Judge sets date in much-delayed simple assault trial

By By Suzanne Monk / managing editor
June 22, 2004
More lawyers than clients appeared Monday in Lauderdale County Justice Court to argue about a much-delayed trial in an alleged simple assault that occurred last year at the Moose Lodge.
The attorneys for the defendants wanted an immediate trial or a dismissal. The special prosecutor wanted a trial date sometime after this week.
Neither side got what it wanted, and Judge William Gunn didn't let anyone leave the building until a new date had been set.
The background
The alleged simple assault that resulted in misdemeanor criminal charges happened in September 2003 after controversy over accusations of racial bigotry, fraud and favoritism at the 186th Air Refueling Wing broke.
The whistle-blower in that case, retired Col. Joe H. Bryant Jr., had words at the Moose Lodge with two former members of the unit Leslie "Zero" Wilkes and Tommy Temple.
Bryant filed misdemeanor charges against both at the Meridian Police Department. Bryant said they pushed him, verbally assaulted him and threatened him with a weapon.
After that, there was a series of delays, mostly involving recusals by judges and attorneys assigned to the case, including Lauderdale County Attorney Justin Cobb.
In the most recent development before Monday's hearing, Bryant had become dissatisfied with the attorney called in to replace Cobb Martin "Buddy" Oden, who is Cobb's counterpart in Kemper County.
What happened Monday
Oden had filed a motion to withdraw from the case. Bryant wanted Meridian attorney Bill Ready Jr. to be named special prosecutor. And, Ready wanted a trial delay because he had only recently taken Bryant on as a client.
The attorneys representing Wilkes and Temple, Dan Self and Bob Bresnahan of Meridian, said there had already been too many delays and moved for an immediate trial or a dismissal of the charges.
Judge Gunn granted Oden's request to withdraw. Ready was named special prosecutor.
The judge denied Self and Bresnahan's motions, but insisted that both sides agree on a trial date before the hearing was adjourned.
Friday was suggested, which was OK with the defense. It was not OK with Ready, who said two principal witnesses could not testify then because they will be out of town.
Judge Gunn set the trial for Friday at 8:30 a.m. over Ready's objections.

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