Contempt of court not upheld

Published 11:08 pm Saturday, April 18, 2009

A motion for contempt of court filed by attorney Glenn White against the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department and Chief Investigator Donnie Saucier was dismissed Friday by Circuit Court Judge Pentiss Harrell.

The motion stated that the Sheriff’s Department was holding certain items that should have been returned to White’s client, Kathleen Taylor. Taylor was arrested in July 2008 for four counts of sale of a controlled substance, possession of counterfeit currency and possession of a schedule IV substance with intent to distribute.

Items listed in the motion included several firearms, currency, and various documents such as tax returns.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

During the hearing, a number of the items listed were described as being in dispute as to whether the department actually took them, such as containers of loose change, a coin counting machine, jewelry and a wallet. Harrell decided that the weapons on the list will not be returned to Taylor but will be given to a court-appointed trustee, who will decide whether to sell them or not. District Attorney Hal Kittrell said the firearms will not be returned to Taylor since her bond contains that stipulation.

After some more discussion between Harrell, White and the District Attorney’s office, Harrell decided not to uphold the contempt of court motion against the Sheriff’s Department and Saucier and also denied White’s request to be reimbursed for his attorney fees. White then called for a proffer to bring Saucier on the stand to testify whether a handwritten list of items, which was presented to the court and District Attorney’s office for the first time Friday, had been given to Taylor by the Sheriff’s Department. Assistant District Attorney Lauren Barnes said after looking at the list that it was not valid, since it was not signed or dated. Harrell made a decision to not accept the handwritten list presented by White.

White pressed for his proffer, which after a short recess so Harrell could research the matter, was granted. After calling Saucier to the stand, White showed him the handwritten list of items. Saucier said the list was not in his handwriting or, to his knowledge, that of any of his staff. White asked who wrote it, to which Saucier guessed it could have been Taylor.

White then asked Saucier to look at a list of items that had been alleged to have been seized in the search. Saucier looked at the paper handed to him by White then said. “You just handed me a photo copy of some keys.” White then took the paper from Saucier and showed him another page of the document, then asked where was a itemized list of miscellaneous papers. Saucier said such an itemized list did not exist.

After White approached Saucier too closely a number of times during his questioning, Harrell asked White to keep his distance from Saucier.

White continued to address the fact that no itemized list of the miscellaneous documents seized in the search existed, to which Harrell said that the point had been made that every item should be listed. It was established that the bag of miscellaneous documents was in the possession of the Sheriff’s Department and that an itemized list of those documents will be drawn up by the District Attorney’s office and the Sheriff’s Department. The list will be presented to the court on April 28, in Lamar County.

Sheriff David Allison said he was pleased with the out come of the hearing since the court saw that White’s motion was not valid and dismissed it. Shane Tucker said the items listed in the motion that were in dispute were not taken by the Sheriff’s Department during the search. As for the miscellaneous documents, an itemized list of those items will be drawn up.

“Every time you go to trial, you learn something new that helps you be better at your job,” Tucker said. “We need to be more detailed.”

“I think all that’s left is to identify those miscellaneous items and produce what the judge instructs us to produce,” Kittrell said.

Kittrell said it was never the intention of the Sheriff’s Department or the District Attorney’s office to withhold information.

Early in March White was arrested by the Sheriff’s Department on the charge of bribing a state witness in conjunction with a case against bonding agency owner Anita Carol Pearson.