Law Enforcement at its Worse

Jackson County Mississippi Sheriff, James Michael Byrd, A/K/A Mike Byrd, was indicted Thursday, August 29, 2013 on Multi-Count Indictment 2013-10,516 (3) of 31 counts of wrongdoing as follows:







Hindering Prosecution in the 2nd Degree


Tampering with a Witness




Subordination of Perjury


Intimidating an Officer in the Discharge of his Duties







Sheriff Byrd was in his fourth consecutive, four-year, term as Sheriff of Jackson County. Jackson County Sheriff’s Department with 200 employees is the largest law enforcement organization in the county and completely under the supervision and management of Sheriff Byrd.

Jackson County has an estimated 2012 population of 140,000 with top three estimates of 73.5% white, 22.1% Black or African American and 4.9 percent Hispanic or Latino. The population split in this one county is considerably different than the population in the State of Mississippi as a whole, which is estimated to be 59.9% white, 37.4% Black or African American and 2.9% Hispanic or Latino. The residents in Jackson County have a median household income for the period of 2007-2011 of $49,620 compared to the entire State of Mississippi with a median income of $38,718.

Is there anything in the statistics that provides a clue as to why this particular sheriff went from enforcing the law to breaking the law? Probably nothing other than the fact he had been in a position of power for so very long and considered himself ‘above the law’.

We are supposedly all innocent until proven guilty, but the fact of the matter is the only time a person can be found innocent is if they have the funds available to hire a top notch lawyer. If they don’t, then they are going to plea bargain and they may not be found guilty of the original charge, but they will be found guilty of a lesser charge.

Apparently, according to Byrd’s attorney, Joe Sam Owen, Sheriff Byrd will not be resigning from the office of Sheriff of Jackson County and I find that turn of events totally disgusting. If this sheriff had only been charged with one or two minor crimes I suppose his reluctance to leave office would be acceptable, but he wasn’t. He was charged with 31 major counts and certainly shouldn’t be in charge of law enforcement in Jackson County MS.

Jackson County judges recused themselves from this case and the Mississippi Supreme Court appointment a retired Hinds County Circuit Judge, Judge William F. Coleman, to preside.

More than likely this is going to turn into another circus event similar to former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner who refused to resign and held out for an agreement where the city of San Diego would pay his legal fees, as well as pay any settlement charges assessed against him (with the exception of punitive damages).

What kind of a country have we become that an elected official not only feels they have the right to break the law, but also feel the people that elected him/her to office should foot the bill for legal costs associated with their illegal behavior?

© 2013 Patricia L Johnson




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