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Notes from the cops and courts beat

By By Suzanne Monk / managing editor
April 28, 2003
The 10th District's two circuit judges, Larry Roberts and Robert Bailey, are back from a three-day conference for trial and appellate judges held last week on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Lauderdale County's circuit court session has concluded, and both judges will be in Kemper County today as a grand jury convenes.
The most serious indictment handed down in March by a Lauderdale County grand jury charged two men one of them a former Marine "administratively separated" from the U.S. Navy after his arrest with capital murder.
There were, however, a couple others that caught my attention.
In one, five people were indicted for armed robbery and conspiracy to commit armed robbery. Three are young men in their late teens or early 20s neighbors on Hickory-Little Rock Road in Newton County. The other two are women a few years older who live at one address on Lou Lou Road.
In another, two Lauderdale teenagers, apparently brothers, have been indicted for seven counts of burglary of an auto.
I think it's the planning implied that bothers me when I see young people accused of doing crimes together … the suggestion of a strange sub-culture.
Quick takes
Dalewood roads: Property owner Dan Check has filed a civil lawsuit against the Dalewood Property Owners Association. At issue is whether the roads in the subdivision are public or private property.
Check says the county views them as public roads for appraisal and tax purposes. At the same time, Check says, the property owners association assesses dues to lot owners to pay for road maintenance. He demands that the association stop maintaining the roads and petition the county to do so instead.
What brought it all to a head was a meeting during which the membership voted to install gates on certain roads. Check asserts a number of problems with the meeting including lack of a quorum and improper proxy voting.
Gambling machines: Earlier this month, Chief Deputy Mike Mitchell supervised the destruction of illegal gambling machines seized in March 2001 at TA Travel Center. They were crushed with a bulldozer and then buried. More machines seized in a series of raids in June 2002 have not yet been destroyed because most of the cases have not yet worked their way through Justice Court.
What grand jury?: Every week, the Mississippi Court of Appeals and the Mississippi Supreme Court rule on appeals of a sort, called motions for post-conviction relief, filed by prisoners.
The most unusual one I've seen lately came from a man convicted of sale of cocaine in Wayne County. In it, the prisoner said he was the victim of a conspiracy. In support of his theory, he asserted that no grand jury met in the week he was indicted and challenged the state to prove it had.
Mail from jail: I get a lot of it. An inmate at East Mississippi Correctional Facility at Lost Gap says I should be more neutral. A couple of people convicted of crimes in Lauderdale County wrote to tell me they are innocent. Another man says he has information about an unsolved murder.
Timber theft: I left you hanging about whatever happened to Clarence Lard, indicted and then re-indicted on a charge of timber theft. Lard ultimately pleaded guilty and received a two-year non-adjudicated sentence. This means he won't be jailed and his record can be expunged if he successfully completes his probation.
In his petition to plead guilty, Lard said he thought the timber was on his land. As part of his plea bargain, he has agreed to testify in a civil trial filed by the timber owner against Lard's logging company and three others.