DeLaughter puts limits on evidence in today’s court hearing

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 20, 2002

[02/20/02]Evidence expected in today’s hearing for Warren County Judge Gerald Hosemann will be limited by an order Hinds County Judge Bobby DeLaughter filed Tuesday.

In addition, DeLaughter’s prehearing ruling makes clear that even if he dismisses an aggravated assault charge against Hosemann, the case will still be prosecuted. And, in a separate document, DeLaughter tells lawyers and investigators in the case to start following a rule that limits their comments to the press and public.

The hearing for Hosemann, 49, was set after his attorney filed a motion alleging the Vicksburg judge’s Dec. 28 arrest on a felony charge of beating his former court reporter was based on false information provided by law enforcement officers. The motion also alleges that Juanita “Nita” Johnston was drunk and drugged and injured herself.

Johnston, 47, was found injured on Hosemann’s Hinds County property Dec. 6 and spent more than a month in hospitals in Vicksburg and Jackson.

In statements to Hinds County deputies, Johnston identified Hosemann as her assailant and one of the deputies, Pamela Turner, filed a sworn affidavit upon which DeLaughter issued the arrest warrant.

For today’s unusual hearing, DeLaughter ruled that three of the eight issues raised by Jackson attorney William Kirksey may be addressed.

DeLaughter’s order also says that even if he finds Kirksey’s allegations true, the case can still be presented to a Hinds County grand jury, which will decide whether Hosemann, a judge in county and youth courts since 1976, will face a felony indictment and possible trial.

DeLaughter said he will allow evidence on whether:

Johnston made conflicting statements about who injured her, and whether Turner knew of these contrary statements when she presented arrest warrant documents to DeLaughter.

Johnston injured herself.

Johnston was coherent when she told authorities that Hosemann did not attack her.

Kirksey had asked to provide testimony that:

Johnston was not bruised over 90 percent of her body, as stated in the general affidavit, and that her hands and feet were not tied.

Her “medical problems were as a result of the alcohol and drugs taken, exposure to the elements not from any beating … and that none of her injuries were life threatening but were superficial.”

DeLaughter dismissed those offers, given that regardless of their validity, other aspects of the arrest warrant provide enough cause to suspect Hosemann and arrest him.

The Hinds County Sheriffs Department has reported the investigation ongoing and the case file incomplete in advance of today’s hearing in the Hinds County Courthouse in Jackson. If it is to be heard by a grand jury scheduled for April 15, the file must be forwarded to the district attorney’s office by March 5.

Hosemann has maintained he is innocent of the charges.

He was released from the Hinds County Detention Center Dec. 29 on $25,000 bond issued by DeLaughter. The release was contingent on numerous factors, including that Hosemann stay at least 500 feet from Johnston and that he attend an anger-management program.

He remains on the bench despite a request from the state attorney general that he be removed until the charges are resolved.

DeLaughter, without a request from Kirksey or prosecutors, also issued an order that attorneys, law enforcement officials and court personnel should not be offering their opinions of the case or discussing Hosemann’s performance on any examinations or tests with the media.

Kirksey released the results of a polygraph exam Hosemann took soon after he was released from jail, saying it showed his client was innocent. Polygraph test results cannot be used as evidence in court.