For those wondering about the Sun Herald-DMR Public Records case…

The Sun Herald found no joy at the Court of Appeals, which reversed Chancellor Schloegel. As of September 2, it was Writ time at the Mississippi Supreme Court, which has not yet ruled whether or not they will be taking the case. Click below to get the 13 page Writ filed earlier this month:

Auditor v Gulf Publishing Writ of Certiorari

Auditor v Gulf Publishing Writ of Certiorari

Where there was light now there is complete darkness

Photo courtesy of a reader. Bay ST Louis Mayor Les Fillingame wastes no time securing MUnicipal re3cords after Court of Appeals decision restricting public access to public records.
Photo courtesy of a reader 3/29/2016. Bay St Louis Mayor Les Fillingame wastes no time securing Municipal records after Mississippi Court of Appeals decision restricting public access to public records.

And the good ol’ boys are going to town. A reminder to everyone that Auditor Pickering’s investigation nabbed a few low level DMR employees but refusing to release the formerly public documents will save his political buddies tons of embarrassment. There is a reason Scott Walker feels like that he was betrayed folks, mainly because he was.

Sun Herald loses DMR records battle on appeal ~ Anita Lee

For those that were worried about the slow DMR news cycle….

I have it on the best authority that business will be picking up rather dramatically and I plan on being at ground zero when the muck begins to fly later today. Meantime we have Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood joining State Auditor Stacey Pickering in an incredible display of asshatitude per Paul Hampton’s recap of Judge Schloegel’s contempt order against Pickering, Hood and company.

“General Hood curiously stated it might be very embarrassing for a chancery judge to be admonished by a federal judge should the assistant U.S. attorney charge the chancellor with obstruction of justice and contempt of a grand jury subpoena,” Schloegel wrote about the phone call. “General Hood’s hypothetical regarding criminal charges against the undersigned chancellor and other remarks reinforced General Hood’s clear intent not to seek to mitigate the contempt of his client, the auditor, and furthermore, raised questions of his own role, the role of the Attorney General’s Office and the role of the defendants and their employees in the issuance of the federal grand jury subpoena and the wrongful removal of the records from state court jurisdiction.”

It gets better because Pickering, while denying public records to the Sun Herald and coming across like a fool last December at the court hearings on the related litigation stopped woefully short in his investigation into DMR wrongdoing in favor of crushing a few lower level employees that now stand accused of padding their travel by a few hundred dollars a piece. Biloxi Blues summed it up nicely in comments: Continue reading “For those that were worried about the slow DMR news cycle….”

The Sun Herald had access to the DMR “Public” records for 7 weeks……

Man o’ man that sure was an epic public records battle for the public to have not seen so much as one of the so called public records that were battled over 7 weeks and a day out. Just sayin’.

Saturday links

The rain and other circumstances have converged to make this one of those days when I’m tempted to break out the knife and hit the chop shop. Turns out, I’m woefully behind on recent developments in the Mississippi Coast TeeVee news congroovancy, such deficiency I made a point of curing this morning. The “cure” was almost a complete waste of time but before I get to that:

Sun Herald will get first look at Mississippi DMR records Monday ~ Paul Hampton

I’d give the Sun Herald Box diving gang some secret CPA auditor box diving tips but I’ll be keeping those trade secrets.  😉  I’m sure the gang will do a good job raking muck next week.

Federal judge dismisses most of remaining Katrina damage lawsuits ~  Mark Schleifstein

Welp, the two vagrants you’d see most at the Waveland Walmart have now been eliminated from the Highway 90 social scene.

Homeless man charged in Bourgeois murder ~ Dwayne Bremer

Moving right along…..

Football concussion lawsuits reach high school: Mississippi suit goes after NCAA and NFHS ~ Jon Solomon

‘Duck Dynasty’ star Phil Robertson back on A&E, network says ~ AP Story via NOLA.com

Finally, I missed the re-debut of Channel 25 TeeVee news a month or so ago.  This is good news because you lifers know I live to shoot spitballs at the TeeVee news although Hammerman is making it harder:

Toni Miles, former WLOX reporter, joins WXXV 25 News team ~ Patrick Ochs

Though I didn’t cover Miles unfortunate association with a cocaine distribution arrest I did make sure she could get a taste of home here on Slabbed anytime she wanted it after she Continue reading “Saturday links”

Judge Starrett frees the Pickering purloined public records

And so let the muckraking begin. Click the pic to score the 13 page PDF.

USA v Walker et al Doc 68

Looking for love in all the wrong places: A DMR public records debacle update

I thought Phillip Thomas at Mississippi Litigation Review nailed one of the more recent developments in the State Auditor’s Office public records contempt hearing being heard before Judge Schloegel in Gulfport.  The point is short n’ sweet and dead on accurate:

State Auditor Stacey Pickering is asking the U.S. District Court to bail him out of a mess of his own creation.

And this gets us to today’s comprehensive update by Karen Nelson and Justin Mitchell for the Sun Herald on yesterday’s Chancery Court proceedings before Judge Schloegel that ties in with that:

Schloegel stopped the civil contempt hearing, in its second day Friday, so all parties could participate in a conference call with Hattiesburg U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett, who is assigned the federal case.

Also participating in the call were attorneys for indicted former DMR Director Bill Walker and his son, Scott Walker, and other DMR managers indicted in the federal investigation of the DMR.

During the call, Starrett said he had concerns about how it would fit into the investigation if his office found the records are public. Those concerns included the defendants’ right to a fair trial, if there are any grand jury secrets in the documents, and how disclosure might affect any other “targets” of the grand jury investigation.

Early on, when the first indications surfaced that former Assistant US Attorney Sal Perricone engaged in certain extracurricular no-no’s with respect to the massive corruption investigation then underway in Metro New Orleans, certain sage observers predicted the criminal defense attorneys would use it to the benefit of their clients and it worked out exactly that way.  I mention this because although we have a far different fact set in play here, if you take what the Sun Herald put out on the social media real time during the two days of hearings at face value, my spidey senses tell me the spectacle is helping rather than hurting the five former DMR employees charged with state crimes that resulted from the year long investigation conducted by the State Auditor’s office.  The concerns Judge Starrett expressed were not from any first hand knowledge of the contents of the records at question but from experience IMHO.

Here is the text of the minute entry from PACER on the call:

Minute Entry for proceedings held before District Judge Keith Starrett:Telephone Conference as to William W. Walker, Scott J. Walker, Joseph C. Zeigler, Jr, Sheila Tina Shumate held on 12/6/2013 regarding Expedited Petition to Authorize Release of Records and for Direction [62]. The Court informed counsel of guidelines for their responses to the Petition. All responses are due by December 18, 2013. Participants: Jerry Rushing, John Dowdy, Harold Britain, William Kirksey, Arthur Madden, Corban Gunn, Joe Sam Owen, Tim C. Holleman, John Corlew, Henry Laird, Harold Pizzetta, Douglas Miracle, Melissa Patterson, David Huggins, Joseph Runnels, Sandra Chesnut; Court Reporter/Transcriber Fred Jeske

Next up we need to jump back a few weeks and solve a minor mystery of the Federal case against the Walkers, Joe Ziegler and Tina Shumate. Warren Kulo’s story from last month on the gang’s first court appearance for the Mississippi Press sets it up: Continue reading “Looking for love in all the wrong places: A DMR public records debacle update”

The dog ate it: Stacey Pickering reveals under oath that he has no control over his employees at the State Auditor’s Office

I’m not sure where to start on today’s performance by Stacey Pickering in the contempt hearing being held in Chancery Court Judge Jennifer Schloegel’s courtroom in Gulfport but this snippet from the latest Sun Herald update seems a logical starting point:

Pickering’s chief of investigations, David Huggins, admitted under oath at the contempt hearing Wednesday that Assistant U.S. Attorney John Dowdy subpoenaed records from the Department of Marine Resources to avoid making them public.

Since we don’t have a transcript the above raises some serious questions and it plays into something I heard from the mean streets of Jackson.  The question is whether Huggins actively worked with Assistant U.S. Attorney John Dowdy to deprive the Mississippi public of access to their own records.  This much is clear, if we take that snippet at face value then Dowdy was complicit on some level and this goes back to what I heard. This twitter exchange explains it.

Now who is Joel Smith one might ask? (And asked I was by a reader from Central Mississippi) He is the District Attorney for Harrison, Hancock and Stone Counties and the guy in charge of the indictments of the former DMR employees charged with padding their travel by a few thousand dollars. The Federal Grand Jury subpoena of the DMR records went down in close time proximity to the state and federal indictments so this relationship is salient. Continue reading “The dog ate it: Stacey Pickering reveals under oath that he has no control over his employees at the State Auditor’s Office”

Stacey Pickering has a secret……

Meet Thad Cochran’s heir apparent. Who wants to bet the Sun Herald endorses him?

Auditor requests secret hearing in records lawsuit ~ Anita Lee

If I were retired or had some spare time on my hands I think I’d show up for the hearing, especially since Herr Pickering wants secret proceedings. Seeing Corlew in action is worth the price of admission alone.

Something tells me before this is over, on the political stupidity scale, Pickering will end up in Mr. BrousStar’s league.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQv56ux6t_A

The headline could have easily read…..

5 Sun Herald attorneys from Jones Walker working with Aaron Broussard and pals to shut Slabbed down.

Naw folks, the Sun Herald only cares about the First Amendment and public records when it is their own ox being gored.

Five attorneys working for Mississippi to keep records from public ~ Anita Lee

Speaking of the Goatherders, I have a dynamite update coming as the gang has made some stunning admissions in Canadian court filings.