- Associated Press - Saturday, January 7, 2017

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - A Jackson Police Department dispatcher served on the jury that considered a criminal case against Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith.

Other jurors told The Clarion-Ledger (https://on.thec-l.com/2i1YGgu) that the woman dominated deliberations and argued in favor of convicting Smith, who was charged with hindering the prosecution of a criminal defendant.

The judge declared a mistrial Wednesday after jurors said they couldn’t agree on a verdict. State Attorney General Jim Hood, whose office prosecuted the case, said a mistrial was the “only appropriate result” after disclosure that a juror knew Smith but failed to reveal that during jury selection.

Hood says he will try the case again, and Judge Larry Roberts set a June 12 trial date.

Juror Anna Scott said she wrote the note that tipped off the judge and attorneys, which read: “What do we do about a juror who has previous knowledge of Robert Smith and has a previously formed opinion of him and is basing her verdict on previous knowledge and opinion instead of current evidence?”

The note referenced Sharron Sullivan, who works as a JPD dispatcher and had a preconceived opinion that Smith was guilty, jurors told the newspaper.

Scott told The Clarion-Ledger that Sullivan made comments in deliberation about various prosecutable drug charges “disappearing” once they get to the district attorney’s office. Two jurors confirmed Sullivan said Smith was on the department’s “radar,” suggesting this supports his guilt.

“That didn’t come up during the trial. That was all previous knowledge of him,” Scott said.

Sullivan did not return calls to The Clarion-Ledger on Friday.

Scott, who voted not guilty, said apart from Sullivan, the few jurors who were inclined to find Smith guilty seemed to have had an open mind and were willing to look back over the evidence. But Sullivan prevented any further discussion from happening, Scott said.

Smith chose not to testify, but he made his own closing arguments Wednesday. Felony charges accuse him of plotting with former Assistant District Attorney Ivon Johnson to hinder prosecution of a criminal defendant named Christopher Butler. Smith says Butler was innocent.


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

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