Hearings continued in Vaughn DUI case

Staff Writer

Two hearings in the DUI case against Ward 7 Alderman Henry Vaughn were postponed Tuesday morning until early February in Oktibbeha County Circuit Court.
Judge Lee Coleman granted a continuance at the request of special prosecutor George Mitchell, who is beginning a court term in the 5th Judicial District as an appointed judge.
A hearing on two motions filed by Vaughn’s attorney, Ward 6 Alderman Roy A. Perkins, was scheduled for Tuesday. Perkins previously filed a motion to dismiss Mitchell’s appeal of a directed verdict of “not guilty” issued by Oktibbeha County Justice Court Judge in the Vaughn case last September. In that motion, Perkins argues there is not jurisdiction for an appeal of a not guilty verdict from Justice Court and the appeal would represent double jeopardy against Vaughn. Perkins is also seeking payment of attorney’s fees from Oktibbeha County because the prosecutor was appointed by the Board of Supervisors.
Last week, Perkins filed a motion to have Mitchell removed as special prosecutor in the Vaughn case because Mitchell was appointed by Governor Phil Bryant to serve as a judge in the 5th Judicial District last month. Mitchell will serve in that role until an election is held for the seat in November. Perkins said in his motion that having Mitchell serve as a judge and a prosecutor violates the doctrine of separation of powers.
“A Prosecutor is in the Executive Branch of government and a Circuit Court Judge is in the Judicial Branch of government,” Perkins wrote. “Both positions exercise core powers. Therefore, to serve in both positions would result in an apparent violation of the Separation of Powers’ provision of Article 1, Section 2 of the Mississippi Constitution of 1890, as amended.”
Hearings on both motions are now expected to take place the first week of February. Both Perkins and Coleman said they wanted the matter taken care of sooner rather than later. A continuance was granted last fall while Mitchell dealt with health issues.
Mitchell is also the special prosecutor in the pending simple assault case against Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District Superintendent Lewis Holloway.