Assistant prosecutor secretly taped DA accused of aiding criminal defendant

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An assistant prosecutor secretly taped conversations with a Mississippi district attorney accused of conspiring to aid a criminal defendant, according to transcripts filed in court on Tuesday.

The lawyer for District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith of Hinds County says his client didn’t implicate himself in the conversations, but tape transcripts should nonetheless be excluded as evidence, the Jackson Clarion-Ledger reports.

If the transcripts are allowed, says a motion by Smith’s lawyer Jim Waide, the court should exclude profanity and the N-word from the transcripts. Smith is black.

On the tape, Smith discusses the case against Christopher Butler, the defendant he is accused of helping. Smith believed Mississippi law enforcement officials planted drugs in a raid on the home of Butler’s girlfriend, according to the Clarion-Ledger.

Smith says on the tape he developed his views after a visit to his office by Butler’s then-lawyer. “It’s just unfair. I see what it is,” Smith said on the tape. “I had to assure him that I wasn’t going to prosecute this guy, because, I mean, it was just wrong.”

Later, the assistant DA recording the conversation asks Smith about the “big picture” and his goal with regard to Butler’s cases. “I’m going to get Weill next,” Smith says, apparently referring to a local judge.

“See, I—let me show you what I’m talking about. But, see, this whole system, like I said, they’ve been just f****** over and make—you know, like—like we just f****** weak and this and that. F*** that. … . I just had the wrong idea when I got in office. I thought everybody was going to work together and this and that,” he said.

Smith also says on the tape that he had asked Waide to look into a civil case for Butler. The state attorney general’s office is using that reference in a bid to disqualify Waide as Smith’s lawyer.

The assistant DA who made the tapes pleaded guilty in July to conspiracy to lower the bonds of criminal defendants in exchange for money.

Smith was originally facing misdemeanor charges for allegedly aiding Butler and another defendant, but those charges were dropped in September before the filing of a new felony indictment. It accuses Smith of conspiring with an assistant district attorney to hinder prosecution of Butler, according to a prior Clarion-Ledger story.

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