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Judge delays ruling on DUI cases

[7/26/03]A judge appointed to hear 16 DUI cases dismissed by former Warren County Judge Gerald Hosemann said Friday he will decide next month whether the cases will be reinstated.

Hosemann dismissed the cases on Dec. 10, weeks before the end of his elected term after finishing fifth in a five-person field in his bid for re-election. He dismissed the cases, he said, because the cases were set for trial and Johnny Price, then-Warren County prosecuting attorney, was not in court.

Angered, Price, who had won the election to replace Hosemann on the county bench, said he had informed the court he could not be present because he was required to attend a four-day conference for newly elected judges.

In Warren County Court Friday, Judge Joe Webster, who introduced himself as a senior status judge who had served as Coahoma County Court judge for 20 years, heard testimony from Price and arguments from Wren Way and Mark Prewitt, Vicksburg attorneys representing some of the 16 DUI defendants, and from Marcie Tanner Southerland, county prosecutor.

After, Webster said he wanted Way, Prewitt and Marshall Sanders, the attorney for other defendants, to send him any citations they thought relevant but he did not want briefs.

“I will return here Aug. 22 and I will have an order containing my ruling,” Webster said.

Way said the first case called on Dec. 10 was that of his client and that he arrived in court ready for trial.

“I think it was a legal dismissal and the case should remain dismissed,” Way said.

He also said double jeopardy could also be argued in the case.

In testimony brought out by Southerland, Price told Webster he was certain Hosemann was aware of his mandatory attendance at the judicial conference.

He also said the tickets issued to each of the defendants ordered them to appear for an arraignment and that he had no trials set for Dec. 10.

Webster said he must consider if someone was not present in court willfully or negligently.

Contacted after Friday’s court action, Hosemann, who was suspended by the state Supreme Court for the last two days of his term because of the dismissals, said he did not know what had happened in court.

He made no other comments.