- Associated Press - Friday, October 17, 2014

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The Hinds County District Attorney’s office wants a judge to punish the sheriff’s office for allegedly leaking incorrect information about a grand jury indictment to the media.

The Clarion-Ledger reports (https://on.thec-l.com/1wP6EHV ) District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith filed the contempt citation in circuit court. A contempt citation suggests an act that obstructs justice or attack the integrity of a court.

Smith alleges the sheriff’s office released a list of unindicted cases provided to the media included the name of an individual who was indicted on another charge. He said sheriff department officials made statements that the person wasn’t indicted.

Although cases not indicted by a grand jury are public record, Smith said his citation focus on information being released on a person who was indicted before he is served.

Smith’s motion says the grand jury returned an indictment against a certain defendant, whose name is on the not-indicted list, on the charge of possession of opium. That the indictment has not been served by the sheriff’s department, Smith said.

The contempt motion said employees of the Hinds County Sheriff Department, specifically spokesman Othor Cain and Chief Deputy Chris Picou, released prohibited grand jury material to the televisions and radio stations and on a blog.

Picou said the department will fight the citation.

“This is aggravating. It’s just a waste of valuable time that we could be using to get criminals off the street. I would rather be talking about the good things we are doing to get the robbers, the drug dealers and other criminals off the streets,” Picou said.

Smith’s action is the latest in an ongoing dispute among those in the criminal justice system in Hinds County as to who is responsible for jail problems outlined in a scathing grand jury report two weeks ago. The report called Sheriff Tyrone Lewis incompetent to run jail operations and asking a judge to remove him from overseeing the jail and inmates. Lewis blamed jail problems on a broken criminal justice system.


Information from: The Clarion-Ledger, https://www.clarionledger.com

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