JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) — After a mistrial in the case of Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith, WJTV is getting you answers about what happens next.
The mistrial was declared after 10 days of trial and about three hours of deliberations when jurors said they couldn’t reach a verdict. The court was thrown for a loop when a note from the jury indicated a juror knew D.A. Smith and had formed an opinion outside of the facts of the trial.
A law professor talks about how to keep this from happening again.
“The answer is in part, you bring in more prospective jurors, and you take as long as it takes to go one by one to find people who have heard less not more about the case,” said Matt Steffy, a law professor at Mississippi College.
He said attorneys would also look for people who have no connection to the case and promise to be fair.
“If you can pick a jury for OJ Simpson, you can pick a jury for the Hinds County D.A.,” he said.
The Attorney General’s Office wouldn’t tell us what if any, punishment the juror may face.
“The easiest thing to prove would be if there was a lie under oath,” Steffy said.
However, the incident has to be investigated by the district attorney’s office before the juror could face any punishment.
Smith will continue to serve as D.A. pending the outcome of his trial. Steffy said Hinds County is the appropriate place for the trial because this is where the alleged crimes happened and where Smith lives. It’s also where his constituents are.
“My guess is the reason it stayed in Hinds County is this is where his constituents are,” Steffy said. “That’s where people who have elected him to the position of D.A. and who value his services in fighting crime.”
In a phone conversation with smith’s attorney Thursday, Jim Waide said he would talk to Smith about having the trial moved to another venue, but we don’t know if that will happen.
The new trial is set to begin June 12.