Hardy trial and other things

First, the staff of life: politics.

No big surprise Sen. Thad Cochran is going to vote against Sonya Sotomayor for U.S. Supreme Court. He always follows whatever Sen. Roger Wicker does.

Isn’t that it, … or is the other way around? Whew, I’ve been in court too long this week.

Bigger question: Why did the Neshoba County Fair NOT invite Philadelphia’s new mayor (who is black) and Central Supreme Court Justice James Graves (who is black)? I adore new Justice Jim Kitchens (who is white), also Central District, but he’s been invited to speak next Thursday while Graves hasn’t.

Is there something racial going on here? In Neshoba County? Naaaaaah? (I’m from Pike County. I can talk about Neshoba anytime.)

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Speaking of court, Tupelo PD Chief Harold Chaffin is spending a lot of time in federal court this week. He’s sitting at the defense counsel table with city attorneys John S. Hill and Berkley Huskison as the city seeks to fend off former Capt. Cliff Hardy‘s lawsuit.

Hardy contends he was run out of the department after he spoke in defense of a colleague, then Deputy Chief Robert Hall, who Hardy said was being persecuted because of his race. Hardy is white and Hall is black.

Looks like the jury could make up its mind before the sun sets Thursday.

It’s hard to say which way the seven whites and one black jury will go. They’ve been reasonably attentive all week, but the U.S. District Court courtroom in Aberdeen has been so cold that I’m not sure Justice Scalia could concentrate sufficiently.

Frankly, when I’m cold, it’s bad news. We all almost died of frostbite and chills on Monday, when I learned that the temp is controlled by some federal bureaucrat in Washington. Lordy, go figure!

Anyway, somehow the afternoon temps have improved. Still, the jurors arrived Tuesday in jackets and sweaters. TV colleague Susan Parker looked like an Eskimo, and I brought a shawl and a blanket.

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You’ve got to wonder how long Tupelo PD Chief Harold Chaffin can hang on.

Chaffin categorically denies he’s had one thought about retirement, but he sure looked beleaguered and tired up there on the stand repeatedly Wednesday.

I have no doubts the new city administration has, at the least, casually chatted about new leadership in the police department.

Bound to happen – new Mayor Jack Reed Jr. is widely credited with helping ousted Deputy Chief Robert Hall with finding suitable employment with Community Development Foundation after Hall agreed to plead guilty to misdemeanors and resign from TPD.

Unverified talk also speculates several recent employment lawsuits against the city have drive up its liability insurance. We’ll have to see about that rumor.

Regardless, the new Reed Administration appears to welcome the challenges.

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Good news for Scruggs-DeLaughter trial junkies:

Thanks to Senior Judge Glen Davidson (my son’s a fan) for deciding to establish a “media room” for reporters during the trial of disgraced Hinds Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter.

Also, thanks to me for nagging Chief Judge Michael P. Mills to let me bring my laptop into the federal courtrooms to cover trials.

I asked for laptop use several months ago, but last week, I spoke with Mills to tell him that the U.S. District Court in Houston, Texas, where the big Stanford doin’s are going on, lets anybody in with a laptop – EVEN reporters!

I give Mills credit. He’s open to new ideas, so he said he’s pass that info along to Judge Davidson. (It also sounds like the court is looking at wider media access.)

To my great delight, I learned quickly about the DeLaughter arrangements. Trial is set to begin in Oxford Aug. 17.

Judge DeLaughter has pleaded not guilty to charges he allowed himself to be bribed in a legal-fees case against Dickie Scruggs. He also is accused of mail fraud and of lying to investigators.

Now, I’ve got to get myself some wi-fi so I can blog live from the courtroom. I’ll figure out something.

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Sorry I failed with a column today (Thursday), but this Aberdeen court gig has taken all the spark out of my brain.

BTW, thanks go heaven-ward for the rain this week. My garden needed it, and I’ve loved not turning on the A/C since Saturday!

Keep readin’…. Patsy

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