Chokwe Lumumba, newly-elected mayor of Jackson, was granted a motion Friday in Clay County Circuit Court to withdraw from his post as attorney for Archie Quinn, an Oktibbeha County man accused of capital murder.
For a little over four years Lumumba has represented Quinn, who was scheduled to stand trial Monday in Oktibbeha County for killing one person, shooting another, burglarizing the shooting victim's home and shooting into a dwelling. Lumumba said because of his mayoral status he would not have been able to represent Quinn during the trial, which has been postponed.
“We're working on a budget in Jackson right now and the responsibilities of the mayor this time of year are arduous,” Lumumba said. “I have to work with members of the council to make sure they understand the budget. It's very demanding for me.”
Sixteenth Circuit Court Judge Lee Howard denied Lumumba's original motion to withdraw solely on the reason he was elected to office. Howard said no matter if an attorney is elected to public office he or she still has a responsibility to their client, the Mississippi Bar and the court of the State in which the attorney practices.
After that motion was denied Lumumba requested to withdraw due to a medical examination he is scheduled to undergo this week. Howard sustained this motion, stating the motion is “an appropriate request” due to Lumumba's health matter.
The court will now appoint two public defenders to represent Quinn, who allegedly committed the crimes Sept. 28, 2008, due to his indigence status.
Before Lumumba was allowed to withdraw, the court denied his motion for the case to continue. Howard said the court has heard between 20 and 30 motions in this case, which has been continued many times. Howard said that's partially due to medical treatment for Quinn, whom the State believes tried to take his own life by shooting himself. The injury left Quinn with extensive damage to the face and neck that required several surgeries to restore him to his present state. During Quinn's arraignment, the issue of competency arose, Howard said, but the court later found him competent to stand trial. Lumumba said Quinn's mental capability is “a day to day issue and some days are better than others.” Howard said because of Quinn's mental retardation prior to his 18th birthday, the death penalty recommendation is “off the table” and is inapplicable in this case under state law.
The case was continued to the next term of court in Oktibbeha County.