JACKSON, Miss. — A Hinds County assistant district attorney is trying to have an indictment charging him with hindering prosecution thrown out, saying it doesn’t prove he committed the crime and exceeds the attorney general’s legal power.
Jamie McBride was indicted earlier this month along with Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith on felony charges of hindering prosecution. The indictment obtained by Attorney General Jim Hood’s office charges Smith and McBride with two counts of conspiring to prevent prosecution of Christopher Butler on drug charges. McBride could face 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine if convicted.
In court papers filed Wednesday, lawyer Dale Danks says the indictment against McBride should be thrown out because it presents no proof that McBride gave criminal assistance to Butler. Danks also says Hood had no legal authority to call a grand jury or prosecute a case in Hinds County without authorization from the governor or Smith.
“The indictment fails to allege any actions on McBride’s part that specifically violate the conduct prescribed (in state law),” Danks wrote. “In fact, the indictment doesn’t allege any actions at all other than a vague conclusion that the law has been violated.”
The charges against McBride allege he met with Smith and former Assistant District Attorney Ivon Johnson to discuss the Butler case. Danks said that just because McBride discussed strategy in Butler’s case with Smith doesn’t make him guilty of hindering prosecution, saying it’s up to Smith to push a case ahead or drop it.
“How and in what manner District Attorney Smith chooses to prosecute criminal cases indicted by his office is left to his sole discretion,” Danks wrote, adding that Hood is not Smith’s “boss” and doesn’t get to second-guess his decisions.
Danks’ motion says Hood exceeded his authority in two separate ways: First, he said, Hood is only allowed to convene a special grand jury for drug cases, and shouldn’t have been able to use one to indict McBride. Second, Danks renewed the argument that Hood’s office can only prosecute certain kinds of charges without permission from Smith or written authorization from Gov. Phil Bryant. Danks said hindering prosecution charges aren’t on that list.
Rachel Ring, a spokeswoman for Hood, declined to comment.