|NMU||MISSISSIPPI||Secret Courts||Oct 19, 2000|
State A.G. faces contempt complaint for violating gag order
- The state Supreme Court will decide whether the attorney general violated a gag order in a murder trial when he publicly called the accused a “danger to the community.”
Mississippi’s Attorney General, Mike Moore, has been accused of violating a gag order issued in a murder trial, and the state high court will decide if he is guilty of contempt of court.
The gag order was issued by Holmes County Judge Jannie Lewis in the trial of 17-year-old Elliot Culp. Culp was charged with numerous crimes in the Feb. 28 beating of Allen Scott, who died from the injuries. Culp was also accused of raping and assaulting Scott’s girlfriend.
Although a local district attorney, not Moore, prosecuted Culp, the attorney general filed a petition with the Mississippi Supreme Court in June asking the court to revoke a $350,000 bond for Culp.
After filing the petition, Moore spoke to the press and said, “I believe that this man is a danger to the community. The evidence is very strong that he committed this crime and he should not be walking the street.”
Culp’s attorney, Chokwe Lumumba, thought that Moore’s statements violated the gag order and filed a motion to hold the attorney general in contempt. Lewis asked the state Supreme Court to decide the motion.
Moore argued he should not be held in contempt because the gag order applies only to parties in the trial and he claimed not to be a party. The state high court will decide whether Moore became a party when he asked the court to revoke Culp’s bail bond.
Moore’s attorney, Don Barrett, argued that the judge should lift the gag order because it was too broad. The judge said Moore subjected himself to the gag order by assisting the district attorney prosecuting the case.
(People v. Culp) — AG
© 2000 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press