Grand jury’s decision on Hosemann on hold

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 19, 2002

[04/19/02]A Hinds County grand jury has finished hearing evidence in criminal cases, but its decisions will remain under wraps, apparently through the weekend.

Earlier this week, Assistant District Attorney Robert Taylor said the assault case against Warren County Judge Gerald Hosemann had been presented to the 18-member jury.

This morning, Taylor would say only that no information has been released on any indictments returned.

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A spokesman in the Hinds County Circuit Clerk’s Office in Raymond said no arraignment session had been scheduled.

Under court procedures, grand jurors meet behind closed doors and hear only evidence against accused people. If they decide there’s enough evidence to merit a trial, they issue an indictment, which formalizes the accusation.

Indictments remain secret until an accused appears before a judge for a formal reading, called an arraignment. Grand juries can also issue “no bills” that effectively dismiss charges or pass them back for further investigation.

Hosemann, 50, was charged with aggravated assault after Hinds County Sheriff’s Department officials interviewed Juanita “Nita” Johnston, a former court reporter in Hosemann’s office.

Johnston, 48, was found Dec. 6 injured on land Hosemann owns in Hinds County near Utica.

In mid-March, however, Johnston said in letters to officials and in multiple interviews that she had gone to a mobile home on the property with Hosemann, but that she did not believe Hosemann hurt her, that she did not know who did and that she may have injured herself. She also dropped a civil lawsuit demanding the return of money and property, including a horse, she said Hosemann had retained from their relationship. In his answer, Hosemann had denied owing her the items and said she owed him money for boarding the horse.

Hinds authorities responded to Johnston by refusing to drop the charge, as she had requested, and instead, presenting it to the grand jury that convened Monday.

Hosemann has remained free on a $25,000 bond since he was arrested Dec. 28.