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Federal Court throws out Arnold Smith lawsuit against AG, DA

Thursday, January 17, 2013, 9:16 pm News Flash Archive

Today, Federal Magistrate Judge David A. Sanders dismissed Dr. Arnold Smith's civil rights lawsuit filed against Attorney General Jim Hood and District Attorney Willie Dwayne Richardson. The Court ruled that federal law and precedent bars the federal court from interfering in the state's prosecution of Dr. Smith for capital murder in the death of Keaira Byrd.

Judge Sanders' order of dismissal can be seen here:
Order of Dismissal

His memorandum opinion can be seen here:
Memorandum Opinion

On the night of April 28, 2012, Keaira Byrd and Derrick Lacy entered the law office of Lee Abraham. AG investigators shot and killed Byrd, and wounded Lacy. Smith was arrested the next morning and charged with conspiracy to commit murder (of Lee Abraham) and capital murder for the death of Byrd. Police allege that Smith conspired with Byrd to kill Lee Abraham, and they produced a video tape in court which appears to support that allegation.

Smith has claimed all along that he cannot be charged with the murder of Byrd since the AG investigators, and not Smith, actually killed him.

Smith took this claim to the federal courts, seeking an injunction prohibiting the District Attorney and the AG from prosecuting him for the capital murder. He also alleges that the DA failed to provide him with a timely arraignment, and proffered false testimony that he killed Byrd, when in fact the AG investigators killed Byrd.

Smith's federal complaint may be seen here:
Arnold Smith Complaint

A hearing had been scheduled for January 25, 2013 on Dr. Smith's motion for a temporary injunction to stop his prosecution in state court.

Meanwhile, Dr. Smith's attorney William C. Bell had subpoenaed AG Jim Hood, the assistant DA Timothy Jones, and AG investigator Tony Green (involved in the law office incident), to appear in Federal Court to give testimony.

The State moved to quash the subpoenas or stop the testimony, on the basis that Smith's complaint was all about questions of law rather than fact, and that their testimony was irrelevant to the core of his claims.

The State also claimed that Smith's attorney was using the federal case as a ploy to conduct discovery by forcing testimony from government witnesses in federal court that is not permitted to criminal defendants under state law. In Mississippi, criminal defendants cannot compel testimony from hostile witnesses before the trial, but have to take their chances in open court to find out what the testimony of those witnesses will be.

The Federal Magistrate Judge ruled that the Younger Abstention doctrine bars the court from interfering with or stopping the state court criminal case from proceeding. The Judge stated that the questions raised by Dr. Smith in federal court "are all interesting questions," but that they must be addressed in state court in the usual course of the criminal proceedings there.

John Pittman Hey
The Taxpayers Channel

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