Members of Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny Dupree's administration, and most recently members of the city’s municipal court staff,
have engaged in unethical behavior, criminal behavior, financial malfeasance and/or negligence. The most recent INTERNAL investigation (there have been several) began after a July 24th complaint was filed alleging that inappropriate conduct may be occurring in the Hattiesburg municipal court.
A release from the police department stated, “The investigation confirmed that several employees of the court were receiving rewards for dismissing tickets, fines and warrants for defendants," The release went on to say, "The investigation also confirmed there was inappropriate conduct between judges and court clerks.” (The Hattiesburg Patriot obtained the actual internal affairs investigation report which can be see here.)
TRANSLATION? Employees of the courts conspired with alleged criminals to make things disappear for BRIBES, and ALLEGEDLY (need to get that in there) certain judge(s) were engaging in inappropriate activity with clerks. The Hattiesburg Patriot has confirmed that during the investigation, at least one judge was asked about hugging, kissing, and OTHER inappropriate contact with court staff. Some people may say, “So what?”, but this type of unprofessional behavior with staff of the court could compromise the integrity of our court system and likely already has. It was also confirmed that judges were signing blank court documents for court clerks to fill out at their discretion. It was also reported that judges' dispositions were also being doctored by court clerks in order to allow defendants out of jail or to reduced fine amounts.
What’s sickening about the internal affairs investigation is that it potentially creates a barrier to true justice. If investigators didn’t warn the persons being interviewed that “anything they can and will be used against you in a court of law” and threatened them with losing their jobs for not answering; then anything told to internal affairs investigators is tantamount to coercion of self incrimination. This could be a violation of the 5th amendment and not admissible in a criminal prosecution. So, the questions out there are: (1) Should the investigators be investigated for competence if people who committed crimes cannot be prosecuted? (2) Should the police department have backed off and handed the investigation to an independent, outside agency once the magnitude of the problem was discovered? (3) Is this justice for the citizens of Hattiesburg?
What is obvious to many is this investigation should have been handled by either:
(1) The state Auditor’s Office
(2) The Attorney General’s and in particular Mr. Tony Green in the AGs office is investigating this
(3) The District Attorney’s - Could not be reached for comment
Here is a list of code of conduct violations with real world translations. Notice how the original violations have such a sanitized ring to them.
Truthfulness violations LYING and Failing a Polygraph
Assisting criminals SHREDDING WARRANTS and FIXING TICKETS
Unbecoming conduct DOING WHAT YOU KNOW YOU SHOULDN’T but not breaking the law.
Improper association clerks and/or employees fraternizing and/or ALLEGEDLY engaging in inappropriate behavior. So far, no judges have been named in the investigation, but apparently all three are leaving the court.
Withholding information HIDING THE TRUTH or possibly exercising their right not to self incriminate
Improper criticism INTIMIDATING people who cooperate with investigators, to cover their back side.
Incompetence STUPID AS HELL OR JUST DON’T CARE
Improper reward-related TAKING BRIBES TO MAKE THINGS GO AWAY
Debts incurring payments Not too sure on this
I want to add that Chief Bolton deserves praise for releasing these finding s to the media. It was reported that there is a rift between Mayor Dupree and the Chief over this release to WDAM. Sources tell the Hattiesburg Patriot that the Mayor wanted to release a sanitized version of the facts; which came out on WDAM on the September 14th. After all the WHOLE truth is ugly and does reflect negatively on the administration; especially with the other, multiple investigations which have occurred within the administration.
The latest WDAM report said that "City Hall" aka Dupree and "Police" aka Chief Bolton have a "difference of opinion" on the level of criminal activity in the Municipal court. WDAM reported on the executive summary, which is a SANITIZED and UNBELIEVABLE report put out by Mayor Johnny Dupree and city attorney Charles Lawrence, and it cannot not be believed in light of the internal affairs report.
The question, ”Is the Dupree administration is imploding.” There have been several resignations in other departments involving theft of taxpayer resources, and we are breaking an entirely new, unrelated story regarding such theft on Monday. So, stay tuned. Find us on Facebook and Twitter
Please donate $10 to the Hattiesburg Patriot to support our efforts.