One of My Saddest Days
Last Tuesday was one of the saddest days I've ever experienced as an attorney. My client died at the hands of the State of Mississippi, and it wasn't an execution. He died as a pre-trial detainee in a death-trap jail pod in the Hinds County Detention Center.
My client was one of the most patient people I've known. He was in jail since 2012 on an armed carjacking case and subsequent probation violation hold (pending the resolution of the underlying case-which was supposed to be dismissed). All along, he maintained his innocence, and I fought for him. My investigator and I provided the prosecutors with several alibi statements showing that my client was not at the scene of the alleged crime. His co-defendant, who committed the crime alone (as shown by the evidence), even gave a statement stating my client had nothing to do with the crime. Although he later attempted to recant, the co-defendant was killed several months ago–while in the commission of another armed carjacking. Go figure.
Knowing all that, I set my client’s case for trial every trial setting. Because it was a "little car theft," it only made it to the trial docket once. But it was quickly passed over due to a “more serious crime” being set before it. I was even told by the prosecutor that he didn't have time to discuss the case with me. (I put his words verbatim in a motion to dismiss for lack of prosecution, which of course was denied). My client sat and sat. But he was patient. I guess it was because he had faith in me. I once asked him why, and he said he know he didn't do anything, and with the time he was sitting, it was allowing him time to think. In his exact words, “I’m cool. I’m just chillin’.”
Monday night I read that there was a riot at the poorly managed jail. Not surprising. But Tuesday I learned it was him, my client. I cried. He wasn't supposed to be there. He should have been home in 2012. I called his mom and she thanked me for working on his case and for him. She sounded strong, but said that she has been told her son was beaten so badly that he's no longer recognizable, all because of the system.
I write this to tell my client’s story, a story that will never be told as promised by our State and Federal Constitutions. Simply because he chose to exercise his right to tell his story, he died a violent, horrible death. He was only 21. This system is horribly broken, and I hope this letter will inspire you all to keep fighting these horrible injustices–before another life is lost senselessly.