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Judge Delays Key Hearing on Barbour’s Pardons

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 23 Jan 2012 08:38pm | comments
The former governor's mansion trustees and their lawyer.

It will be at least another week before most of the people who received pardons from former Governor Haley Barbour will find out if they pass a constitutional test. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports on a delay issued yesterday in Hinds county court.

Soon after the hearing began in a Hinds County Courtroom, Judge Tommie Greene rebuked the lawyers for filing a slew of motions in recent days.

"I am good. But I am not so good for you to come the day of a hearing and start throwing motions in baskets the day before the hearing in emails," Greene said.

Attorney General Jim Hood says he was served with a motion just minutes before the start of the hearing and requested the additional time, and the judge agreed to move the hearing next Friday, February third. 

However, Hood says he is growing impatient with the delay and will ask for a summary judgment on the case to speed up the process and overturn the pardons on constitutional grounds.

"We have to have 30 days before we can move for summary judgment. And that is what we will do. We will move for summary judgment. Because it is is a straight up or down constitutional issue whether it was complied with or not. And I think we will be able to have a decision toward the end of February," Hood said.

Hood believes more than 170 of the Governor's 200 pardons did not meet notification rules laid out in the constitution.

Attorneys for 9 of the 10 people who received pardons but would still owe prison time are arguing that the pardons should stand.

Tom Fortner is representing four of the governor's mansion trustees who received pardons at the end of Barbour's term.

"The Governor has the absolute power to give or not give a pardon and he gave a pardon. I don't think that's an issue," Fortner said.

All but one person whose pardon fate hangs in the balance was at the Hinds County Courthouse yesterday.

Authorities are still looking for Joseph Ozment, who was one of the governor's mansion trustees.

The other 9 people must stay in contact with the department of corrections or continue in their custody in prison, until the constitutional issue is sorted out.



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