Judge ponders motions in attorney-drug case

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, October 7, 2003

LIBERTY – Decisions on several motions filed by the defense willbe made in a few days in the case of a McComb attorney accused ofselling marijuana to an inmate in the Lincoln County Jail.

Judge Al Johnson, a special circuit court judge appointed by theMississippi Supreme Court, heard closing statements Monday in AmiteCounty and took the motions under advisement. He said he would ruleon several motions to suppress evidence and a second change ofvenue motion by Thursday.

An amended motion to suppress evidence on the grounds of anofficer’s authority to assist in the investigation and a secondchange of venue motion were filed Sept. 29.

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Monday’s hearing was the third in a series of testimony todetermine if evidence gained in the investigation would be allowedduring trial, which is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 14. Prosecutionevidence includes a videotape made in the jail allegedly showingthe transaction between John Jackson, a McComb attorney, and a jailinmate.

Monday’s hearing was set when two witnesses for the defensefailed to appear for a hearing in mid-September.

One of those witnesses, a former jail inmate, was present in thecourtroom Monday, but was dismissed without being called.

“From the initial discussion to now, his opinion has totallychanged,” said Charles Miller, Jackson’s attorney.

The second witness was not present and Johnson asked Miller totell him what his testimony would be. The judge then allowed Millerand District Attorney Danny Smith to argue the expected testimony,which was regarding the authority of Mississippi Department ofCorrections Officer John Purser to assist in the investigation.

The judge also listened to Miller’s argument for submitting asecond change of venue motion. Johnson had earlier granted a changeof venue moving the trial from Lincoln County to Liberty atMiller’s request.

At that time, Miller had encouraged the judge to reconsider thelocation because it was still within the local media’s coveragearea and suggested the trial be moved to Wilkinson County.

Miller again urged the judge to consider Wilkinson CountyMonday.

Jackson, 54, of 225 South Fourth St., McComb, was arrested June4 following an undercover operation conducted in the Lincoln CountyJail on June 3. He was later indicted by the Lincoln County GrandJury.

Jackson has denied selling marijuana in the jail, saying he wasframed by an habitual offender who had something to gain by helpingauthorities. He has also filed a multi-million dollar civil lawsuitagainst authorities who conducted the undercover operation.