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.


Mississippi Supreme Court’s opinion in Carrothers v. State: Important case on experts & reliability of eyewitnesses

On Thursday, the Mississippi Supreme Court released an important decision in Carothers v. State, the core of which involved the admissibility of an expert witness the defendant offered on the science of the unreliability of eyewitness identification testimony.  The majority opinion, by Chandler, rejects admission largely on the theory that the expert did not observe the […]

Michelle Byrom: Miss. Supreme Court denies Attorney General’s request for an explanation

Recall that, in the last round, the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed Michelle Byrom’s conviction; it seemed fairly clear that the reversal was because there was a relevant confession that pointed toward Michell Byrom’s innocence, and that this confession was never disclosed to the defense lawyers.

The Attorney General responded by, more or less, demanding […]

Michelle Byrom: The Attorney General pleads, “Tell me why!”

The Attorney General responded to Tuesday’s order reversing Michelle Byrom’s conviction by noting that it is unprecedented since the re-imposition for the death penalty for a defendant to be allowed to win so resoundingly and so Court must explain itself.

Or something like that.

The motion makes a statement it ends with a question […]

Michelle Byrom: The Mississippi Supreme Court has ordered a new trial.

Update below

The Mississippi Supreme Court entered an order today that Michelle Byrom is to receive a new trial. They have also ordered that the trial be before a new judge, in an en banc order signed by Justice Coleman with no dissents.

This is extraordinary and unprecedented to my knowledge. The order says […]

Michelle Byrom news: Mississippi Supreme Court denies motion to set execution date

The Mississippi Supreme Court this afternoon denied the state’s motion to set an execution date but took no further action.

The order, that the state’s motion to set an execution was “not well taken and should be denied”, was unanimous, joined by all justices, and was signed by Justice Coleman.  Here it is.

Still […]

Michelle Byrom: What kind of representation did she have, Part 4: The Context for Michelle Byrom’s Ineffectiveness Claim

After Michelle Byrom lost her direct appeal, the next stage of her case was handled by the Office of Post-Conviction counsel.  Their job was to investigate possible claims that her conviction or death sentence was improper.  The most important claim they developed was that Byrom’s original lawyers had been ineffective in investigating and trying […]

Michelle Byrom–What kind of representation did she have? Part 3: Every kind of waiver you can imagine

With all due respect to Byrom’s counsel, whose intentions were no doubt admirable, the brief that was filed on her behalf falls below what I consider professionally acceptable. The recurring failure of Byrom’s counsel to adequately brief issues is a factor I have considered in concluding that Byrom’s counsels’ performance was deficient. Throughout […]

Michelle Byrom–What kind of representation did she have? Part 2: How closely decided were the cases?

Michelle Byrom had a direct appeal, a post conviction appeal, a decision by a federal judge on habeas, and a decision by the Fifth Circuit on habeas.  She filed certiorari petitions in the United States Supreme Court.

You will frequently see proponents of death sentences count up the judges involved in the process and […]

Michelle Byrom–What kind of representation did she have? Part 1: They pretty much did nothing

I’ve been thinking and reading about the Michelle Byrom case, and my reaction is complicated.  The evidence of her innocence is, from a lawyer’s perspective, equivocal, about which I will post more later.  But the evidence of whether she had due process– a fair trial– is absolutely clear.  Her lawyers were grossly incompetent, and […]

Ethics complaint filed against Fifth Circuit Judge Edith Jones

Update:  Here’s the Compliant against Judge Edith Jones.  In addition to raising issues from her talk at the University of Pennsylvania, it raises the time she told her Fifth Circuit colleague Judge James Dennis to shut up.  The exhibits aren’t included with the PDF i posted, but if you want to here the minute-plus exchange between Judges Jones and Dennis, it’s here.  The tape is better than any transcript would be.

The Austin Chronicle is reporting an ethics complaint filed against Fifth Circuit judge Edith Jones for remarks at a University of Pennsylvania School of Law talk billed as “Federal Death Penalty Review with Judge Edith Jones.”

Those who are familiar with the topic probably thought on reading the title:  Well, that’s going to be a short talk.”

The Chronicle writes:

A complaint filed today by several civil rights groups, including one funded entirely by the government of Mexico, alleges that federal Judge Edith Jones has violated her duty to be impartial and damaged the public’s confidence in the judiciary, in statements she made in a public lecture – including that blacks and Hispanics are more violent.

Indeed, Jones also said that a death sentence provides a public service by allowing an inmate to “make peace with God.”

Jones, who sits on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals – based in New Orleans, its jurisdiction includes Texas – made numerous offensive and biased comments during a February lecture at the University of Pennsylvania School of Law, according to the complaint filed pursuant to the federal Judicial Conduct and Disability Act. The complaint, filed by the Texas Civil Rights ProjectAustin NAACP, the League of United Latin American Citizens(LULAC), and the Mexican Capital Legal Assistance Program (among others) alleges that during her talk – billed as “Federal Death Penalty Review with Judge Edith Jones (5th Cir.)” – Jones violated a number of canons of the code of conduct for federal judges.

Continue reading Ethics complaint filed against Fifth Circuit Judge Edith Jones