I’ve been to a few Federal Courthouses through time but I’ve been to the Dan Russell Federal Courthouse in picturesque downtown Gulfport the most. Before I lend any further insights on the United States Courthouse experience let’s visit with Warren Kulo over at the Mississippi Press:
Each of the five defendants was led into court at 10:08 a.m. wearing handcuffs and leg shackles. A bailiff informed attorney Joe Sam Owen that federal regulations require the restraints as long as a suspect is in federal custody.
No cameras or recording devices were allowed in the courtroom.
Yes chains still rule the day for new criminal defendants in the Southern District of Mississippi. Some courthouses will allow smart phones inside but it is best they are turned off lest they make noise in open court and displease the Judge. Most courthouses are like that in fact except for one in my experience and that is the Dan Russell Courthouse as the gang there still does not allow such devices in period. The U.S. Marshals Service there are old school kinda guys. How about some lovely music:
While I have no first hand experience going to the courthouse as a criminal defendant, I’ve had occasion to accompany a person in such an unfortunate circumstance albeit to a different United States courthouse but coupled with my civil litigation experience this is how I interact with the good folks that work at the Russell Courthouse.
When entering the building to go through security one should always acknowledge the U.S. Marshals by hearty salutation in ones best southern drawl, such as “Good Morning Gentlemen” or “Good Afternoon Gentlemen”. (Old School guys like this). This step is important because it sets the tone for the rest of the visit. They are going to check your identification and inquire as to your business there. (note to the general public, you can generally defer that question by asking for directions to Judge Guirola’s courtroom in the case of the Walkers, for example, when court is in session on that case.)
Minding one’s manners and not appearing flippant goes a long way once you’re inside. If I were a criminal defendant the last thing I would do is this as excerpted from Anita Lee’s account of yesterday at the courthouse:
Both Scott Walker and Janus smiled at friends or family members in the gallery
No siree I would not do that. I’d make like the older salts at Team Walker and be reflective and “somber”. And by all means if you’re paying your lawyers big bucks don’t be afraid to ask ’em for that type of advice. Speaking of lawyers here is the lineup as Team Walker has some talented criminal defense lawyers on board:
- William Kirksey for Bill Walker
- Arthur Madden for Scott Walker
- Brad Pigott for Michael Janus
- Joe Sam Owen for Joe Ziegler
- Tim Holleman for Tina Shumate
I always operated on the assumption that once you enter a United States courthouse as a litigant that you are being judged every second of every minute of every hour that you are there. Cutting up, even during the many periods of relative inactivity is just not a good idea. Make too much noise and disturb another proceeding? I have seen this in person (as a nonparticipant) and the results are neither pleasurable nor desirable.
Worth noting is that to get to this point of indictments being unsealed means that whatever deal was being offered to Bill and Scott Walker along with Joe Ziegler, Tina Shumate and Michael Janus by Team Fed was simply too harsh from the defendants perspective. The pressure to take a deal will mount as the case moves closer to trial but I can’t imagine they will get any better deal than the one they were already offered so there is a good chance this case goes to trial.
Finally we’ve had several readers make note that others that were enriched at the expense of the taxpayers were not indicted at all. Names that come to mind that have already been mentioned in comments would be folks like David Harris of Ocean Springs. I have no inside insights into the coming federal prosecution but often times such omissions means those parties have already cut a deal. It is also not unusual for those on the periphery of criminal activity to get a pass and a person like Harris is not what I’d term central to the narrative. At least there is a booby prize for the public as the days of Harris and his ilk cutting sweetheart real estate deals off the backs of the taxpayers are likely over.
As we move closer to trial we’ll get some more twists and turns as that always seems to be the case. Stay tuned.