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.


Photo: Lafayette County covered bridge and unidentified boy, early 1950s


This is one of my favorite Lafayette County vintage photos I’ve ever seen.

It is a covered bridge that was torn down about 1952 or 1953.  Joe Black, posting on Facebook, identified it as “the covered bridge at Fudgetown;”I’m guessing it was below Fudgetown (the road from Fudgetown south crossed the Yocona River with an iron bridge that was abandoned by the time I was in high school in the early 1970s).  Joe Black reports that his grandfather and great-uncle tore the bridge down between 1953 and 1955.  I knew of at least two wooden bridges over the Yocona River between Fudgetown and where Highway 7 crossed the river that were still standing in the 70s; I wonder if this is the superstructure over one of them.


Christmas music (and greetings): “Its Christmas time in Hollis, Queens Mom’s cooking chicken and collard greens…”

…Rice and stuffing, macaroni and cheese,
And Santa putting gifts under Christmas trees.

Merry Christmas!

Run-DMC sings “Christmas in Hollis,” with horns and backing that really remind me of the Stax approach to Christmas music.  Bear with the video until 0:47 point, roughly.

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A Christmas Poem about King John

King John’s Christmas

by A.A. Milne from Now We are Six.

King John was not a good man –
He had his little ways.
And sometimes no one spoke to him
For days and days and days.
And men who came across him,
When walking in the town,
Gave him a supercilious stare,
Or passed with noses in the air –
And bad King John stood dumbly there,
Blushing beneath his crown.

King John was not a good man,
And no good friends had he.
He stayed in every afternoon…
But no one came to tea.
And, round about December,
The cards upon his shelf
Which wished him lots of Christmas cheer,
And fortune in the coming year,
Were never from his near and dear,
But only from himself.

Continue reading A Christmas Poem about King John

Legal Authority for Odd Propositions (Missouri and, updated, New Jersey divisions): “The people of this state are not idiots.”

“The people of this state are not idiots.”  State, on Inf. McKittrick v. Wymore, 345 Mo. 169, 184, 132 S.W.2d 979, 988 (1939); see State v. Winne, 21 N.J. Super. 180, 225, 91 A.2d 65, 87 (Ch. Div. 1952) rev’d on other grounds, 12 N.J. 152, 96 A.2d 63 (1953) (“The people of this State are not idiots.”).

Oddly enough, both cases involve prosecutors, public corruption, and gambling, although the later New Jersey case does not cite the earlier Missouri one.  The New Jersey opinion ends with a great flourish:

The people of this State are not idiots. They do not need to be expert in the niceties of the common law to realize the vast power of the county prosecutor and the capacity his office affords for moral leadership in the field of law enforcement. They sense intuitively the respect which his office can engender in police circles, and his obligation to be zealous in this field in the pursuit of public justice. The people do not expect their ‘minister of justice’ to be a witch hunter, or to pour out the resources of his effort by investigating grammar school picnics to learn whether some one is selling ‘chances’ on a chocolate cake. But on the other hand, they realize that syndicated crime in the field of gambling spawns and nourishes official corruption. By television and other modern communications, and in the press, as well as in Grand Jury rooms, the people have finally had a look at the scoundrels who have presided at the tawdry feast of politics and crime, of official corruption and graft. They have emerged from the coma of complacency of the two post-war periods which our *226 generation has seen, and have become more sophisticated. The know that is **88 meant in underworld parlance when a community is said to be ‘wide open’ or ‘closed up tight’, and are aware that these conditions are responsive to the attitude of those charged with enforcement of the law. I am sure the public is unconvinced by breast thumping that wide-spread syndicated crime can exist notoriously and corrupt the law enforcement machinery of our communities, and the State remain powerless.
State v. Winne, 21 N.J. Super. at 225-26, 91 A.2d at 87-88.

Great Bill Withers interview about making the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Rolling Stone talked to Bill Withers (“Lean on Me” “Ain’t no Sunshine”) about making the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  The interview is hilarious, a must read even if you care about neither the hall of fame nor Withers.  A couple of highlights:

If you think about it, it’s an odd collection of people, from Elvis Presley to Miles Davis, in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I just never felt that anyone owed me this. It’s something that’s nice that happened. I guess I’ll have to go buy a suit.

About people thinking he’s already died:

A very famous minister, who will remain nameless, actually called me to find out whether I was dead or not.

What did you say?

I said, “Let me check.”

About whether he wants to perform at the induction ceremony:

So, putting aside the question of whether you physically can perform at the Hall of Fame, is it something that you would want to do?

Of course I want to play. We can get into “want to’s.” I want to pose nude in Playboy magazine if they still have one. I want to walk around with my shirt off, oiled-up on a hot day and making women’s socks roll up and down. There are some people that can sing in their later years and some of them that can’t. I don’t want to be on of those old guys that sounds like a gerbil trying to give birth to a hippopotamus. So, we’ll see. Now you’ve got me all motivated. Now, I’ve gotta see if I can’t conjure it up. One of my favorite shows is the Big Bang Theory. You know that episode where Shelton is going to concentrate and try and make Leonard’s head blow up? [Laughs] I’m going to be like that.

Today’s Mississippi lawyer internet scam is the cancelled Automated Clearing House transfer…

… which involves an odd email from what appears to be a small Jackson law firm with the subject line:  “Cancelled Automated Clearing House Transaction” and a text purporting to tell me that such a transfer from my “online bank account” (no account specified) “was cancelled by the Electronic Payments Association.”  There follows information that seems to suggest that a payment of a couple of thousand dollars has been cancelled and that the reason is contained in the attached document file.

I have no idea what the attached document file might say because I did not open it.

The Jackson firm no longer exists, and the lawyer who appears on the email no longer uses that email address.  His address was obviously spoofed by whoever originated the scam.  Meanwhile, as is often the case, Snopes.com has some details about the scam.  I didn’t delve far enough into it to have any idea how they pull the money out of it.  I was impressed enough by the email to read it but insufficiently impressed to open the attachments; instead I went straight to Google to confirm my instinctive reaction.

Meanwhile:  An imagined dialogue–

passerby:  Where have you been? What’s with the blog.

me: Well, that requires a longer answer than I want to make right now.  Suffice it to say, some health issues, work, some Thanksgiving and New Orleans time with family.

passerby: Hope the health issues are ok?

me:  Working on it.  And hope to be back to regular blogging soon.



Complete returns for the Third Circuit judge race, and some notes on what changed between the general election and the run-off

Here are the returns for the Third Circuit Court run-off election yesterday.

  Byers   Luther  
  Number Percentage Number Percentage
Benton 239 29.65% 567 70.35%
Calhoun 230 16.56% 1159 83.44%
Chickasaw 760 39.62% 1158 60.38%
Lafayette 615 18.72% 2671 81.28%
Marshall 1555 49.02% 1617 50.98%
Tippah 202 7.59% 2460 92.41%
Union 116 4.69% 2358 95.31%
Total 3717 23.66% 11990 76.34%

It was obviously a resounding victory for Kelly Luther.  One way to look at such an election is to ask:  What percentage of the general election vote did the candidates get in the run-off?  Did they get their voters out the second time?

The answer suggests that the voters in the run-off went with very decided opinions about the election– Kelly Luther didn’t just hold his vote, he improved it in several counties.  In Lafayette County, the largest in the district, he got over 96% of the voters he had in the general election, which had a top-of-the-ticket election many more people knew about and possibly cared about.  Byers only brought out about 18% of her general election voters in Lafayette.  In Tippah County, his home county, he brought out over 227% of his general election vote, more than doubling, while Byers brought out only about 19%.  In Marshall County, Byers’s home county, Luther brought out over 183% and Byers only 44%.

In sum, Luther held 94% of his vote and Byers only just over 26%.

  Byers Luther
Benton 30.88% 112.06%
Calhoun 18.21% 77.58%
Chickasaw 38.27% 77.56%
Lafayette 15.98% 96.39%
Marshall 43.59% 183.54%
Tippah 18.67% 227.36%
Union 7.41% 77.06%
Total 26.39% 93.65%



I have total returns for all counties (from the Daily Journal), and county returns for Chickasaw County (from the Chickasaw Daily Journal) and Lafayette County (obtained by me from the Circuit Clerk).  I do not have returns for Marshall, although I have been reliably informed that Kelly Luther carried that county, Benton, Calhoun, Tippah, and Union Counties.

County Byers Luther
Number Percentage Number Percentage
Chickasaw 760 39.62% 1158 60.38%
Lafayette 615 18.70% 2674 81.30%
Other 2,342 22.30% 8,158 77.70%
Total 3,717 23.66% 11,990 76.34%

Today: Vote in the Third Circuit Court judicial runoff in North Mississippi


Folks in the following counties have an important judicial election tomorrow:  Lafayette, Benton, Calhoun, Chickasaw, Marshall, Tippah, Union.  The candidates on the ballot are Kelly Luther and Shirley Byers.  I have previously posted about Shirley Byers’s prior experience as a judge.

I am supporting Kelly Luther.  He has 19 years experience as a prosecutor, all of it within this Third Circuit Court district, primarily in Tippah County, where he lives.  I have spoken to a full range of members of the legal profession; he has the respect of everyone who has directly dealt with him that I’ve spoken to.  Defense lawyer view him as a skilled but quite fair-minded prosecutor.  “Fair-minded” is critical here; there is always a danger in elevating a prosecutor to the bench that they retain the mind-set of an aggressive prosecutor.  Talking to the defense bar about Kelly Luther make me not much worry about that.  He worked before that in an excellent firm in Tupelo, Mitchell, Vogue, Beasley and Corban.

My reasons for opposing Shirley Byers are best explained by reading this post.

You vote at your usual polling place at the usual time.  With the exception of folks who are in the Oxford Separate School District but outside the city limits, I believe this will be the only thing on the ballot.

I have not been posting lately because personal life and work demands have occupied my time very close to completely.  More later during the week, probably leaning toward food-related posts.

Congress gave the President the authority to “Establish[ ] national immigration enforcement policies and priorities” and that’s what Obama did

The quote in the title is the full text of 6 U.S.C. § 202(5).

Executive discretion– the most familiar example being prosecutorial discretion– is a bedrock concept of our law.  The executive cannot pursue every case, and so they have the authority, often explicitly granted by statute, to select what cases to pursue.  It is not just legal but a good thing that this discretion can be exercised case-by-case (deciding whether individual cases warrant prosecution, for instance) or through policy (deciding which cases most warrant prosecution resources and which ones, as a matter of policy, do not).  Immigration law is an area where Congress has explicitly granted the President the authority to make these sorts of choices, including at the level of having policies about which cases to pursue deportation and which cases to not pursue deportation.  Congress has explicitly provided principles for that exercise that provides that the policies should favor deportation of criminals, national security threats, and the like, over people who are merely working here.

And that has what the President has done.  I have three essential readings on the subject.  One is from Eric Posner, a law professor at the University of Chicago who served as a lawyer in the most recent Bush administration.  The other is from Walter Dellinger, who served as the director of the Office of Legal Counsel from 1993-1996.  Both say it is crystal clear that this is legal.  The third is the actual opinion by Justice Department lawyers about what sort of discretionary policies would be legal and, in one instance, what would not.

Congress could legislate away or limit the discretion it has explicitly granted, but won’t because it would still present a problem– Congress is only funding resources to deport about 400,000 a year, and so somehow and someway, discretion is going to be exercised in selecting who those 400,000 might be.  Surely allocation of resources by a plan would be better than essentially saying “Pick up the first 400,000 undocumented folks you get your hands upon.”

There are demagogues out there screaming for impeachment, which is ludicrous given the clear law here.  The more lunatic even scream for criminal prosecution and jail– one tweet seemed to think that the “maximum punishment” could proceed after impeachment, evincing a failure to understand that part of the constitution, too (the term for what happens after impeachment is “removal”– or not– and not punishment).  This is a demographic that seems particularly impervious to evidence-based analysis, but what can we do?