Hinds County District Attorney Smith hires high-powered ATL based lawyer

August 2, 2017 in News, Uncategorized

By Othor Cain,






Hinds County District Attorney Robert Schuler Smith, facing his second trial for allegedly attempting to hinder the prosecution of criminal defendant Christopher Butler, has hired Moorehouse graduate Micheal T. Sterling to be a part of his defense team.

Sterling, who just recently became eligible to practice law in Mississippi, is a 2007 summa cum laude graduate of the Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law. Sterling, who served in a number of different capacities in city government in Atlanta, including a stint in the current mayor’s office, is running to become the city’s 60th Mayor.

Sterling, who is taking what he hopes to be a short break from the campaign trail in Atlanta, to lead Smith’s defense efforts, delivered a powerful opening commentary to the jury Tuesday, that was wrought with several objections by the prosecution. Prosecuting attorneys suggested he was offering closing arguments instead of opening statements.

Sterling said the end result, based on evidence presented in this case, would prove that Smith was on a quest for justice and it would highlight the corruption in the criminal justice system, that exists in the Attorney Generals Office. “This is nothing more than a struggle for power,” Sterling said. “In the end, based on what’s presented in this court room, you will have no choice but to find my client not guilty on these charges,” he told the jury.

Relying on memory, Sterling shared with the jury, “that Robert was doing what he was elected to do.”

“My client felt that something was wrong with this case and he didn’t want to make a mistake,” Sterling said. “He was simply trying not to convict someone that could possibly be innocent.”

After an exhaustive voir dire – a process where the judge and attorneys from both sides ask potential jurors questions to determine if they are competent and suitable to serve on a case – a jury of 12 and three alternates were seated Monday, July 31. The makeup of the jury include five black females, five black males and two white females. The three alternates include two white females and one black female.

The Mississippi Supreme Court assigned Senior Status Judge Larry Roberts, who retired from the Mississippi Court of Appeals in 2015, to hear this case as most of the judges in Hinds County recused themselves. Roberts, who resides in Meridian, granted the state’s request to sequester the jury. The jury is being provided accommodations at the Eagle Ridge Conference Center in Raymond, Miss.

Smith has maintained his innocence throughout this process and told The Mississippi Link that the evidence would speak for itself. “This is a witch hunt and it’s shameful that one elected official would pursue something – as ridiculous as these charges are – against another elected official,” he said. “I am confident that the evidence used in the courtroom will prove my innocence.”

On Day 3 of court proceedings, a large group of Smith supporters  gathered on the second floor to show strength and solidarity. His crowd of supporters was impressive enough for the judge to issue a stern warning to them that he would not tolerate any outbreaks or any type of movement that could be considered an attempt to sway the jury.

The trial is expected to last the remainder of this week and could last up to two weeks.