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State defends police rights to keep certain information confidential

December 8, 2012

The Sixteenth Circuit Court District is asking the Clay County Circuit Court for an order that would grant the West Point Police Department permission to keep certain criminal documentation confidential – documentation that is wanted in a recent wrongful death lawsuit.
The lawsuit was filed months ago by Aubrey Mitchell, who is suing Ridgewood East Apartments and UAH Property Management, for the death of his son, Devin Mitchell, who was shot and killed at the apartment complex Jan. 1, 2012.
Attorneys for UAH subpoenaed the West Point Police Department back in November to turn over all police reports taken from Jan. 1, 2009 to Jan. 1, 2012 at 1311 E. Main Street, the location of
Ridgewood East Apartments. The attorneys, Dukes, Dukes, Keating and Faneca of Hattiesburg, are also subpoenaing the WPPD to submit to them all documentation showing the number of homicides reported and investigated in the year 2011.
But the State says the WPPD isn’t required to turn over these documentations to the attorneys in this active lawsuit. The State filed a motion Monday in Clay County Circuit Court asking the court to quash the subpoena. Sixteenth District Attorney Forrest Allgood stated in the motion to quash that the information on criminal activity that Dukes and Dukes is requesting may jeopardize pending criminal investigations. Allgood further stated that records containing information about crimes still under investigation are exempt from the Public Records Act, and this includes reports of informants and investigators.
If the court declines to enter an order quashing the subpoena, the State asks that the court provide the WPPD with a protective order.
A date has not yet been set to hear the motion to quash.

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