Federal Court throws out Arnold Smith lawsuit against AG, DA

Today, Federal Magistrate Judge David A. Sanders dismissed Dr. Arnold
Smith’s civil rights lawsuit filed against Attorney General Jim Hood and
District Attorney Willie Dwayne Richardson. The Court ruled that federal law
and precedent bars the federal court from interfering in the state’s
prosecution of Dr. Smith for capital murder in the death of Keaira Byrd.

Judge Sanders’ order of dismissal can be seen here:

His memorandum opinion can be seen here:

On the night of April 28, 2012, Keaira Byrd and Derrick Lacy entered the law
office of Lee Abraham. AG investigators shot and killed Byrd, and wounded
Lacy. Smith was arrested the next morning and charged with conspiracy to
commit murder (of Lee Abraham) and capital murder for the death of Byrd.
Police allege that Smith conspired with Byrd to kill Lee Abraham, and they
produced a video tape in court which appears to support that allegation.

Smith has claimed all along that he cannot be charged with the murder of
Byrd since the AG investigators, and not Smith, actually killed him.

Smith took this claim to the federal courts, seeking an injunction
prohibiting the District Attorney and the AG from prosecuting him for the
capital murder. He also alleges that the DA failed to provide him with a
timely arraignment, and proffered false testimony that he killed Byrd, when
in fact the AG investigators killed Byrd.

Smith’s federal complaint may be seen here:

A hearing had been scheduled for January 25, 2013 on Dr. Smith’s motion for
a temporary injunction to stop his prosecution in state court.

Meanwhile, Dr. Smith’s attorney William C. Bell had subpoenaed AG Jim Hood,
the assistant DA Timothy Jones, and AG investigator Tony Green (involved in
the law office incident), to appear in Federal Court to give testimony.

The State moved to quash the subpoenas or stop the testimony, on the basis
that Smith’s complaint was all about questions of law rather than fact, and
that their testimony was irrelevant to the core of his claims.

The State also claimed that Smith’s attorney was using the federal case as a
ploy to conduct discovery by forcing testimony from government witnesses in
federal court that is not permitted to criminal defendants under state law.
In Mississippi, criminal defendants cannot compel testimony from hostile
witnesses before the trial, but have to take their chances in open court to
find out what the testimony of those witnesses will be.

The Federal Magistrate Judge ruled that the Younger Abstention doctrine bars
the court from interfering with or stopping the state court criminal case
from proceeding. The Judge stated that the questions raised by Dr. Smith in
federal court “are all interesting questions,” but that they must be
addressed in state court in the usual course of the criminal proceedings

John Pittman Hey
Greenwood, MS