September 16, 2010 9:14:00 AM
I have been appalled by the number of reckless comments that have been attached to the story about Quintez Hodges appeal. Some comments border on the hysterical. Some may have been uttered in ignorance. I suspect that more than a few were the product of malice. The comments call for an immediate response.
To begin with, nowhere in Judge Mills'' opinion does it say that anyone "lied". That''s because no one did. What he says is that the testimony, which was given by Jim Kitchens at the sentencing hearing of Quintez Hodges, was "false." There is a great difference between giving false testimony and lying under oath.
I may genuinely believe what I remember to be true, raise my right hand, swear to tell the truth, and testify "falsely." That''s not lying. That''s human. No one who is reading this right now can assert that they''ve never made a similar mistake. That''s what, and all, Jim Kitchens did. He was testifying to events that had occurred at Hodges'' guilty pleas, something you can hold in your hand and actually read. Unfortunately, the transcript of that guilty pleas wasn''t prepared until some six months after Jim Kitchens testified. Consequently, he couldn''t read it to refresh his memory.
What transpired was this: I gave Jim Kitchens, who was an Assistant District Attorney at the time, the files on Quintez Hodges. Hodges had multiple charges, but he was only pleading to one. I asked him to do the guilty plea as I was tied up in a trial in another courtroom and couldn''t do it myself. I felt very strongly about the case, believing Hodges to be dangerous; and I wanted him in the penitentiary if possible. On the way to the courthouse, Jim ran into Scott Rogillio, another Assistant District Attorney, and together they went into the courtroom and handled the plea.
In the event, everything Jim Kitchens testified to was correct except he believed that he was the one who actually stood up in Court and did the plea. The transcript shows that it was Scott; however they were both in the same Courtroom and heard the same thing.
Mills'' other difficulty with Jim Kitchens testimony was that he testified to things that weren''t in the plea transcript. That''s not surprising. We don''t do everything on the record. Conferences with lawyers and witnesses are never on the record; and neither are conferences in chambers with the Judge. These were the very matters that Jim Kitchens was testifying to.
Mills'' opinion never said that I knowingly put on false testimony. I have never done so. Instead, he cited a federal case for the proposition that, and I quote directly from his opinion, "Prosecutors office is a single entity; knowledge of one ADA is attributable to others in the same office," and held that I "should have known" that Jim Kitchens was wrong.
How could I? I wasn''t in the Courtroom when Quintez Hodges raised this very issue. If you''re interested, you can find it in Volume 912 of the Southern Reported 2nd Series on pages 749 et seq. They essentially found that there was no harm and no foul. If they had believed that any perjury had occurred, they would have immediately taken some action.
Judge Mills has now substituted his opinion for theirs. Why he has done so, I will not attempt to explain. When it comes to the Federal Courts, there are a lot of things I can''t explain. So no, nobody has been charged with Perjury. That''s because nobody lied.
stormy commented at 9/16/2010 7:04:00 PM:
Keep up the good work Forrest and Jim!!
truth commented at 9/17/2010 1:57:00 PM:
I once had much respect for you and defended you against others who claimed you were an extremist with serious emotional issues that were affecting your ability to make sound judgements as our legal representative. I defended you against those who claimed problems in your personal life made it clear you were unfit for the office you hold. I defended you all these years, and I see now that I was totally wrong. The fact that your response to this serious accusation is to complain about some people who commented on a website is outrageous. Not too apologize to the citizens for your office failing to follow the legal procedure to the letter and making a mistake that calls into question the judiciousness of your office. Instead you decided to do a lot of rationalizing, like a common criminal. I thought you were a better man than "How could I? I wasn't in the courtroom". We elected you to be accountable not to make lame excuses. I cannot believe your cowardice.
walter commented at 9/17/2010 3:37:00 PM:
Based on a very thorough study of the law of perjury and after conferring with a personal friend, who once practiced law in Mississippi, the reported facts surrounding the Hodges case, relative to the testimony of then, assistant D.A. Kitchen, are woefully insufficient to even think about presenting the matter to a grand jury!
Kitchen, and all of the other prosecutors throughout Mississippi, thanks to a spineless, visionless, hypocritical legislature, were so overwhelmed with petty drug cases, few, if any of them, had adequate time to even verify whether their asses were even still attached to their bodies! Despite the gravity of his testimony, Judge (ADA) Kitchen was mistaken due to the heavy case-load assigned to him and his determination to carryout the wishes of his supervisor and the legislature, who had won election on a campaign of being tougher on crime, rather than smarter, than their opponent!
It is next to impossible for the prosecutors within the state to devote the proper amount of time needed to curb serious crimes, when the demand from the politicians is to generate numbers; numbers, regardless of the pettiness of the crime.
Jim Kitchen should not be the fall-guy for a legislature that is becoming increasingly less-filled with men and women capable of thinking independently and progressively for the benefit of the people of Mississippi. As unfortunate as what transpired might be for all involved, Judge Kitchen's conduct does not rise to the level to warrant a charge of perjury. It is human to make a mistake and A.D.A.'s are human, too. A massive case-load will tend to cause many of them to make mistakes. Unnecessary laws will guarantee that there will always be massive case-load, especially since the public resist paying taxes to hire additional A.D.A.'s to prosecute the cases.
We cannot have our cake and eat it, too. Judge Kitchen was merely trying as diligently as he knew how to measure up to society's expectation. He's representative of many others in the same position he was in. If similar mistakes are to be avoided, society must be willing to make an honest assessment of things and have the courage and integrity to change it's attitude and policies. Hopefully, it'll happen in Mississippi sooner, rather than later. We do not need Texas' guilt of putting to death numerous human-beings, who the world now now, were guilty of no crime, whatsoever.
crunky commented at 9/17/2010 11:35:00 PM:
Only a lawyer could twist words around enough to say that "testifying falsely" is not the same as "telling a lie".
Methinks the lady doth protest too much.
This DA, whether he likes it or not, is going to find out what it's like to go to prison. We've seen him dish it out. let's see him take it.
thenewpower commented at 9/18/2010 10:31:00 AM:
bulldog99 commented at 10/12/2010 3:08:00 PM:
Jim Kitchens and Judge Howard are pretty terrible people in my opinion but Forrest Allgood is the biggest idiot of them all. District 16 is corrupt and a Joke Among this State. I pray Allgood and Kitchens get everything they deserve for "testifying falsely" also known as lying. Remember everybody that Kitchens is up for Re-eletion Nov 2nd and William Stark is running against him. William Stark has my vote and I thank him for trying to bring sensible policy to Starkville and the rest of district 16
2. Our View: Why tonight's state senate debate matters to us all DISPATCH EDITORIALS
3. Voice of the people: Raymond Gross LETTERS TO THE EDITOR (VOICE@CDISPATCH.COM)
5. Leonard Pitts: Holding memories for Aunt Millie NATIONAL COLUMNS