it can disclose in its judicial capacity, and hereby requests that the
media publish this entire statement. No further statements from the Court are anticipated at this
time.]
The judges of all circuit courts of this State take an oath to administer justice without respect
to persons, and to provide equal right to the rich and the poor. We pledge to faithfully and
impartially discharge our duties in accordance with the Constitution of the United States, and the
Constitution and laws of the State of Mississippi.
I have kept my oath and complied in good faith, with the Code of Judicial Conduct for nearly
20 years now. I challenge anyone, including the district attorney, to prove otherwise. Remands,
nolle proses and dismissals are initiated by the District Attorney’s office. My actions on and off
the bench have never been motivated by threats, bullying, public opinion, hope of reward or
popularity. The rulings of this Court are guided only by the principles of the law, the Constitution
and the divine dictate of our Creator. I vehemently deny the false allegations of our district
attorney, and suggest he choose another scapegoat.
Attempts to defame this Court, are inexcusable and exemplify an unacceptable and failed
attempt at bullying. By perpetuating intentional falsehoods, our misguided prosecutor may very
well be highlighting and revealing his own shortcomings and emotional instability. The district
attorney is clearly abusing his authority and in doing so, he is attempting to mislead the citizens
of Hinds County and betraying the public’s trust. This Court welcomes any investigation by any
person or agency or entity. However, the real question is whether the district attorney can
withstand the same scrutiny. I submit that he cannot.
Throughout the state Circuit judges preside over both civil and criminal cases, just as we do
within the 7th Circuit Court District (Hinds County) in the State of Mississippi. We do not
prosecute cases — the district attorney or the attorney general does. Circuit judges do not make
arrests, collect evidence, present cases to grand juries for indictment or try criminal cases
before juries – law enforcement and district attorneys do. Judges do not decide facts, determine
the credibility of witnesses or convict criminals — juries do. And, when jurors convict, circuit
judges sentence in accordance with Mississippi law. When there is a plea bargain between the
Defendant and the district attorney, the district attorney makes a recommendation for
sentencing to the Court. With due respect for the disposition authority of the prosecutor, all
Courts generally accepts the sentencing recommendation, but from time to time, rejects a
sentence and imposes a different sentence that the Court believes is more justified.
Under both the federal and state Constitutions, a person charged with a crime and indicted
by a grand jury are presumed innocent. That presumption stays with the Defendant until he
pleads guilty or until he or she is convicted of the crime by a jury of his peers. As such, under
our Constitution, a person charged with a crime is entitled to a “reasonable” bond to assure the
person charged appears for trial. A bond is not set based on the severity of the crime charged,
but does take into account the risk of flight and the risk to public safety. Ninety-five (95%) of the
time, the bond is agreed to by our District Attorney. Many times the judges have increased
bonds that have previously been agreed to by the district attorney. Courts are duty bound to set
bonds in accordance with the law and the Constitution. Our Supreme Court dictates that no
person who is presumed innocent should sit in jail for months or years without being indicted or
tried. I know of no circuit judge in our district who has refused to preside over a case properly
prepared for presentation at trial by the district attorney’s office.
Tomie Green, Senior Circuit Judge – 7th Circuit Court District
State of Mississippi

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