Hosemann information given to grand jury

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 16, 2002

[04/16/02]Warren County Court Judge Gerald Hosemann should learn within days whether a Hinds County grand jury wants him to stand trial.

Eighteen citizens were convened Monday and have a light docket, an official said.

“The case was presented,” was the only comment Assistant District Attorney Robert Taylor made.

Grand juries meet in secret and consider the evidence against those accused of crimes. If they find evidence is sufficient to merit a trial, they issue an indictment that can lead to a public trial. They can also issue a “no bill,” meaning evidence was insufficient, or they can pass the case along to a new term.

Hosemann, 50 and on the Warren County bench since 1986, was arrested Dec. 28 after Hinds sheriff’s deputies interviewed Juanita “Nita” Johnston in the hospital room where she was being treated for abdominal and other injuries.

Last month, however, in a letter to Hosemann’s attorney and in several public statements, Johnston said Hosemann, for whom she had worked as a court reporter, was not responsible for her injuries and that his reputation should be restored.

Taylor and other court officials and investigators are under a gag order and barred from comment about the pending charges.

Taylor did say that the caseload was light with 10 drug charges, the charges against Hosemann and a few other cases to be considered. He said he expected the grand jury to finish quickly this week.

Normally, grand jury indictments are announced only after indicted people are called in on their bonds. Hosemann was released under $25,000 bond on the aggravated assault charge authorities left in place despite Johnston’s statement. No bills are announced when a grand jury adjourns.

Hosemann has maintained his innocence since Johnston was found on his ranch property in Hinds County on the morning of Dec. 6. Johnston, 48, spent a month in Vicksburg and Jackson hospitals recovering from her injuries and now uses a walker since leaving the hospital. She said she loves Hosemann, who is married but seeking a divorce, has for many years and does not believe he would hurt her.

Johnston says the two went to the property on Dec. 4, but argued and he left. She said she then drank heavily and took pills and does not remember how she was injured or how she became dressed in different clothes and leaning against a tree outside a mobile home on the property. She also said the clothes she was wearing that night are missing and she doesn’t know what happened to them.

Hosemann has remained on the bench despite calls from the attorney general to step down pending a resolution in the case. On March 19, Hosemann announced that he would retire at the end of that month, but he rescinded that four days before it was to have taken effect.

Hosemann has not said if he will seek re-election this November. He has had no opposition in his four previous bids for county judge starting after he was in private practice 10 years.

At least three others have said they plan to seek the $94,000 job. Robert C. Arledge, 44, and Clarence A. Whitaker, 59, have filed to run for the position. Warren County Prosecuting Attorney Johnny Price, 55, has also said he plans to seek the office.