Hinds County Assistant Public Defender Jailed

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – A Hinds County assistant public defender found himself on the other side of the law. Christopher Routh was escorted out of Judge Jeff Weill’s courtroom Wednesday and taken to the Hinds County Detention Center.

“We will not be intimidated. We will not be bullied,” says Hinds County Public Defender, Michele Purvis Harris. She spoke on behalf of Christopher Routh Thursday during a press conference addressing Wednesday’s court events. Routh was escorted from the courtroom and ordered to stay in jail until 5:00 p.m. Wednesday evening.

It all happened when Routh’s client, Loren Shell-Blackwell, a capital murder suspect was denied bond.

“Mr. Routh is still trying to be an advocate for his client, and he is making the proper legal argument before the court. So no, Mr. Routh was not disrespectful or disruptive,” says Harris.

However, according to Judge Weill’s motion, he found Routh in criminal contempt of court; citing the attorney refused to obey the court’s order and willfully disrupted court proceedings.

“We will take the necessary steps to appeal the contempt order, and we will move forth,” Harris says that’s the next step in Routh’s case.

When Judge Weill made the criminal contempt motion, he did not set a bond for Routh. Therefore, the Public Defender’s Office went to the state Supreme Court, which issued a $500 bond for the attorney.

This isn’t the first time Hinds County public defenders went head to head with Judge Weill.

“We have had over nine attorneys to serve in Judge Weill’s courtroom. And every one of those attorneys has at some point been threatened with the contempt that has never occurred in any of the other courtrooms,” claims Harris. In December, Harris herself was escorted out of Weill’s courtroom. At that time, the Supreme Court also sided with the public defenders.
“We will continue to do our jobs, and that is what is required of us and that’s what we’ll do,” says Harris.

The Public Defenders Office is waiting to if the Supreme Court will appeal that criminal contempt order. WJTV reached out to Judge Weill but were told he was no available for comment. However, that court transcript is supposed to be available to the public Friday.

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