Conviction vacated, but no release while state appeals

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

ABERDEEN – Billy Allen McCamey will remain in prison while the state appeals a federal judge’s order that his 2003 conviction be vacated.
U.S. District Judge Sharion Aycock on Tuesday also halted his release and denied him bond, as she stopped the clock on a new-trial timetable while the state appeals to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.
McCamey and a co-defendant were arrested in July 2002 in Columbus and charged with possession of meth ingredients, knowing they were to be used unlawfully to make the drug. McCamey was convicted during a second trial in Lowndes County and sentenced to 33 years in prison.
During that trial, a juror, who had personal issues with McCamey’s attorney, allegedly went unnoticed by his attorney until the jurors were polled after he was convicted. McCamey declined to be given a new attorney and signed away his right to raise the “juror issue” or a claim of ineffective counsel on appeal.
Four days later, when McCamey asked for a new trial, saying his attorney manipulated him into signing the waiver, the judge denied his request. His subsequent appeals were denied by the Mississippi Court of Appeals and the state Supreme Court.
In his 2006 federal request for a new trial, he claims that his waiver of rights to a fair trial with impartial jurors and his waiver of rights to a conflict-free counsel are contrary to established federal law.
Magistrate Judge Jerry A. Davis’ conclusions, issued Jan. 22, said McCamey’s “purported waiver” to his fair-jury trial is invalid and that his attorney was operating under actual conflicts of interest in representing him during the waiver hearing.
In a 71-page report, Davis said the man’s conviction should be vacated and he be released from state custody with a new trial to begin within 120 days of Aycock’s decision on his recommendations.
Tupelo attorney Jim Waide represented McCamey on the federal appeal.

Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@djournal.com.