I am Tom Freeland, a lawyer in Oxford, Mississippi. The picture in the header is my law office. I'm on Twitter as NMissC

Missing Posts: If you have a link to a post that's not here or are looking for posts from Summer of 2010, check this page.


Miss. DOC commissioner Chris Epps resigns– and prison call phone scams are connected…

One of the more repulsive aspects of representing folks who are held in state jails is dealing with the private telephone services that contract with those jails. Family, lawyers, and anyone trying to communicate with inmates find themselves dealing with companies that just seem to be running a scam– rates several orders of magnitude higher than any others, bizarre schemes that require pre-purchased time with accounts that require payments for call, but that expire (with all kinds of charges– e.g. a monthly charge because you haven’t made a call lately).

Well, there might be more indications than my gut that these jail telephone schemes are a scam. One of today’s headlines involved the sudden resignation of Mississippi DOC head Chris Eppes, and, at the same time, the seizure of his house, beach house, and two Benzes (really great asset list for a public servant, dontcha think?). At the same time, the school board president in Rankin County resigned, with reports that he had companies doing business with the Department of Corrections. Kingfish reports a partial explanation– and it is the phone scam:

Rankin County School Board President Cecil McCrory resigned his position yesterday. Mr. McCrory owns several companies that provide telephone and commissary services to prisons such as G T Enterprises of Ms, Correctional Communications of Ms, and Mississippi Correctional Communications. A 2011 PEER report criticized MDOC for issuing a “no-bid” contract to G T in 2007 even though it was legal. The report stated G T was the largest provider of canteen goods for MDOC. MDOC awarded a similar contract to Keefe Commissary Network, LLC in 2008.

A chart about voters and age from TPM

More here at TalkingPointsMemo.

Being an Ole Miss fan will break your heart. That, and the lost cause


When I was fourteen, kids in town could sell football programs.  We’d get a ticket to the game as a part of the deal, and we’d come home with a good chunk of change if we were good at selling programs.  Kids really devoted to making money would sell soft drinks during the game, too, and come home even better off.  I sold programs, and frequently would go on and sell cokes.  I remember being excited with coming home with $73 from a game (this was in the late 60s), and the money I made was part of how I got my first ten speed bike.

The year I turned fifteen was Archie Manning’s senior year.  That year, I’d sell programs, and get into the games, and pretty much watch the games rather than sell soft drinks.

The most memorable, and horrible, moment I witnessed was when Manning’s arm was broken in an assault by players from the University of Houston.  It has always been my worst memory of a sporting event, and I was sure I’d never see anything that bothered me as much.  Until tonight.


In some ways, I think I’m the last generation of white southerners to grow up influenced by the idea of the Lost Cause, an idea that was perfectly expressed by William Faulkner in Intruder in the Dust, describing that moment at Gettysburg before Pickett’s charge:

For every Southern boy fourteen years old, not once but whenever he wants it, there is the instant when it’s still not yet two o’clock on that July afternoon in 1863, the brigades are in position behind the rail fence, the guns are laid and ready in the woods and the furled flags are already loosened to break out and Pickett himself with his long oiled ringlets and his hat in one hand probably and his sword in the other looking up the hill waiting for Longstreet to give the word and it’s all in the balance, it hasn’t happened yet, it hasn’t even begun yet, it not only hasn’t begun yet but there is still time for it not to begin against that position and those circumstances which made more men than Garnett and Kemper and Armstead and Wilcox look grave yet it’s going to begin, we all know that, we have come too far with too much at stake and that moment doesn’t need even a fourteen-year-old boy to think This time. Maybe this time with all this much to lose and all this much to gain: Pennsylvania, Maryland, the world, the golden dome of Washington itself to crown with desperate and unbelievable victory the desperate gamble, the cast made two years ago….

The idea that this… tragedy (not how I see it, now, but bear with me) could have gone another way, and imagining it at that moment was central to the school boy’s view of the lost cause, perfectly expressed by this passage.

I am not the first person to connect this notion of tragic loss to Ole Miss football.  My friend and law school compatriot Sam Tumey won the Faux Faulkner contest one year with a rewrite of the Pickett’s charge passage set in the moment before Billy Cannon’s punt return.

I’m not sure when the idea of the Lost Cause got connected to Ole Miss football.  Maybe we would have been better off without the rebel flags and other trappings.  Maybe it’s karma.  But I have never been fully able to shake the idea that there is some sort of connection.


Last week’s LSU game was one of the worst sporting events I’ve watched on television, comparable to the 1969 game when Alabama and Scott Hunter beat Ole Miss and the last two games of the 1985 World Series (I am a Cardinals fan).  It was upsetting.  But tonight, watching the game with Auburn inside the stadium got to me in a way comparable to my fourteen-year-old self watching Manning’s arm broken.

After a brilliant run, and a brilliant game, Laquon Treadwell went into the end zone, apparently scoring the winning touchdown.  I’m not as clear he was horse-collared, but it seemed clear to me he broke the plane with the ball in his hands.  That doesn’t really matter as much, though, at the injury that was the cost of that final play.  It was very sad, and very tough to watch.

It was clear he was badly hurt, and it was very hard to take without reacting against Auburn fans around me shouting, with a nasty edge to their voice, “Get him off the field,” and, essentially, jeering at a seriously injured player.  I’ve not really experienced that sort of disregard for an injury from the other team quite that way.


I don’t intend any of this to suggest I am a front-running sort of fan.  The team this year has given everyone a ride better than we could have expected, and I’m hopeful for the games to come.  The offense played an exciting game today, and Treadwell was brilliant.

Who knows– if we win out, and Bama beats State and Auburn, and LSU beats Bama (not an impossible sequence?) there’s a five way tie in the SEC west.  In any event, it’s been a thrilling year, already.  But the tragedy at the end of the game tonight was a heartbreaker.

Region’s Bank Customer Service

I have a few accounts at Regions Bank, out of some form of inertia.  They originated when the place was called Bank of Oxford.  Yesterday while I was out of town, some person at Regions called the office and asked for me and would not leave a number but asked me to call back.

So I look in the phone book and, for each branch in town they list the same 1-800 number.  I called that number.  It gives me four options:  Information on existing accounts, information on branch and atm locations, reporting a card lost or stolen, or information on new accounts.

I press 1.

It asks for my SSN.  I give it that.  It asks for a telephone banking pin.  I have never set up a telephone banking pin.

I go back to the phone numbers in the phone book.  There’s a number below all the branch numbers for mortgage information.  I know that’s not it, but call it anyway.  I get a voice message from someone (whose name I do not recognize) stating that she no longer works at Regions and gives a long list of other people I could call.  I don’t recognize any of those names either, and give up and hang up.

I call back the 1-800 number again and go through the options again to write this post.  While I’m typing and not providing a telephone pin (after a long time just hanging there), the computer tells me it does not recognize my response (I made none!) and was going to connect me to someone.  Well, good.  I let that happen. I get someone on the phone who can provide me with no information or even an educated guess as to why I was favored with the call yesterday.  She gives me another 1800 number I can try…

“Shiny objects have no place in the law.”

While you await my discussion of the McDaniel election contest opinion, I will direct your attention to Anderson’s quotation and discussion of the Tea Party response. The response contains the sentence quoted in the title of this post. While I cannot explain its meaning, I make some notes about the recurrence of warnings about “shiny objects” in various right wing media outlets.

And, as an aside, shiny objects do, in fact, have their place in the law, but they are quite literally shiny objects.  The phrase is a favorite for law enforcement officers who happen upon someone allegedly carrying drugs.  The officers regularly report seeing the suspect discard a “shiny object:”

testified that as he approached the defendant he saw him throw a silver colored object into the weeds about 2 or 3 feet away. Hunt went to the area and picked up a cigarette lighter which he identified at the trial as the lighter he retrieved from the weeds. He searched the area and found no other shiny objects.
State v. Allen, 183 Neb. 831, 832, 164 N.W.2d 662, 663 (1969).  Occasionally the shiny object is a spent cartridge in the grass, and a couple of time it is smuggled emeralds.  Only in one instance (of 49 cases where the phrase crops up in Westlaw) are the shiny objects metaphorical, in a case where the prosecutor in closing warns that the apparent contradictions cited by the defense are just “shiny objects:”
Trying to have shiny objects on the edge that you’ll focus your attention to instead of where it needs to be on what happened.
People v. Ring, 298074, 2011 WL 4104959 (Mich. Ct. App. Sept. 15, 2011)

Watch this Space

Will be posting, I hope later today, about the McDaniel election challenge. Lots to digest and much is occurring that is not the internet.

Last night was a crazy dream, right?

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Big Gay Ice Cream Truck comes to Oxford

New York’s Big Gay Ice Cream Truck is a pioneer and national award winner in the food truck business. They’re doing a Southern Tour, hitting North Carolina, Atlanta (yesterday & today), Birmingham (tomorrow, near Highlands at Five Points), and then Oxford outside Big Bad Breakfast on Friday afternoon. They are writing about the Southern tour on their blog.  I’ve heard great things about them, including the offerings on the Southern tour, and intend to check it out.  Southern Foodways describes some options:

Big Gay Ice Cream will be serving in the Big Bad Breakfast parking lot, 2 pm-10 pm. You’ve got 48 hrs to decide between the Salty Pimp, the Bea Arthur, and the Godzilla.

Here’s their description:

Does today’s MissSupCt sentencing opinion preview part of McDaniel opinion?

In the oral argument for the McDaniel senate election challenge, Justice Coleman’s questions were all directed to a extraordinarily narrow view of appropriate statutory construction, a view that seemed to go to the point of refusing to make sense out of what the legislature had done and applying a restrictive and extremely literal approach. His questions also suggested that he viewed this as essentially constitutionally dictated.

A sentencing opinion today in the Mississippi Supreme Court raises some of these issues.

There is a old and familiar rule in criminal sentencing that, where a statute has two sentencing options for the jury– a life sentence imposed by the jury or a term of greater than x imposed by the judge– and the jury rejects a life sentence, the judge is limited to some extent by the life expectancy of the defendant in the length of sentence, because of the jury’s rejection of the life sentence.

Justice Coleman is having none of it, because he says that it is something the court has written into the statute. Justice King responds that if all statutes were unambiguous and spoke clearly, there would be no need for judges.

In rejecting the rule, Justice Coleman specifically refuses to accept the concept that, where a later legislature readopts the statute without speaking to the construction, the legislature was presumed to have accepted it. He also gives the back of his hand to stare decisis.

Seems to me to speak pretty clearly what is on his mind about issues arising in the McDaniel challenge. Of course that is just one vote of six or possibly seven who are sitting on the case.

Lafayette County Bar to sponsor judicial candidate forum October 21st

The Lafayette County Bar will hold a judicial candidate forum on October 21, 2014 at Boure starting at 4PM. All judicial candidates on the ballot in Lafayette County are invited, which means three candidates for a circuit post, three for a chancery post, and two for a second chancery post. Judge Jimmy Maxwell of the Court of Appeals will moderate. The LCBA is going to seek an hour of CLE credit for the forum, and is charging $15 to attend, to cover appetizers and the CLE credit. There will be a cash bar.

They are inviting questions in advance and asking they be designated as relating to chancery or circuit practice. If you want to ask a question, they are asking they be submitted to Samantha Weathersby, the local bar treasurer, by 5PM on October 20, 2014. I will provide her email on request and the form for registering; just drop me an email or provide your email in comments.