Bob Bryant commentary

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 15, 2011

Guest column by Bob Bryant

Why does Panola have to wait for feds?

Where the heck has Jim Hood been during all of this?

Has it occurred to anyone other than myself that if it were not for the recent federal indictments and on-going investigation by the US Attorney’s Office in Oxford, the corruption in Panola County, political and otherwise, would still be “business as usual”?

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The indictments last month came as a shock to many, but to some they were seen as long overdue. But don’t think for a minute there isn’t more to come. Much more.

Things in Panola County have been amiss for many years. So long in fact (since 2005 that I’m aware of) that the line between right and wrong did not become blurred but obliterated. The only thing that would prevent more indictments would be for the new Assistant U.S. Attorney in Oxford to come in and quash the on-going  investigation — something I don’t see happening.

Felicia Adams of Jackson, with Bennie Thompson’s backing, is President Obama’s current nominee to fill that vacancy.


Of course, most of it could have been dealt with years ago by the state, except for one thing. No, it wasn’t for a lack of people knowing what was taking place, nor for want of honest people that reported it to the proper state agencies. It wasn’t even because no one came to investigate because that was done more than once.

It was because no matter what state agency conducts an investigation there are only two that can proceed with criminal prosecution. That duty falls solely to our local District Attorney’s office or the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office, and herein lies the rub.


At the conclusion of an investigation — whether it involves election fraud, a municipal or county department, an  employee, an elected or appointed official, or a vendor — if there is sufficient finding of wrong doing then it is typically presented to the State Attorney General for criminal prosecution.

However, prosecution is not always forthcoming. Why not?

There can be several legitimate reasons as well as the sad but ever present “political” reasons. I’ve come to believe that we’re in a time and age where it is easier to find reasons not to do a job rather than doing the job.

Here is an area where many lawyers /prosecutors excel. No matter how much evidence, including photos and videos, is presented to them, they always manage to find that small “item” that leads them to decide a case is too weak to take to trial. That “we-can’t-be-assured-of-a-conviction” attitude.

If all decisions in life were based upon waiting for that perfect, 100 percent can’t-miss scenario, little would ever be done. Just how much good, caught-red-handed evidence does it take to make a case? Some of these crimes could have even been dealt with at our local level, but were not.

When the prosecutorial cog of the justice system machine tries to also take on every mindset of defense, judge, and jury you can get ready for a mechanical failure.

Forget waiting for that “perfect” case to come along.

Put together a good, strong, solid case and move forward. We see here in Panola County the results of not doing so. Years of waiting and hoping until finally someone, in this case the U.S. Justice Department, comes along and does the job that could/should have been done at the state level long ago. My suggestion to them last year was simple. Just issue a subpoena duces tecum  (subpoena for production of evidence) to three or four of our state enforcement agencies requesting copies of their investigators notes and files having to do with Panola County. It would probably take a pickup truck to haul it all from Jackson to Oxford but better those investigative files be in Oxford where they’ll be used rather than in Jackson holding down some bureaucrat’s desk.

Thank goodness Columbus, Magellan, Newton, Franklin and others didn’t look at every challenge thru the eyes of people such as Jim Hood or we’d still be living in a world believed to be flat and reading by candlelight.

I’m reminded of the words of the British statesman and philosopher Edmund Burke, “All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.

(Editor’s Note: Bob Bryant was born and raised in Crenshaw. After working for the Shelby County Sheriff’s department for almost three decades, he returned home.)