Good News! The Mississippi Supreme Court reinstated Mr. Shelton to the practice of law based on a record that the Court itself not only described as "replete with substantial and compelling evidence which justifies Shelton's immediate reinstatement," but also indicated that Mr. Shelton had been the victim of "serious and perhaps even criminal acts by others."
When I wrote "Nifonging in Mississippi: Mississippi Supreme Court, Right 11-Year Wrong NOW!," I did it because the Nifonging of attorney J. Keith Shelton had been despicable and the truth deserved to be publicized, but I did not mention the connection of the sickening story to the presidential election because I did not know of it.
Then James Jennings, Jr., Mr. Shelton's client, emailed me: "You are aware that Judge Patton and his wife, Johnnie, are the key persons and fund raiders for Obama in Mississippi?"
I was aware the Senator Obama was one of the very few public officials who had called for a federal investigation of the Duke case, a point in his favor for which I publicly praised him, and that he has some frightening Kenyan connections, points against him, but I did not know anything about him being politically connected to the Pattons of Hinds County, Mississippi.
Mr. Shelton was pleased with my article (no surprise, especially with the old media ignoring the story) as well as interested in giving credit to Faye Peterson, the(black) district attorney who did the right thing by him when she reached a position in which she could do so. Even more satisfying to Mr. Shelton and the rest of us who want justice to prevail at all times is the fact that the Mississippi Supreme Court did, indeed, reinstate Mr. Shelton to the practice of law this past Friday. (Hat tip to Alan Lange at Ya’ll Politics - http://www.yallpolitics.com/images/SheltonReinstatement.pdf )
I invited Mr. Shelton to write me about the price paid by a (black) lady for being just instead of unjust and he did.
"NIFONGING IN MISSISSIPPI: AT WHAT PRICE A HERO?
"It should be noted here that the courageous dismissal of Shelton’s criminal charges, in the face of what Messrs. Taylor and Peterson strongly suspected would likely be serious political retaliation, was a commendable act of non-partisan conscientiousness and adherence to higher principals." (Excerpt from 'Nifonging in Mississippi')
"That racial politics was a substantially huge consideration, if not the driving force, behind the personally and intensely singular-minded actions of Mike Nifong, the now former Democrat Durham County (North Carolina) District Attorney, now disbarred and bankrupt, in wrongfully indicting and thereafter maintaining the prosecution of the Duke Lacrosse Three (Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty, and David Evans) is no longer seriously doubted. 'District Attorney Nifong's actions are perfectly consistent and logical from start to finish, once you see that this case is about Nifong's own career. It was not a question of winning the case. It was a question of winning the election', said Thomas Sowell, in 'The Real Issue at Duke' (posted at Townhall.com on January 2, 2007) of Nifong’s racially inflammatory antics as he sped towards obtaining 'justice' at a snail’s pace in the Duke case. According to one of the factual claims contained in the Duke Three’s civil lawsuit against Nifong and others, during his re-election campaign Mr. Nifong bragged to his campaign manager that the Duke Lacrosse case gave him 'millions' of dollars in free advertising.
"Irrefutable too are the similarities between the Duke Lacrosse (falsely alleged) rape case and the Shelton case in Mississippi, another case of outrageous Nifonging about which Michael Gaynor recently posted. Nifong was an incumbent white Democrat running in a predominately Democratic county with a large African-American bloc of voters – Ed Peters was also an incumbent white Democrat soon to be seeking re-election in a predominantly Democratic district with a large African American bloc of voters. In both cases the alleged victims of the criminal defendants were black; the alleged wrongdoers – white. Both Nifong and Peters threw the entire weight of their offices, along with their law enforcement operatives, behind appearing to provide protection for the suffering minority 'victims', and equally threw the same heavy weight against the actually innocent criminal defendant 'wrongdoers'. In both cases, there was sufficient evidence almost immediately, and certainly before indictments were issued in either of the cases, which showed that the stories told by the alleged victims which formed the bases of the criminal charges could not be trusted in the absence of independent corroborating evidence. In both cases, there was no independent corroborating evidence in support of the charges, but there was considerable impeaching and/or exculpatory evidence that either called into serious question the original allegations or outright provided sufficient evidence that tended to establish the defendants' innocence. In both cases, the prosecutors withheld clearly exculpatory evidence from the defendants (in the Shelton case, apparently prompted by the alleged victim himself (Hinds County Court Judge Houston Patton), according to the tribunal’s findings of fact and conclusions of law in the case In Re Petition of J. Keith Shelton For Reinstatement to the Practice of Law (Miss. S.C. 2005-BR-2366). In the blog, folo, cited in 'Nifonging in Mississippi,' Lotus did an outstanding follow-up job discrediting any notion in the Shelton case that Ed Peters and his staff suffered from mere ineptitude and clearly showed that they had to have intentionally and willfully ignored the fact that clearly exculpatory evidence existed, and pretty much showed that there was sufficient evidence in the law enforcement tapes to point to the very nature of exculpatory evidence. (Hat’s still off to you, Lotus – 'Shelton: the mother of all WTFs' http://folo.wordpress.com/2008/02/05/shelton-the-mother-of-all-wtfs/).
"In June of 2007, Mr. Gaynor wrote a commentary about a Washington Post article written by George Washington University Law School Professor Jonathan Turley entitled 'Lots of Prosecutors Go Too Far. Most Get Away With It' ('Duke Case Involved Societal Prosecutorial Misconduct,' June 25, 2007)). The subject of Professor Turley’s article was the Duke Lacrosse case and the then-soon-to-be demise of Michael Nifong. Professor Turley: 'Nifong's disbarment may deter some prosecutorial abuse, but until less visible cases are subjected to more scrutiny, it may prove to be an isolated event — driven by the same publicity that led to the abuse in the first place. If the case hadn't been so high-profile, it's doubtful that Nifong would have been charged, let alone disbarred, for his misconduct. The Duke case should teach us that a truly fair criminal justice system must strive to protect the rights of the accused as vigorously as it does those of the accuser.'
"The Shelton case should be just as high profile, but too sadly, it’s not. Mississippi’s 'paper of record', the Clarion-Ledger, which calls itself 'The State’s Newspaper', published numerous articles highly prejudicial toward myself and my former client, James Jennings, repeatedly portraying the accuser judge (Patton) as the poor victim who just can’t get any justice, and who can’t understand why Shelton 'was still able to practice law.' But that newspaper for some reason could not find its voice now that the truth (unrefuted by the Mississippi Bar at a hearing held on April 12, 2007 in Columbus, Mississippi, and adopted by the Mississippi Supreme Court on March 29th, 2008 in its order for the reinstatement of Shelton’s license to practice) has been revealed: Jennings and Shelton were innocent, yet criminally accused by Patton and knowingly wrongfully persecuted prosecuted by Peters. So too, by all the googling available to me, I’ve yet to find one television station in the central Mississippi area that has mentioned what surely would have been an explosive news story elsewhere.
"Let me double check, here: A sitting judge who was potentially on the receiving end of being called to account for prior civil rights wrongdoings turns the tables on his accuser by accusing his accuser and his attorney of trying to obstruct justice and extorting money from him; then the DA charges the two original accusers with obstructing justice and bribery (most certainly a noteworthy charge with all the Scruggs bribery scandal being reported at every turn). The subsequent DA and her Senior Assistant later dismiss the criminal charges while stating, among other things, that 'a thorough re-examination of the evidence reveals there is substantial doubt as to the ability of the State to carry its burden of proof in a trial. Consequently, the case lacks prosecutive merit. Judicial economy would not be served by taking this case to trial when there exists [sic] such strong doubts as to the merits of the case'. Then when the former attorney seeks to get his license reinstated, the Supreme Court empanels a tribunal which found, after testimony and evidence was introduced and unrefuted by the Mississippi Bar (formerly the attorney’s fiercest opponent to his reinstatement), that the judge had lied to law enforcement officers and the DA’s office when he attempted to turn the tables on the two, and withheld clearly exculpatory evidence, and the DA indicted and maintained the prosecution of the two innocent men when he knew he had no probable cause, and the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance whitewashed its investigation into the goings on when it reported that it had material witness opinions that the accusing judge had done nothing wrong when, in fact, the investigator had never interviewed the material witnesses. By my estimation, aside from the present Scruggs scandals and Katrina recovery/insurance related issues from a couple of years ago, this is the most noteworthy dysjustice related story to come out of Mississippi in a very long time. And the news media remains deafeningly SILENT! Professor Turley, you really know your stuff!
"What is wrong here? Is Mississippi a PC police state, too!?!
"Apparently so, according to Robert Taylor’s memorandum (the one page document that really began the unfolding of just how sordid the Shelton case has really turned out to be). Recall from my prior post that Robert Taylor was the Senior Assistant DA in 2005 who, along with then-DA Fay Peterson, found their consciences and together decided to put an end to the shameful charade of the wrongful prosecution of the two innocent men, dismissing the criminal charges against Shelton and Jennings in November of that year. In that memorandum Robert Taylor says, 'Nothing gets the motors of police and prosecutors so revved up as when the suspect is an attorney. They also get all torqued up when the victim is for instance, a judge. The status of a suspect or a victim has never, can never, and will never add one iota of competent proof of guilt to a criminal case. This is a maxim which in some cases police and prosecutors simply forget.' [Emphasis being Mr. Taylor’s]. Mr. Taylor’s maxim surely appears to be one that, had it been followed in the Duke case, would have allowed that steamrolling train to derail much, much sooner or, more probably, kept it from ever leaving the station."
Thank you, Mr. Shelton.
After my "Nifonging in Mississippi" article appeared, I received email asking why I thought race and politics were relevant to the Shelton story. They SHOULD NOT have been, in my view, but they obviously were. I didn’t inject them into the story, but neither could I rightly ignore them. By stating the obvious, just as the astute Thomas Sowell did, we call to account demagogues who play the race or politics card whenever the status quo of the powerful or influential is questioned or threatened. In my article from last June to which Mr. Shelton referred, I wrote, “the Duke case should teach us that racism begets racism, black racism is as pernicious and debilitating as white racism, the Democrat black bloc vote was too tempting to Mr. Nifong, racial pandering worked for Mr. Nifong and justice in the Duke case was long delayed because Mr. Nifong was not the only one playing racial politics or the only one railroading innocent people.”
At the time I failed to cite the villains in the Nifonging on Mr. Shelton as other egregious examples of integrity-challenged opportunists using hatred and prejudice and partisanship to achieve personal success at unimaginable costs to innocent persons.
I plead ignorance!
But NOT willful ignorance.
Having subsequently learned about the situation, I have given it attention, albeit not the attention it deserves, since I don't have my own newspaper, magazine, or television or radio show.
Racial and political considerations should not be allowed to corrupt the justice system. Persons like Mr. Shelton should not be persecuted for daring to “buck the system” of political correctness and partisanship in order to do the right thing.
Unfortunately, those considerations are real and DA Faye Peterson (who is black) and ADA Robert Taylor (who is white) deserve great respect for putting principle first and those considerations aside.
Mr. Shelton on "the challenge faced by Taylor and Peterson":
"Why else would Robert Taylor have explained in his deposition taken by my attorney Andy Kilpatrick last March that he and Ms. Peterson would go ahead and do the right thing 'and just hope that Judge Patton would forgive us at some place along the line'. Why in the world would anyone ever think that doing the right thing has to be apologized for – or has to be 'forgiven'? That makes no sense. What Robert Taylor was referring to were the potential political and social retributions to which he and Ms. Peterson courageously subjected themselves, knowing that filing those criminal dismissals would begin the process which would expose the truth about a corrupt black public official and his politically motivated henchman, both of which were, and still are, powerful men in Hinds County, Mississippi.
"Which brings me to the main subject of my email--Ms. Faye Peterson. Eleanor Faye Peterson, a Democrat, and a graduate of Jackson State University (Miss.) and Mississippi College School of Law, was first appointed as Hinds County’s District Attorney by then-Gov. Ronnie Musgrove in May 2001 to replace Ed Peters, who retired to enter private practice and her appointment was not over the objection of Mr. Peters. Ms. Peterson, a former assistant DA under Peters herself, was hand-picked for the governor’s consideration over several other assistant DA’s then working for Peters. In accepting the appointment, she became the first African American woman to hold the position as a County’s Chief Prosecutor in the history of the State of Mississippi. She was the youngest of six children of one of the first African-American police officers in the history of the City of Jackson, Mississippi, the state’s capital city.
"In an interview in 2006 Ms. Peterson showed a little something of what she is made. When talking about doing what she thinks is the right thing to do, no matter what, she said, “It’s a different standard. It’s an unfortunate side effect of certain cultural biases, but I don’t let that stop me from doing what I have to do as a prosecutor. The majority of the public in Jackson, thankfully, doesn’t care about gender or race, but you still have a vocal minority that do. There was an attitude before I took office that unless your case was going to get you some newsprint or high profile, they didn’t really care. People in these United States are innocent until proven guilty, and if a person has broken the law we have a method and procedures that have to happen; otherwise they can never be prosecuted, and they can never serve time on that charge. Taking shortcuts puts that ability to prosecute in jeopardy. You can arrest them, but you’ve still got to prove their guilt. These same individuals who approve of these methods will be the first ones who are running over to the D.A.’s office when their relative or loved one is in trouble. They want to throw justice out the window until their family’s in trouble, but it can’t be that way. Justice wears a blindfold for a reason” (Jackson Free Press, May 10, 2006). As is evidenced by her authorization and instruction to Mr. Taylor to dismiss the criminal charges against my client, Mr. Jennings, and me, Ms. Peterson apparently lives by her beliefs and practices her commitment to the oath of an attorney required of her when she was sworn into the profession. For this, Ms. Faye Peterson is a real hero – not of her gender, not of her race, not of her state, but of all humanity; but at what cost has she attempted to so serve her fellow man?
"Ms. Peterson ran as an incumbent in a special election the same year she was first appointed and won on her own merit; and won again in 2003. But not in 2007. What made the difference? For one thing, Ed Peters hand-picked her opponent for the 2007 campaign, Robert Smith, a former public defender, and gave him a strong endorsement, even actively inducing Smith to run for DA after Smith had put his name on the line to help yet a third Democratic contender in the 2007 Democratic primary for the DA’s office. I can’t say for sure what motivated Peters to do such a thing, but I’ll bet Robert Taylor and Faye Peterson have very strong inkling. And I can’t say for sure who Judge Houston Patton’s wife, Johnnie – who just happens to be Barack Obama’s point person in Mississippi and a Democratic National Committee member and Superdelegate, supported in this last Hinds County DA election, but I’ll bet it wasn’t our hero.
"We’ve got to quit asking first “Who’s ox got gored?” Or, “What color was the ox?', and start stating clearly and unequivocally, 'right is right, and wrong is wrong; and color has not cornered the market on either', and then vote into office those who color-blindedly think like we do, and vote out those who prop up and protect the same old, tired, worn-out partisan demagogic identity system." A person is not “right” or to be automatically assumed to be telling the truth because he’s white; but neither is he automatically wrong because he’s white. A person is not “right” or to be automatically assumed to be telling the truth just because he’s black; and neither is he automatically a liar because he’s black. To permit ourselves and other members of our society to think and act otherwise, is to invite a system where wrongdoers can go unpunished, and innocent people suffer in their stead.
Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member.
Gaynor graduated magna cum laude, with Honors in Social Science, from Hofstra University's New College, and received his J.D. degree from St. John's Law School, where he won the American Jurisprudence Award in Evidence and served as an editor of the Law Review and the St. Thomas More Institute for Legal Research. He wrote on the Pentagon Papers case for the Review and obscenity law for The Catholic Lawyer and edited the Law Review's commentary on significant developments in New York law.
The day after graduating, Gaynor joined the Fulton firm, where he focused on litigation and corporate law. In 1997 Gaynor and Emily Bass formed Gaynor & Bass and then conducted a general legal practice, emphasizing litigation, and represented corporations, individuals and a New York City labor union. Notably, Gaynor & Bass prevailed in the Second Circuit in a seminal copyright infringement case, Tasini v. New York Times, against newspaper and magazine publishers and Lexis-Nexis. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed, 7 to 2, holding that the copyrights of freelance writers had been infringed when their work was put online without permission or compensation.
Gaynor currently contributes regularly to www.MichNews.com, www.RenewAmerica.com, www.WebCommentary.com, www.PostChronicle.com and www.therealitycheck.org and has contributed to many other websites. He has written extensively on political and religious issues, notably the Terry Schiavo case, the Duke "no rape" case, ACORN and canon law, and appeared as a guest on television and radio. He was acknowledged in Until Proven Innocent, by Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson, and Culture of Corruption, by Michelle Malkin. He appeared on "Your World With Cavuto" to promote an eBay boycott that he initiated and "The World Over With Raymond Arroyo" (EWTN) to discuss the legal implications of the Schiavo case. On October 22, 2008, Gaynor was the first to report that The New York Times had killed an Obama/ACORN expose on which a Times reporter had been working with ACORN whistleblower Anita MonCrief.