JAC K S O N
Vol 20 No. 1 // September 1 - 28, 2021 // Subscribe free for breaking news at JFPDaily.com
FREE PRESS MAGAZINE Reporting Truth to Power in Mississippi since 2002
Lost in a Broken System
s r a e Y d n e p S s e e n i a t s e l D a i r y T h t W u o th i W s l i a J in Hinds 3
It’s Our 19th Birthday!
pp 18 - 20
Best of Jackson: Legal 2021 Hathorn, pp 14-16
Fall Arts Preview pp 26-28
8-1 p p , n w o r C
September 1 - 28, 2021 • jfp.ms
of the month
September 1 - 28, 2021 Vol. 20 No. 1
ON THE COVER Photo by Tim Hufner on Unsplash
4 Editor’s Note
6 Tax Elimination House Speaker Philip Gunn’s tax-relief proposal may benefit the wealthy, at the expense of everyone else.
courtesy Stephen Stuart
8 cover story 14 bOJ legal 2021 18 happy birthday jfp
dedicated to the field,” he remarks. “So (COVID) hasn’t lowered my interest in continuing my education.” Medical school, in fact, has helped Stuart focus those interests, as he is currently set on specializing in orthopedics, a field he first became familiar with as a two-sport athlete, playing football and basketball as a teenager. “I was always around that area (of medicine),” Stuart says. “People get hurt playing sports, and they go to an orthopedic surgeon if they break a bone or tear a ligament.” While countless hours of studying lie ahead as he works toward serving injured athletes, he is enjoying his newfound community in the metro area. “It’s been a bit of an adjustment,” Stuart admits. “But there’s a lot more to do here, and I’ve been able to reunite with some old friends I hadn’t seen in awhile.” A couple weeks into his first semester, Stuart has been avoiding the potential pitfalls that can come from reentering school after three years by balancing his daily studying regimen with time to decompress and maintain his mental health. Completing his studies in Jackson also allows Stuart to remain in close proximity to his family, which Stuart says is a priority. He’s happy to be an aspiring doctors at UMMC: “It’s a great school, and I’m glad that I’m able to get a good education from there.” —Taylor McKay Hathorn
Local musician and graphic artist Jason Turner collaborates with scientist and author Michael Ransom to create a comic-book serialization of the latter’s hit thriller.
23 bites 24 melodies 25 film and tv
25 The Chosen Productions Jackson natives found a Mississippi-based film and television production company and plan a TV pilot.
26 30 30 31 27
fall arts preview Puzzle Sorensen astro Classifieds
September 1 - 28, 2021 • boomjackson.com
hen it came to Stephen Stuart’s dream of medical school, the third time was the charm. “It was always the goal,” Stuart says of his recent acceptance to the University of Mississippi Medical Center. “It just took me a few tries. It’s a very tough, competitive thing to get into.” Years before Stuart entered the fray of medical-school hopefuls, he began preparing himself for the rigors of the program, majoring in biochemistry at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, which was just a stone’s throw from the rural Oak Grove area he grew up in. Even though his dreams were briefly deferred, Stuart continued to immerse himself in the health-care profession, working full-time in patient transport at Forrest General Hospital before transferring to the surgery unit as a technician. “I was able to gain a lot of experience,” Stuart says of his time at Forrest Health’s flagship hospital. Stuart’s stint there, though, was marred by the COVID-19 pandemic, which Stuart says altered his work significantly. “It was a big change,” he notes. “You have to be more aware of your surroundings and be more careful with patient interaction.” Despite the influx of COVID-positive patients and rapidly shifting safety protocols, Stuart says his enthusiasm for the profession never waned. “I’ve always been super interested in and super
22 ‘The Ripper Gene’
founding editor’s note Publisher & President Todd Stauffer Associate Publisher Kimberly Griffin Managing Editor Nate Schumann Art Director Zilpha Young Online & JFPDaily.com Editor Dustin Cardon REPORTERS AND WRITERS City Reporter Kayode Crown Reporting Fellow Julian Mills Contributing Writers Dustin Cardon, Bryan Flynn, Taylor McKay Hathorn, Olivia Mars, Tunga Otis, Richard Coupe,Torsheta Jackson, Michele D. Baker, Mike McDonald EDITORS AND OPERATIONS Founding Editor Donna Ladd Editorial Assistant Shaye Smith Consulting Editor JoAnne Prichard Morris
SALES, ONLINE & DIGITAL SERVICES Content Specialist Amber Cliett Web Designer Montroe Headd Let’s Talk Jackson Editor Kourtney Moncure DISTRIBUTION Distribution Coordinator Ken Steere Distribution Team Yvonne Champion, Ruby Parks, Eddie Williams TALK TO US: Letters email@example.com Editorial firstname.lastname@example.org Queries email@example.com Listings firstname.lastname@example.org Advertising email@example.com Publisher firstname.lastname@example.org News tips email@example.com
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September 1 - 28, 2021 • jfp.ms
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The Jackson Free Press is the city’s award-winning, locally owned news magazine, reaching more than 35,000 readers per issue via more than 600 distribution locations in the Jackson metro area—and an average of over 35,000 visitors per week at www.jacksonfreepress. com. The Jackson Free Press is free for pick-up by readers; one copy per person, please. First-class subscriptions are available to “gold level” and higher members of the JFP VIP Club (jfp.ms/vip). The views expressed in this magazine and at jacksonfreepress.com are not necessarily those of the publisher or management of Jackson Free Press Inc. © Copyright 2021 Jackson Free Press Inc.
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by Donna Ladd
his journey all started in 2002 upstairs in a one-bedroom apartment on Fortification Street next to La Cazuela. I had moved back to Mississippi in 2001, dragging Todd Stauffer with me as we Mississippi folks tend to do to those we love, thinking I would write a book and have a cheap home base to travel from for freelance journalism. Three months after we moved into a Belhaven duplex and rented the Fortification one for me to write in (hey, we were used to NYC rental prices), Sept. 11 happened, changing the world and our work-travel plans. We were already awestruck by the potential of a capital city filled with brilliant and loving and often neglected people, and thinking it needed a newspaper that would serve every ZIP code, every neighborhood. Papers here then either only targeted readers of one race or outright pandered to the suburbs (and their crime hysteria and racist anxieties) for the most ad dollars they could grab, much of it being shipped to shareholders out of state. So we did this thing, naming it for a Jackson civil-rights newspaper started by Black leaders Medgar Evers and R.L.T. Smith and others, and printed by a beleaguered white publisher Helen Brannon Smith, whom wealthy whites basically boycotted out of existence and livelihood. We didn’t have deep pockets. Todd, Stephen Barnett, Jimmy Mumford, Bingo Holman and I started it literally on a small kitchen table, with Alisa Price joining us to sell ads, Jaro Vacek to snap pics, with Tony DiFatta’s covers. Eager volunteers showed up, and later paid staff. White people would call up and whisper, “Is this a Black paper?” because we put Black people on the cover for reasons other than crime or sports. A bunch of whiny north Jackson conservative men started coming after us on the website and, yes, calling for boycotts (unsuccessfully since our readers buy cars, theater tickets and martinis, too). Todd and I drove from barber and beauty shops to BBQ and fried-fish joints all over Jackson in a raggedy Toyota Tercel to ask them to distribute our newspaper. Yes, we got funny looks—who are these people!?—but within months we’d get calls asking for their JFPs if they were late. I was thinking about that first office a lot last week. With our tiny team, we’d stay up all night to lay the paper out. One night, Art Director Jimmy Mumford (who designed it remotely from home) messaged about 2 a.m.: “I’ll be asleep on the floor whenever you’re ready.”
It was 6 a.m. after an all-nighter when the power went down just as we were about to send a big story to the printer. Bleary-eyed Todd sheepishly admitted that he might’ve forgotten to pay the bill. Suddenly, Stephen disappeared, and the lights came back on. I still don’t want to know. But I’ve mostly been thinking about Miss S and Dr. S. Miss S was a tailless cat I saved at the Fortification “office.” She was a calico mix of colors with thick fur of all heights with Cleopatra eyeliner around her annoyed eyes. She was carrying a dead kitten when I first got her to the vet. She became our mascot, sleeping on the printer courtesy Donna Ladd
ART AND PHOTOGRAPHY Graphic Designer Kristin Brenemen Contributing Photographers Acacia Clark, Nick Judin, Imani Khayyam, Delreco Harris, Brandon Smith
19 Years of Love, Hope, Miss S, Dr. S and Never, Ever Giving Up
Founding Editor Donna Ladd
because it was warm and regularly telling us all off in little scratchy meow spurts that reminded me of my mama’s beautician who smoked too much. I always said Miss S owned a beauty shop in a former life. Miss S tolerated most of us—but she was obsessed with her only real love. Dr. S was the nom de plume for Charles Corder, my friend from Mississippi State who had been my editor at
It was fun, and it was stressful, but the JFP is still here. The Reflector for a hot minute. We had reconnected after I moved back when he was stuck in a copy-editing job at The Clarion-Ledger that he hated. He was fascinated that we were starting a new kind of newspaper and started hanging out at the office. Or with Miss S, I should say. Those two adored each other. As mean and snippy as she could be with the
rest of us unworthy subjects, Charles was her main squeeze. He’d lumber in the door saying “heyyyy” as he always did, and she would drop on her back and purr lovingly to him. I was embarrassed for her. Charles, my favorite curmudgeon ever, was a sports fanatic, and we always talked about starting a smart, more journalistic sports publication in Mississippi one day, but never had enough funds to do it. I couldn’t afford to hire him away from the Ledger, so he volunteered for the JFP, calling himself Dr. S and writing our rather sarcastic sports roundups back then. This was before media collaboration was even considered in this cutthroat business, so his employer (where he edited, not wrote) didn’t know he was doing it. Doc would infuriate sports fans; most thought he was Todd—you know, S as in Stauffer. I doubt anyone ever guessed right. I don’t usually publish writers without real names, but I made an exception for Charles because he seemed to need to do it, to be a part of an exciting new journalism venture even in a small way. He also volunteered to start our events calendar, doing the tedious work of gathering and editing endless blurbs for a while. Over time, Doc would move on from the Ledger and serve as the managing editor of the Greenwood Commonwealth, a better use of his talents, and eventually retire with serious health issues. Regretfully, we never got to do our sports publication together, and I haven’t seen him nearly enough in recent years, especially during the pandemic. I work all the time, and he was surrounded by loving family. It punched me in the stomach to hear recently that Dr. S died from COVID-19 far too young. Since then, I’ve been reliving those early JFP days when we all were determined to make this crazy thing work one way or the other. It was fun, and it was stressful, but the JFP is still here. And now the statewide Mississippi Free Press is here, too—another dream for 19 years. I also plan to bring the Youth Media Project back when it’s safe for teens to gather. I dedicate this first 19 years to Charles Corder, Herman Snell, Stephen, Jimmy, Alisa, Bingo, staffers over the years, advertisers who got it, and all of you who have believed in this vision and helped us in so many ways. Mississippians can do so much when we decide to build together rather than tear others down. Thank you. Follow Donna Ladd on Twitter at @donnerkay and visit mississippifreepress.org if you haven’t. Follow it at @msfreepress.
Taylor McKay Hathorn
Delreco Harris, also known as RaRCharm Artiste, is a professional photographer, singer, songwriter and artist based out of Brandon. He is the owner of RaR Productions, LLC. He contributed photos to this issue.
Richard Coupe is a scientist, occasional writer, soccer referee, and once more, against all odds, the owner of a house needing much work. He wrote the food story on Jerk City Grille.
Taylor McKay Hathorn enjoys binging TV shows, watching the sun set over the Mississippi River and tweeting her opinions @_youaremore_. She wrote the Best of Jackson: Legal blurbs and the Jacksonian article.
Freelance writer Torsheta Jackson is originally from Shuqualak, Miss. A wife and mother of four, she writes and is a certified lactation counselor. She wrote the music story on Deshawn Goncalves and the feature story on “Love Never Fails.”
City Reporter Kayode Crown came to Mississippi from Nigeria where he earned a postgraduate diploma in Journalism and was a journalist for 10 years. He likes rock music and has fallen in love with the beautiful landscapes in Jackson. He wrote the cover story on how pre-trial trainees may spend years in jail without a trial.
Editorial Assistant Shaye Smith holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Mississippi in psychology and English literature and master’s degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in marriage counseling and religious education. She manages the events calendar and organized the Fall Arts Preview for the issue.
September 1 - 28, 2021 • boomjackson.com
storytelling & re, ir tu
“I’m opposed to robbing Peter to pay Paul. In fact, I want Peter and Paul to have more money in their pocket.” —Governor Tate Reeves on the new tax proposal.
Tax Relief, But For Whom?
ce eren rev
Speaker Gunn Wants Reform That Benefits Wealthiest, Costs Others More
September 1 - 28, 2021 • jfp.ms
Mississippi House of Representatives Speaker Philip Gunn introduced legislation to eliminate Mississippi’s personal income tax earlier this year, while proposing to make up for the revenue shortfall with increased consumption taxes, such as sales tax, adding up to regressive reforms that have drawn criticism from businesses and advocacy groups alike.
doing so best positions Mississippi for longterm success,” Reeves said. “I hope that once the hearings are over, the Legislature will realize that eliminating Mississippi’s income tax is needed and reducing the tax burden on Mississippians across the board is the best way to ensure our state’s economic prosperity.” Reeves stopped short of approval for Gunn’s proposed sales-tax increase, however. “I hope that once the hearings are over, the Legislature will realize that the best way forward is to not swap the income tax for increases in sales, taxes, agriculture FEMA
Varying Support of State Leaders During the hearings, Gov. Tate Reeves expressed his approval for doing away with the state income tax in an Aug. 24 press briefing after thanking Sen. Josh Harkins, R-Flowood, and Rep. Trey Lamar, R-Senatobia, for organizing the hearings. “I’m also very glad that the lieutenant governor, speaker, and I all agree that the income tax should be eliminated, and that
COURTESY PHILIP GUNN
ust as the realities of a fourth wave of COVID-19 sunk into the state, and just miles from a field hospital set up in the garage of the Mississippi hospital most likely to serve low-income patients, Mississippi legislators held a hearing on eliminating the state income tax. The tax elimination is a pet project of House Speaker Philip Gunn, who introduced legislation to reform Mississippi’s tax structure in the last legislative session. The bill passed in the House but died in the Senate, where support for the proposal never materialized. The proposal quickly drew nearuniversal criticism from myriad sources who don’t always agree over its potential negative effects on Mississippians with lower incomes, including vulnerable population advocacy groups, Mississippi businesses and organizations such as the Mississippi Chamber of Commerce. The late-August joint Senate-House panel held two hearings, with testimony from economists, tax experts and advocacy groups about potential risks and benefits of the tax-reform proposal that would replace lost income-tax revenue with an increase in sales tax and other consumption taxes. Gunn’s proposal would mean that Mississippians would save an increasing amount of money as their income level rose, which means the more money someone makes, the more they would benefit from the proposed cut. “It puts money back into your pocket,” Gunn said in a Feb. 25, 2021, video explaining his proposal. To make up for the loss in revenue, Gunn’s proposal would raise the already regressive state sales tax from 7% to 9.5%, in addition to certain other taxes like the state use tax.
by Julian Mills
taxes and other taxes,” Reeves said. “If you agree with me on that, that we should eliminate the income tax without raising taxes in other areas, I recommend you mention that to your legislators.” “I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again,” the governor said. “I’m opposed to taking less from you here and taking more from you there. I’m opposed to robbing from Peter to pay Paul. I’ve been in contact with many small businesses across Mississippi, including in the manufacturing and agricultural space, with outside think tanks and many other
stakeholders. Based on my conversations with them it’s clear. The consensus is that eliminating, not swapping the tax burden, is the way to go.” Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann agreed in part earlier this year. “I have concerns about raising anybody’s taxes,” Hosemann said on March 1. “There are significant things to discuss here.” ‘The Cooler Is Not a Grocery’ At the hearings, Mississippi Department of Revenue Commissioner
Hurricane Season Prep Atlantic hurricane season officially runs from June 1-Nov. 30, as we have already seen when Hurricane Ida hit our shores earlier this week. Make sure everyone in your household knows and understands your hurricane plan before the next one. Discuss the latest Centers for Disease Control guidance on COVID-19 and how it may affect your hurricane planning. For resources about hurricane risk and planning, including a suggested packing list, visit ready.gov/prepare MYTH: Preparing for disasters is time-consuming and expensive. FACT: Signing up for local alerts and warnings is free. Many preparedness apps are also free. FACT: Your home may already contain emergency kit items. FACT: You can purchase items for an emergency kit and assemble it over time. FACT: Having an adequate emergency supply of food and a communication plan can be of benefit no matter the hazard. SOURCE: FEMA
Regressive Taxes Defined Next, State Economist Corey Miller gave expert testimony on Mississippi’s tax structure. Sen. Hob Bryan, D-Amory, questioned the state economist about regressive taxes, to which Miller explained the general
meaning of a regressive tax versus a progressive tax. “The sales tax tends to be considered regressive because it takes a bigger portion of an individual’s income who, say, is making $30,000 a year than it does an individual who is making $50,000 a year,” Miller said. “So that’s the basic concept behind regressivity and taxes.” Miller broke down the basic tenets of tax policy as having five principles: (1) raising Adequate Revenue, (2) neutrality, (3) fairness, (4) ease of administration and compliance, and (5) accountability. GOVERNORS OFFICE
Chris Graham gave a basic breakdown of the State’s budget. Graham began with an overview of the State’s largest sources of tax revenue, namely the sales tax. “It’s our largest collected tax in the state,” he said. After sales tax, individual income taxes, corporate income taxes and use taxes provide the bulk of State revenues. Mississippi collected $9.4 billion in taxes in fiscal year 2021, of which 69%, or $6.5 billion, went into the State’s general fund. “To me, the interesting part of looking at the cash transfers (is), we send the money where the Legislature has instructed us to send it,” Graham said. “You can really take a step back and say OK, what are the priorities of the Legislature being done in the past?’” Graham specified that around 10 different agencies compete for the lion’s share of general fund dollars, while municipalities only receive 7.5%, or about $713 million in 2021. This municipal share is an increase of more than $100 million from the previous year, he explained. “You can see that the Legislature over the years has been concerned with sending money back to the local governments,” Graham said. The general fund is not the only source of revenue, however. About $150 million is received through the Department of Finance and Administration, while the Mississippi lottery collected $137 million in 2020. Of those lottery collections, the Legislature allocated $80 million to the Department of Transportation, while sending the remaining $57 million to the Department of Education. “Those aren’t reflected in our numbers because we don’t have any role in collecting those,” Graham specified. Sen. John Polk, R-Hattiesburg, questioned the commissioner about the state grocery tax, which Gunn’s proposal would cut in half from 7% to 3.5%. Graham responded by clarifying that the grocery tax only included food items. “When you go into the grocery store, for example, you might buy a ham, and you might buy a cooler for your Coca-Cola or beer or whatever you drink. The cooler is not a grocery, the ham is,” Graham said. He concluded that the state grocery tax brings in an estimated $400 million in annual revenue. At 7%, Mississippi has one of the highest rates of grocery tax in the nation.
Department of Revenue Commissioner Chris Graham broke down the state budget for the committee. Graham explained how the grocery tax only affects food, and not other popular items usually purchased in a grocery store.
It is the third principle, fairness, which brought scrutiny over the nature of the proposed regressive tax reform. “Most policy makers and analysts oppose regressive taxes in which the rate of taxation decreases as an individual’s income increases,” Miller said. “Most state tax systems are characterized as regressive because consumption taxes such as sales, use and excise taxes are central components and all of those are considered regressive taxes,” Miller explained. “Almost half of the tax revenue states collect come from regressive taxes, but because of their importance to states as a source of revenue, those consumption taxes are not likely to change.” This is in contrast to income taxes, which Miller says are at least slightly progressive on average. “The individual income tax in most states is at least slightly progressive, which tends to reduce some of the regressivity of the overall state tax system,” he said. Miller went on to explain that in his opinion, general tax policy has little to do with the actual health of a state’s economy. “Changes to state taxes in Mississippi are likely to have marginal effects on economic growth, employment and population,” Miller said. “While the
structure of the changes will determine the welfare effects of tax reforms on any particular income group, the overall effects to the state economy nevertheless likely will be very modest. “The national economy is the single most important influence on the economic environment of a state,” Miller said, citing a 2014 joint Harvard and Texas A&M study. “I believe this conclusion is particularly true for a state like Mississippi with a relatively small economy.” In contrast, Miller cited studies showing education and infrastructure as spending priorities that can have an impact on economic growth. “State spending on elementary education, secondary education and higher education, as well as infrastructure can promote economic growth over the long term,” Miller said. Worsening Existing Inequalities “Mississippi’s current tax system is regressive,” said Kyra Roby, an attorney and policy analyst for One Voice, a nonprofit group focused on public policy and advocacy for disadvantaged groups. “The state’s regressive tax system adversely affects its ability to raise revenue, contributes to the disinvestment of our local communities, and worsens existing inequalities amongst the state’s residents,” Roby said at the hearing. In her remarks, Roby advocated against regressive tax reform, in which Mississippi’s poorest and most vulnerable would shoulder more of the state’s financial burden, while advocating for various proposals to help uplift the state’s disadvantaged communities. “Taxes alone will not boost our economy,” Roby said. “State tax policies are but one of many factors that determine the actual economic growth of state economies.” “The national and international economy, a state’s natural resources, the education of its workforce, the proximity to major markets, and the mix of state industries are among the major factors that determine the growth of state economies,” Roby said, citing a report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Roby also cited an Aug. 25 study from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy throughout her testimony. The ITEP study calls Gunn’s proposal “misguided” and that Mississippi does not have the natural resources or tourist attractions which make up for state revenue shortfalls in other states, such as Texas and Florida. The ITEP study also cites other southern states as being poor models if Mississippi does not wish to enact regressive tax policies. Tennessee eliminated that state’s
income tax, yet ITEP says the “poorest 20 percent of residents pay significantly more of their income in state and local taxes than any other group in the state.” An increase in consumption taxes would disproportionately affect people of color in Mississippi according to the study. Black households pay an average of 30% more of their annual income in consumption taxes than white households. If the proposed income-tax removal and sales-tax increase are enacted, the poorest 20% of the state would pay an extra $200 in taxes while the top 1% of taxpayers would save more than $28,000 annually, in addition to hurting seniors on fixed incomes, who do not pay income tax but do pay consumption taxes. In contrast to Gunn’s regressive tax reform, Roby proposed progressive tax policies such as reinstating corporate, wealth and estate taxes, as well as strengthening the income tax instead of eliminating it. “There are common-sense, effective tax policies that will help us raise revenue, help working families and promote equity in Mississippi,” Roby said. “Taxing wealth to ensure that the state’s wealthiest individuals pay their fair share, strengthening, not eliminating the state individual income tax, reinstating the corporate tax and estate tax, expanding the sales tax base to include internet businesses and travel companies, implementing tax credits, including the creation of a refundable tax credit, earned income tax credit and child tax credit.” Roby also voiced policy alternatives such as expanding education and Medicaid, eliminating fines and fees, and enacting a state equal pay law as measures to help lift up everyday Mississippians. “These policies alone are unlikely to cause the economic boom that we all hope for, but they would at least lead us in the right direction,” Roby said. Email: email@example.com.
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September 1 - 28, 2021 • boomjackson.com
Lost in a Broken System
Why Detainees Spend Years in Hinds Jails Without Trial by Kayode Crown
Sept. 13, 2021, after appointing Harrison. But the 16-month stay would not be the first time Mosley would spend extended time in jail without a trial. On May 22, 2019, court documents signed by Hinds County Circuit Court Senior Judge Tomie Green showed that Mosley, at that time, had been held for six months without trial. The charge was for assaulting Hinds County Deputy Sheriff Johnny Ransome
an order for Mosley’s arrest six days later on Dec. 18, 2019. Court documents show that officials reduced the charge against Mosley to a misdemeanor in September 2020, sentenced him to six months in prison and released him on time served. But he remained in jail for the murders he allegedly committed on Jan. 26, 2020, after his arrest three days later. He allegedly killed Djuana Robinson and Michael Lawson at kayode crown
September 1 - 28, 2021 • jfp.ms
he last attorney who worked with Justin Mosley, 21, before he was found hanging in his Hinds County Detention Center cell in Raymond was Malcolm O. Harrison. Hinds County Circuit Judge Eleanor Faye Peterson appointed Harrison as Mosley’s defense attorney on Feb. 9, 2021, after the public defender withdrew, citing conflict of interest. That attorney, Michael Henry, said that a witness in the two-count alleged murder charge against Mosley was once his client. When Mosley died in detention on Sunday, April 18, 2021, one month before his 22nd birthday on May 18, he had been in custody for 16 months. Harrison told the Jackson Free Press that Mosley did not indicate suicidal tendencies the various times he spoke with him. “I met with him three or four times during the time period that I represented him,” Harrison said in an Aug. 20 phone interview. “Between my time with him and his unfortunate demise, I never saw—I’m not a medical doctor—but I never saw signs of hopelessness. I never saw signs of, you know, of suicide. And I didn’t see that. I was as surprised as anybody (by his death),” Harrison added. “(His mother, Chalonda Mosley) was very involved in calling my office, and she had unique insight obviously into Justin Mosley. She told me on several occasions what his medical diagnosis was, what his issues were and how best to deal with it. Again, I just never saw any of that.” Harrison declined to share what the reported medical diagnosis was. The attorney provided an email address and a phone number for Chalonda Mosley, but she has not responded to emails or phone calls. Mosley’s indictment for murder in July 2020 came after he had already spent more than six months in jail. By the time he died in April, the accused had spent 16 months in incarceration, and his trial had not even begun. Peterson had set it for
District Attorney Jody Owens explained in an interview in his office on July 8 that Hinds County needs more resources to reduce the time detainees spend in Hinds County Detention Centers before going to trial.
at a basketball game at Raymond High School in November 2018. The courtappointed defense attorney filed a motion to dismiss the charges for due-process violation on April 11, 2019, because of the lack of trial since Mosley’s Nov. 16, 2018, arrest at age 19. Green reduced his bond to $5,000, and officials released him from jail on May 23, 2019. The Mississippi constitution says trials should occur within 270 days of postindictment arraignment. Uslegal.com said that the 270-day rule grants an accused person a statutory right to a speedy trial. The indictment for assaulting an officer came a year after the alleged act, on Dec. 12, 2019, with Judge Peterson issuing
an apartment complex at 1101 Highway 467 in Edwards, Miss. Court documents revealed Mosley’s alleged additional offenses in jail. On Oct. 9, 2020, in the Hinds County Detention Center in Raymond, Mosley allegedly “snatched Deputy Martravious Elkins’ “less-lethal shotgun inside A Pod Unit-(1) in the facility.” On Jan 10, 2021, he allegedly “kicked the cell dirt windows of C pod unit 4 repeatedly until it shattered.” On Feb 11, 2021, Mosley allegedly sprayed pepper spray on detention officer Marcus Wilson. The investigator, Martravious Elkins, said Mosley refused to speak with him about spraying the officer. Based on available records, Mosley
was in jail from November 2018 to May 2019 and from January 2020 to April 2021, totaling two years without going to trial on any charge. Hinds County Detention Numbers Fifty-eight people in Hinds County Detention Centers by July 2, 2021, had spent more than two years there, documents the Jackson Free Press obtained show. The facilities hold 521 detainees at that time. Renewed concerns about the length of time pre-trial detainees spend at the Hinds County Detention Center and the Work Center, both in Raymond, surfaced after county officials found Mosley hanging in his cell in April after being locked up for 16 months. On July 6, another detainee, Johnny Woodrow Gann, 33, was also found hanging in his cell, the second this year. Hinds County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Tyree Jones said in a July 12 interview that Gann had been indicted for burglary and was a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. He had been in jail since March. Hinds County District Attorney Jody Owens talked in a July 8 interview about the different innovations his office has tried since his election in 2019, but he added that the volume of crime in recent times is a significant issue in how long the accused stay in detention without a trial. “Realistically, we know the intake of crime in 2019 and 2020, and still what we’re seeing in 2021, the current system is not yet equipped to handle the volume of crime we have with the few judges we have,” Owens said. He ran as a “decarceral” prosecutor, meaning he pledged to free more people accused of non-violent crimes on the way to reforming the county’s criminal-justice system, or help track them into alternative programs. Decreasing the pre-trial backlog in the county detention centers was a campaign point for candidates for both sheriff and DA in the 2019 elections, including late Sheriff Lee Vance and Owens,
Need More Judges The district attorney said in the July 8 interview that if the nine circuit judges in the county work a full schedule, there will still be significant backlogs and that he has been reaching out to state officials to get more resources. The Legislature approved one-year funding for two attorneys to work with the Hinds County district attorney’s office. “We need permanent positions, but certainly we don’t want to be ungrateful for any help because we certainly need all the help we can get. But in addition, we need at least one, if not two, judiciary seats, and we need another fully funded judgeship in Hinds County. That’s my position,” Owens explained. “And when I say fully funded, I mean a full-time judge, a full-time court reporter, a full-time law clerk, a full-time court administrator, those four positions, full judgeship, and also, of course, court bailiffs,” the district attorney added. Need More Judges, Or Not? Mosley’s last attorney, Harrison, had
BOTEC: ‘Archaic Practices’ Concerns of delay in processing cases in Hinds has been a longstanding concern. The Mississippi Legislature, in 2014, and then-Attorney General Jim Hood commissioned a study of causes and solutions for Jackson crime. One of the BOTEC Analysis Corp. reports, released in November 2015, focused on prosecution and case-processing times. “In particular, the stakeholders wanted to know what resources are required to move cases faster, and whether Hinds County has a sufficient supply of those resources,” the report stated. BOTEC noted that “there was a perception that long case-processing times emboldened criminals by creating a sense of impunity.” The report said the priority should be to get the process right by better court-management practices before
saying they would lead on a holistic analysis of the Hinds system, including the judicial branch. Vance died on Aug. 4 after testing positive for COVID-19 following an outbreak of the virus in Hinds County jail. Marshand Crisler is acting sheriff. Owens told the Jackson City Council on May 4 that his “smart justice” initiative has diverted 400% more people from the criminal-justice system than the previous year. “We gave more boys and girls who are non-violent offenders second chances,” he said. Back on Jan. 26, 2001, Owens said he had diverted 300 in a press briefing recapping his first year in office.
adding more staffing. “All available evidence indicates that professional case-flow management is more effective to improve performance than increased staffing, but it is not available in Hinds County,” BOTEC investigators found. “The lack of support by professional court managers means that judges work harder while being slowed down by archaic practices,” BOTEC explained. “Good institutional management requires ensuring that a system is working as efficiently as possible before assuming that increased staffing is needed.” District Attorney Owens told the press in January that his office is using an ineffective system to manage its workflow. “One of the challenges that we have is that we have antiquated software. It’s very difficult for us to keep the data the way we want it to be. We’d looked at getting upgraded systems and working with the board of supervisors on providing that,” he explained then. The 2014 BOTEC report emphasized the importance of overhauling the county’s court system’s processes before any other step. “Unless the Hinds County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office overhauls its docketing and data-collection practices, the effectiveness of any attempt to improve case-processing speed will remain
Hinds County Senior Circuit Judge Tomie Green said Hinds County needs better evidence gathering, proper screening of charges, and to double the number of judges to reduce the length of time people spend in detention.
unknown because outcomes cannot be measured,” the BOTEC report said. “All open cases should be managed in a computer system that accurately identifies significant court events so that case status may be correctly assessed.” “Priority should be given to improving quality of data reporting, with periodic audits and cross-checking to ensure that sta-
tistics are properly generated,” it added. “When the court can reliably track case information, improvement efforts can begin.” It is unclear if the county has taken those steps. Hinds County Circuit Clerk Zack Wallace told the Jackson Free Press in a phone interview on Aug. 31 that the county has complied with the electronic filing of cases since 2014 based on Mississippi Supreme Court’s order. “We are doing all the docketing for circuit and county court,” he said. “I have attorneys emailing me documents; attorneys can actually file their own dockets on MEC—that is Mississippi Electronic Court.” “So there’s nothing slowing down with the circuit clerk’s office, and filers are not slowing down at all,” he added. “Even if the judges have to file an order or something, they can email it to me, I have access at home, or I go to the office to make sure it goes into the file, and once it’s uploaded to the file, all the attorneys that are registered in that particular case number, they receive a copy of that document.” He said that the other items are up to the judges’ court administrators. Green: Double The Judges Hinds County Circuit Court Senior Judge Green also says the various issues affecting the extended stay of inmates in Hinds County court for decades include an inadequate number of judges. “Our number needs to double, even if they only double for a while, and then if the caseloads go down, certainly the Legislature can reduce it,” she told the Jackson Free Press on July 26. “But right now, there’s no question that we need more judges, courtrooms and staff.” The current four circuit-court judges handle felony cases, with municipal or county courts dealing with misdemeanors. The Hinds County Circuit Court covers two judicial districts, which include 10 cities: Jackson Terry, Byram, Clinton, Pocahontas, Edwards, Bolton, Utica, Pocahontas and Raymond. “The four judges have to take care of all the felony cases that come down by indictment. I have to do those cases in between the indictment and when they are arrested, hearing the motions. And I am supposed to be reviewing all the people in the jail to see if there are people there 90 days or more who haven’t been indicted,” Green said in the interview. “But in the meantime, the DA is every month indicting more people, more charges,” she added. “Now we could have cases that are back four, five years old, just the volume of cases for four judges.” Green said the judges’ job also more BROKEN SYSTEM, p 10
September 1 - 28, 2021 • boomjackson.com
Late Sheriff Lee Vance explained why some of the inmates in Hinds County’s detention centers spend a long time awaiting trial. Vance died one month after a July 9 interview, after testing positive for COVID-19.
extensive experience in the practice of law in Hinds County, including serving as the prosecuting attorney for 10 years (19992009) and as a circuit judge (2009-2011). He said adding judges is a solution to the accused not spending extended time in jail as pretrial detainees in the county. “I just think we don’t have enough judges. We don’t have enough prosecutors to handle the caseload in Hinds County. Hinds County has a large number of violent criminal detainees, and you need more judges and more prosecutors, more assistant district attorneys, they handle all the cases,” Harrison said. Mississippi State Public Defender André de Gruy said in a phone interview on July 12 that he had not seen any evidence of an increase in crime that would justify needing another judge, as Owens had stated. De Gruy emphasized that additional judges may not be the panacea if the process of gathering evidence to present the case is not more effective. “I keep hearing that there’s this surge in crime, but I had not seen any evidence of actually an increase in crime in Hinds County, or even in the city of Jackson,” the public defender said. “What we know is that there’s an increase in homicides and aggravated assaults.” “So if you get 2,000 cases, 40 extra homicides isn’t going to show up as an increase in crime. But, you know, we recognize that those cases are going to take time,” De Gruy added. “If the backlog is on gathering evidence, whether it’s evidence from the Jackson Police Department on their investigation or it’s the medical examiner’s office, or it’s the investigation from the defense after everything’s turned over to them, you’re not going to speed up the case (by) just putting a new judge there. The cases are still not going to be ready.”
Lost in a Broken System, from page 8
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includes civil cases with plaintiffs seeking a minimum of $200,000 in damages, serving as appellate judges for lower courts and tribunals, defendants already in jail, filing post-trial motions, and cases filed against the State of Mississippi. “And with four judges, that becomes extremely difficult,” she added. Having been a judge since 1999, as well as the first woman judge in Hinds County Circuit Court and a lawyer for 15 years before that, Green says there is a noticeable increase in the volume of cases at the Hinds County Circuit Court. “I don’t think anyone has looked at Hinds County to see whether the volume of cases requires a larger number of judges at the circuit level,” she said. “I’ve been here from the time that I was practicing law for about 15 years before I even took up the bench. But there were only four judges then, and it’s still only four circuit judges now.” “But we just need more judges. I think the caseload justifies it, the work justifies it, the criminal docket justifies it, and we need twice what we have now,” she added. “The volume of cases has increased, and early on when I was with the Legislature, we were trying to get the Legislature to underwrite additional judges for Hinds county, and they didn’t.” Green was in the Mississippi House of Representatives from 1992 to 1998 before her election to the bench. Recalling the debates on increasing the number of judges for Hinds County and the objections to it, she said some say that the caseload does not justify it, and there was consideration for the financial implication on the county. “At that time, I think one of the questions was not only is it that the State has to pay—the State only pays for the judges— it’s an unfunded mandate to your county,” the chief judge said. Green said the county has to pay for support staff, including bailiffs, as well as provide offices and courtrooms, and everything else judges need to do their jobs, or reimburse the State for the expenses.
Waiting For Mental Evaluation As part of Mosley’s prosecution for murder, the court, in its scheduling order for the case dated Oct. 20, 2020, said that the “Defendant shall within thirty (30) days from today’s date file their motion for mental evaluations pursuant to M.R.Cr.P. 12 (Mississippi Rules of Criminal Prosecution), motion for speedy trial and/or motion for bond.” The order set the trial date for March 8, 2021, one month before Mosley was found hanging in detention. On Feb. 26,
2021, the judge moved the trial day to Sept. 13 after appointing Harrison as his defense attorney. After the Oct. 20, 2020, court order, the next item in the docket was a Dec. 1, 2020, motion for bond by the defense. There was nothing about “mental evaluation.” After Harrison took over the case on Feb. 9, 2021, he filed a motion for discovery the next day. His request from the prosecution included “records, reports, results of any psychological/psychiatric tests of the defendant.” There is no indication
tainees that have been ordered to (go to) state hospital that we still have to house because they don’t have a bed available for them,” White said. “And they must have that evaluation before they can progress through the criminal-justice system,” the late sheriff added. “Because of the situation with the severely mentally ill people, they are basically stuck in our system.” De Gruy indicated that the number 133 might not be just those awaiting an initial mental evaluation. “I’d be shocked if
Length of Time in Detention
for Detainees at Hinds County Detention Centers at July 2,2021 29 5%
15 14 3% 3%
0-60 Days 65 12%
6 Months - 1 Year 1 - 2 Years 301 58%
2 - 3 Years 3 - 4 Years 4+ Years
Days Spent by Hinds County Detention Centers Detainees in Incarceration Without Indictment (45days+) and Post Indictment (45days+)
Over 90 days post-indictment
Between 45 and 90 days post-indictment Over 90 days without being indicted
Between 45 and 90 days without being indicted
SOURCE: HINDS COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE
that he got any information of that nature or if Mosley’s case ultimately warranted it. However, many of the 521 detainees in Hinds County detention centers need mental evaluation for their cases to proceed. Still, only a few dozen beds are available at the Mississippi State Hospital, with 16 for Hinds County, county sheriff’s office officials told the Jackson Free Press. “We’ve got 133 people that we are waiting to get access to 16 beds,” late Sheriff Vance said in his office on July 9. With him were Undersheriff Alan White, Assistant Warden Travis Crain and Chief Deputy Eric T. Wall. White said the number used to be 120. An evaluation can last between three months and one year, the assistant warden indicated. “We have about 10 court-ordered de-
they’ve got 133 that are just waiting on an evaluation,” De Gruy said. “They’re not all going to need a bed. And I suspect that there may be some other delays in those cases, like (waiting) on somebody to gather medical records to give to the (medical) provider, or (it) could be some other kind of a delay in getting everything to the (medical) provider.” Jails: ‘Mental Health Institutions’ Before becoming a judge, Tomie Green worked as the Mississippi Department of Mental Health Services coordinator from 1980 to 1981. She said officials need to address the issue of pre-trial inmates needing mental-health evaluations to help speed up trials. “Our state hospital has only (about)
50 beds to make evaluations for 82 counties and 22 circuit districts, only (about) 50 beds and only two security people to help take care of the 50 people while they are being evaluated,” she said. “So it takes years to get into the State hospital. So we’ve got no beds or not enough people to (perform the evaluation).” Green said the procedure is that if an individual is not competent to stand trial, the court will remand them to the Mississippi State Hospital for restoration to competency. If, after a year, they are not brought back to competency, the next step is a civil commitment through Hinds County Chancery Court. But the story does not end there. After an order for civil commitment, “two years later they are still in the beds at the jail because they can’t get a bed at the state hospital; there’s just no bed there to house them,” Green said. “What I’ve got to do is pull from budget items where I’ve got some money from each judge to pay for (private forensic psychiatrist). By the time the private report comes back, if we commit them, the state hospital still has no room for them, and they just linger in the jail,” Judge Green added. “So when you see someone with five or six years (as a jail inmate), they may be there because that’s the only place they have a bed.” This, she said, may be the case for “40% to 50%” of the jail population. “The state has not developed a system for people who have not been convicted of any crime, may be charged, but can’t be convicted of a crime, and are being treated in the jail. Jails have become our new mental institutions,” she added. Mississippi Public Defender De Gruy argues that an assessment does not have to occur at the state hospital and that Hinds County may be unwilling to go through other routes because of the cost. “(The County) may not want to spend a few thousand dollars to have a private evaluation, but the time that the case is waiting, it’s costing them money just to have them sitting there waiting on a bed,” De Gruy told the Jackson Free Press. In the Mississippi Rule of Criminal Procedure, citations of the Mississippi State Hospital as a place for mental evaluations are paired with the option for “other appropriate mental health facility.” State Hospital Responds The section of the Mississippi State Hospital that performs mental evaluations for pre-trial detainees is called MSH Forensic Services. In lieu of an interview, MSH said in a Thursday, July 15,
Hinds County Sheriff Office
Justin Mosley, 21, was found hanging in the Hinds County Detention Center in April 2021 after two years locked up without a trial.
‘Crippling’ Examiner Backlog In July, DA Owens said the State of Mississippi has not come up with a solution for the backlog of evidence that the State Crime Lab needs to process before trials can occur. The delay is “crippling,” he said, with 150 outstanding autopsies. He cited the cost of recruiting forensic pathologists to Mississippi as a reason. “The state crime lab analyzes evidence, including bodies and blood and semen and all types of things, to determine
the cause of death and who did what,” Owens said. “We have to figure out a way for the major crimes, the murders, the rapes to be resolved. And right now, we have a significant backlog at the state medical examiner’s office.” “That’s a significant issue that we really can’t resolve without the state looking into the backlog and making sure that they increase their capacity to give autopsy reports back, because that’s generally how you are able to prosecute the violent crime, by having the information you need to take something to trial and move on from there,” the Hinds DA added. In January, Owens outlined how the problem at the State Crime Lab has increased in the last few years. “Before last year (2020), we had 88 autopsies that were outstanding before the Mississippi State Crime Lab,” he told reporters. “And, you know, we had 137 murders in our county last year.” Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba discussed the problems at the State Crime Lab at the July 20 Jackson City Council Meeting after Jackson Police Department Chief James Davis talked about the lab’s slow pace of producing results. The mayor said he recently discussed the problem with Mississippi State Department of Public Safety Commissioner Sean Tindell. “They haven’t opined what the plan is moving forward,” the mayor said and explained that the difficulty is not just about being short-staffed, but the staff also have to move across the state to testify at different courts. “So they’re often having to leave the process of doing an autopsy to go and testify in court based on what their findings were,” Lumumba added. “The only solution I would imagine is getting more physicians that can do the evaluations.” Ward 3 Councilman Kenneth Stokes said constituents have to delay burial plans because the bodies stay at the crime lab for many months. “Lots of people have been trying to have funerals cannot have funerals because of the state (crime lab) situation,” he said. State Public Defender De Gruy said that the problem at the State Crime Lab is felt statewide and suggested ways to expedite the process by performing depositions with the medical examiner in the office. “There are people who say, well, that that’s not necessarily going to move it forward because then they’re going to still want to call the person if the case goes to trial,” De Gruy said. “But the truth is most cases don’t go to trial; most cases end in a plea.” The idea with doing depositions is to advance the case to get a deal sooner, he noted. “There may be some other things more BROKEN SYSTEM, p 12
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emailed statement to the Jackson Free Press that “MSH Forensic Services provides outpatient and inpatient psychiatric evaluations for pre-trial defendants and post-conviction appellants referred by the circuit courts. It also provides extended evaluation and comprehensive treatment for non-competent defendants and insanity acquittees.” MSH avers that the wait time for an initial evaluation is 40 days beginning from the day that the hospital gets the order “and minimal background information.” The statement said that those in need of inpatient beds at the hospital wait longer. “We are currently conducting some evaluations by telehealth, and some evaluations are being conducted by independent contractors, so not all evaluations are done here at the hospital,” the statement continues. “MSH Forensic Services has in recent years significantly reduced wait times for services including initial competency evaluations and inpatient evaluations and competency restoration.” MSH says the number of individuals awaiting evaluations fell from 140 in 2016 to 88 in December 2020. The “bed capacity for Forensic Services was increased from 35 beds in 2016 to 56 in 2019, and a project has been approved that will create additional beds,” the statement promised.
that the Department of Public Safety and the medical examiner’s office can do to get the evidence back to the lawyers faster so they can move these cases faster,” De Gruy added. “That seems to be a problem we’re seeing across the state (where a) case can’t go anywhere because it’s a homicide case. They have to prove (the) cause and manner of death, and they don’t have a medical examiner’s report.” De Gruy said it is a mystery to him why the state medical examiner’s office does not quickly create reports to speed up the persecution process. “I don’t understand exactly why the medical examiner is so far behind on producing reports in the first place. I don’t know if they don’t have enough doctors or why they don’t have enough doctors,” he said. The 2021 House Bill 974 that Gov. Tate Reeves signed in March targeted the operations of the state medical examiner’s office, apparently to remedy the problems of getting speedy reports. It established the position of medical examiner investigators, who will be nonphysicians appointed and trained by the chief medical examiner and who “assist with the certification of deaths affecting the public interest.” They are authorized to assist with performing and completing autopsies. Hinds County Deputy Public Defender Chris Routh said in an interview that his department has started seeing autopsies quicker since Dr. Mark LeVaughn left as the state medical examiner in January 2021. “We still do not have reports from some of the autopsies he performed,” Routh stated. “We are seeing reports much faster since he left.” “For a long time there, we just weren’t getting autopsies for months or two or three years sometimes,” he added. Quicker Evidence, Faster Trials Judge Green said that the process of getting evidence ready delays the adjudication of cases. “What takes a long time is getting all the evidence to exchange it with the defendant, to get an autopsy, if necessary, to get witnesses, statements, and the more serious the trial is, the longer it takes,” Green said in the Zoom interview. The deputy public defender, Routh, said there is a problem with speedily getting evidence to the defense from the district attorney’s office. “I think that, frankly, if the district attorney’s office indicts a case, they need to have all of the evidence ready to go and ready to send to the person’s defense lawyer so that we can provide them a speedy and effective defense,” he said. “If the State can’t get their case togeth-
er and go to trial within a reasonable time, it’s not fair for someone to have to sit in jail for years while that happens,” he added. “We’ve got a lot of extreme problems, just getting basic, what we refer to as discovery, just like the basic evidence that the State says they have against people. They (district attorney’s office) almost never give that to us when they’re supposed to.” The senior circuit judge said that many times there’s not a good evaluation
that municipal or city clerks will begin to forward the paperwork to the Circuit Clerk.” She also mentioned the need for a timely transfer of “Initial Appearance Orders and Preliminary Hearing orders to the District Attorney and the County’s Circuit Clerk, Zack Wallace.” The senior judge said better case screening at the level of the police and even the district attorney before charging and indicting is vital, and she pushed back against stephen wilson
September 1 - 28, 2021 • jfp.ms
Lost in a Broken System, from page 11
Hinds County Circuit Judge Faye Peterson appointed attorney Malcolm O. Harrison (pictured) as Justin Mosley’s counsel in February 2021. Harrison said Mosley did not show any sign of hopelessness before officials found him hanging in Hinds County Detention Center in April, after being held 16 months for murder charges without going to trial.
to determine whether a case should not be a felony but a misdemeanor, and therefore never indicted. “And sometimes it just takes longer; like right now we are about two years behind in autopsies,” Green said. “If there is a death, we’ve got a problem of there not being available examiners.” She said that the judicial process starts with law enforcement officials, who make arrests and charge offenses and then need to send cases to the DA. “Sometimes I’ll have people in jail, and the DA doesn’t even know they are there because the municipalities have not sent the cases to them,” the senior judge said. “And when I sent them a show-cause (letter for them to state) why this person is down there, it’s 120 days, and they say that sometimes it is the first time they’re seeing (the case). We have a couple of cities that won’t send them to the DA, and they should be transferred over.” Green did not name those cities but said via email on Aug. 27 that “we hope
the practice of “over arrest” or “overcharge” to “make the public feel good.” “We should have the evidence, and if you’ve got the evidence, it shouldn’t be a problem,” Green said. “But we’ve a lot of problems with evidence—whether it is sufficient to convict someone.” She said the prosecution should not wait until the case gets to the judges for screening, and then arrest based on a crime they have committed, not just to keep people in jail and off the streets. “Let me give you an example,” she said. “You’ll have three teenagers and they are all caught in the car, the police officer pulls them over, they get (a radio information) that a murder has been committed and they described three black males in one car.” The police charges the three with murder and indicted. “And sometimes it’s two years into discovery, and we realize we have only one shooter and he went back and picked up these two guys, and they ended up in the
car with him,” she added. “If there’s an assessment by a DA of the cases before it gets to a grand jury, they may find out that two of the cases should have been misdemeanors, but again, our jail starts filling up because we keep indicting individuals.” Green criticized over-indicting. “It may be a manslaughter or a self-defense, (but) we are going to get (the suspect) indicted for murder, so we can plead it down, we can offer a better plea deal when we knew in the beginning that that’s all it was—manslaughter or self-defense, she said. “But for the defendant that gets caught up in that, he’s sitting in jail if the bond is high, and he can’t move forward.” Paying Public Defenders More The senior judge said that assistant county public defenders should be paid better to guard against high staff turnover, which sets back defendants’ cases as a new defense attorney has to start again. She indicated that Hinds County has a full staff of public defenders, but they do not get the same salary as assistant district attorneys. The state government funds the district attorney’s office while the counties fund the public defendant’s office. “And every time a lawyer leaves, the new lawyer coming in has to start the whole case all over again, and that backs up the docket,” Green added. The Mississippi constitution provides that assistant DAs get $15,000 per year and up to 90% of the salary of the DA ($125,900), based on experience. It says that the county board of supervisors sets the public defender’s salary, which should not be less than the district attorney’s. It says nothing about assistant public defenders’ salaries, however. “We need to have more public defenders that are paid comparably with the DA,” Green said. “If someone leaves the public defender’s office and goes right across to the DA’s office, they get an increase. So I do not really understand why they couldn’t have been paid well to represent the defendants charged with a crime.” Deputy Public Defender Routh said that when the county employed him six years ago, his salary was $40,000 lower than a colleague employed at the same time at the district attorney’s office, even though he had a year more than her experience. “There is and has been for a long time, if not always, a great disparity in the salaries,” he said in the phone interview. “It’s not just Hinds County, it’s a systemic problem, certainly in all of Mississippi, if not the country, where the services of public defenders are not valued the same as equally qualified district attorneys.”
more support to be able to prosecute cases more fully. A few hundred thousand dollars would go a long way in helping us solve and prosecute the crimes that are happening in Jackson.” Stuck in the System Late Sheriff Lee Vance said a detainee should not have to be in detention for more than one year. “Some of the resources that are needed are not in line with how many people are somewhat stuck in the system pre-trial,” he told the Jackson Free Press weeks before he died. “That’s definitely a big problem because that leads to people being housed in our facility for a lot longer than they should be.” “Our responsibility is to house indi-
Mississippi Public Defender André de Gruy points to the need to effectuate better evidence gathering and speed up cases in Hinds County. He pushes back on several of the reasons county officials give for the trial delays.
it over to the state,” Brown added. “A lot of the crimes that are committed, like homicide and things like that, or a lot of the drug tests, we would send that information to the State Crime Lab for transparency,” Brown added. Owens argued for more support for his office by the City of Jackson in the July interview. “The police departments are functioning at all-time lows and have more crime. And we know that we know there’s a police shortage as such the quality of what we can get from those departments has diminished just sheerly because of capacity,” the district attorney said. “They got some great people over there working really hard, and we appreciate the brave jobs they do, but we need
viduals really indefinitely under the set of circumstances that we’re dealing with now,” the late sheriff added. “In a perfect system or at least an improved system, you could probably predict somebody may be down there (at the detention center) a year or so before they go to trial. But, circumstances get in the way of that, and so we end up being the place where these folks pretty much get stuck.” Based on documentation Undersheriff Alan White provided to the Jackson Free Press, 301 people in Hinds County Detention Centers on July 2 have spent up to six months there. Ninety seven have spent between six months and one year, 65 between one and two years, 29 between two and three years, 15 between three and four
years, and 14 people have spent over four years behind bars. One hundred and seventy-three inmates have spent more than 90 days in jail post-indictment, 32 between 45 and 90 days post-indictment, 121 have spent over 90 days without being indicted, and 46 have spent between 45 and 90 days in detention without being indicted. One of the Hinds County detainees, whom Sheriff Vance did not name, has been in the Hinds County Detention Center for eight years and has been to the Mississippi State Hospital several times. Health officials have not declared him competent to stand trial. “So until he could stand trial, we are kind of stuck with him,” Assistant Warden Crain said. Bond Denial, A Problem Routh disputes that mental-health evaluation needs swell up the jail, contending that the court slaps a high or no bail on defendants for no good reason. “The problems that the jail itself is having are all compounded, if not made by the lengths of pretrial detention,” he said. “It’s the refusal to give bond in a lot of these cases where warranted.” “And it has gotten better with the state hospital about getting those mental evaluations done in a timely manner.” Routh said the lag in discovery and lack of autopsy report and bond denial bogged down Justin Mosley’s case and prolonged his stay in detention. “Mr. Mosley sat in a lengthy pretrial detention,” he said. “He was denied bond at least once.” The law provides that everyone accused of a crime is entitled to bond, and Routh protested the rationale for denying Mosley a bond. “The real key issue to me is that he wasn’t given bond. And everyone likes to get all up in arms and complain about people being dangerous to the community. But the fact of the matter is everyone charged with a crime is entitled to bond; they’re entitled to pretrial release,” he said. “Pretrial detention should be the exception, not the rule, and we asked the court to give (Mosley) a bond which he’s constitutionally entitled to, and then they denied it,” Routh added. “When his next attorney, Mr. Harrison, made the same request for a bond, Mr. Mosley took his life before the court even ruled on the bond issue.” “But you know,” Routh said, “if Mr. Mosley had been out on bond, this (hanging in a detention cell) wouldn’t have been an issue for him.” Email story tips to city/county reporter Kayode Crown at kayode@jacksonfreepress. com. Follow Kayode on Twitter for breaking news at @kayodecrown.
September 1 - 28, 2021 • boomjackson.com
deed getting increasingly difficult because of delays at the State Crime Lab. He, however, noted that the City of Jackson, which District Attorney Owens said is responsible for 85% of the crime prosecuted in Hinds County, has its own crime lab. However, Jackson Police Department spokesman Sam Brown said in a phone interview that “80% to 90%” of the evidence collected goes to the State Crime Lab. “We have a mobile crime lab that goes out and gathers the evidence and processes them; any test that needs to be done, they will go over to the state,” he said. “Depending on what the situation is, that could be anything from a second opinion or a more definitive answer or analysis, something like that so that they would send
“It keeps us from both getting and keeping really qualified folks to come work for us,” Routh added. “It’s never a good situation where someone has to have a new lawyer every few months or whatever because those lawyers can’t afford to stay working at the public defender’s office.” The public defender argued that because the U.S. Constitution requires people to have a defense counsel for crimes and there is no such requirement for district attorneys, they deserve better. “So why are we paying the people who are doing the job that’s mandated by the Constitution less than we are the prosecutor?” he asked. “We can’t keep folks other than folks who are either independently wealthy or dedicated to representing people to the point where sometimes it makes us poor,” he added. “It’s just kind of fundamentally unfair, and there’s no reason for it.” Right to A Speedy Trial State Public Defender De Gruy said there are various reasons why cases delay getting to trial, but added that taking up to one year maximum may be a sufficient goal at this point. “The Mississippi Supreme Court has said a person should be brought to trial in eight months,” he said in the phone interview. “And then we have a 270-day rule, which starts with arraignment, which is not until after indictment.” Owens said in May to the Jackson City Council that Hinds County is not having speedy trials. “And we know best practices is that from arrest to conviction has to be a year. Here in Hinds County, we’re close to about two and a half to three years. That means we’re not solving crimes fast enough,” the DA said. “I need help. I have more than 3,000 cases in my office. I have 12 (attorneys handling) 3,000 cases.” The Legislature funded two assistant district attorney positions for one year in the last legislative session (20202021) as a partial remedy to the situation. While diverting hundreds from jail and their cases being dropped in exchange for a commitment to different diversion programs can help, another practice leads to an increase in inmates, Owens explained to the city council. “Now, in (our) administration, if someone commits a crime (when) they’re out on bond, and that crime is punishable by more than five years and a day, we immediately move to revoke their bond,” he said. “Then they won’t be eligible for a bond until the case is resolved. But that’s the whole balloon effect, which would put too many people in the sheriff’s jail.” De Gruy told the Jackson Free Press that getting homicide cases resolved is in-
BEST OF JACKSON // Legal Services
Best of Jackson: Legal Services 2021
by Taylor McKay Hathorn s this last year and a half has shown, life can be unpredictable. When circumstances lead you to require legal assistance, though, the Jackson Free Press does its part to make the road to your goals a little easier to navigate through our Best of Jackson: Legal pop-up ballot. Below, we have listed the winners and finalists of this year’s awards, as voted by you.
Best Personal Injury Attorney; Best Local Law Firm: Richard Schwartz, Richard Schwartz & Associates
Best Bankruptcy Attorney: Kimberly S. Sweeney-Oviasogie
(162 E. Amite St., 601-859-0696, 1call.ms
(The Law Office of Kimberly S. Sweeney, 360 Comet Drive, Suite F2, 769-823-3733, sweeneylawoffice.net)
Best Personal Injury Attorney Finalists: Adam D. Woods (Woods Law Firm, 202 E. Government St., Brandon, 601-706-9757, adamwoodslaw.com) / Darryl M. Gibbs (Chhabra & Gibbs, 120 N. Congress St., Suite 200, 601-948-8005, cglawms.com) / Matt Burch (Burch Law Firm, 405 Tombigbee St., 601-7900175, burchlawfirmpllc.com) / Ray L. Gustavis (Chhabra & Gibbs, 120 N. Congress St., Suite 200, 601-948-8005, cglawms.com) / Rocky Wilkins (Morgan & Morgan, 4450 Old Canton Road, Suite 200, 601-949-3388, forthepeople.com) / Rogen K. Chhabra (Chhabra & Gibbs, 120 N. Congress St., Suite 200, 601-948-8005, cglawms.com) Best Local Law Firm Finalists: Chhabra & Gibbs (120 N. Congress St., Suite 200, 601-948-8005, cglawms. com) / Donahoo Law Firm (732 Magnolia St., Madison, 601-213-0883, donahoolawfirm.com) / Kyle Wynn & Associates (7720 Old Canton Road, Suite B, Madison; 800-839-7857 or 601-978-1700; kylewynn.com) / The Rollins Law Firm (multiple locations, 601-533-1672, therollinsfirm.com)
Between her pair of law practices in Gulfport and Jackson, Kimberly Sweeney-Oviasogie is well-acquainted with the world of bankruptcy law, which she says is rife with those taking a focus on “immediate relief.” Her firm, however, tries a different approach. “We care about the aftermath of what happens to our clients,” she says. “We focus on how not to end up back in the same situation, and we provide education on how to make better decisions.” To accomplish this goal of preventing her bankruptcy clients from returning to her practice to file a second time, Sweeney-Oviasogie prioritizes making efforts to get to know her clients more personally. “A lot of bankruptcy law is about the numbers, but I’m interested in the personality of the client and how the numbers got to where they are,” she states. “Most people think they were either irresponsible or took on unnecessary debt, but they may have gotten (to this point) because of health struggles or life changes. Some people need to start completely over, and they need to talk to someone to put them at ease.”
courtesy Kimberly S. Sweeney-Oviasogie
courtesy Richard Schwartz & Associates
Richard Schwartz’ “one call, that’s all” slogan has become a household jingle in Mississippi, but Schwartz insists that his firm’s relationship with clients reaches far deeper than a memorable catchphrase. “I want every client to know that they’re now part of a bigger family, the Schwartz family,” he says. That “Schwartz family” now comprises more than 130 staff members, who Schwartz says prioritize their communities through their work with local charities, such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Mississippi and the Mississippi Food Network. “I encourage people to participate in charitable events, and I pay them to participate in charitable events during working hours,” Schwartz remarks. “My firm is set up to help people, and they know we make a difference.” For the last three decades, Richard Schwartz and Associates has expanded its flagship practice in Jackson to assist those in need across the state. “I was raised in Jackson, and I’ve been a supporter of the whole state for as long as I can remember,” Schwartz says. “It’s everyone’s responsibility to do the right thing as a Mississippian to help move the state forward. … I’m very proud that we are one of the law firms that give back to the community.”
Finalists: Eileen Shaffer (401 E. Capitol St., Suite 316, 601-969-3006) / Frank Coxwell (Coxwell Attorneys, 1675 Lakeland Drive, 601-948-4450, mississippibankruptcyhelp.com) / Joe Tatum (Tatum and Wade, 124 E. Amite St., 601-948-7770, tatumandwadepllc.com) / T.C. Rollins (The Rollins Law Firm, multiple locations, 601-533-1672, therollinsfirm.com) / Wes Stover (The Law Offices of Wes Stover, 403 State St., 601-949-5000, wesstover.com)
Best Tax Attorney: Ashley N. Wicks
During Ashley Wicks’s tenure as president of the Magnolia Bar Association, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was murdered in Florida, defining Wicks’ leadership of the group of Black attorneys, who began serving their communities with renewed energy. “We did expungement clinics, and we held different types of town halls to make sure that people understood what their rights were,” Wicks recalls. “It was a really good experience.” Wicks’ journey to the top of her field was a long one, as she first earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting from Jackson State University before later passing the exam to become a certified public accountant. “I always had an interest in law, though,” Wicks says of her eventual pathway to her present profession, which she discovered through her work with
community development projects in law school. Now an attorney at Butler Snow, Wicks calls her work “community-centric,” as she and her firm work to create jobs, provide safe learning environments for students, and partner with food banks to improve life for citizens across the Jackson metropolitan area. Finalists: Alexis Farmer (Farmer Law Office, 601-706-9346) / Charles Goldberg (Baker Donelson, 100 Vision Drive, Suite 400, 601-351-2400) / Dustin Jeffords (Capital Preservation Services; 213 Katherine Drive, Suite A, Flowood; cpsllcms.com) / R. David Marchetti (Wells Marble & Hurst; 300 Concourse Blvd., Suite 200, Ridgeland; 601-605-6900; wellsmarble.com)
courtesy Ashley N. Wicks
September 1 - 28, 2021 • jfp.ms
((Butler Snow; 1020 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite 1400, Ridgeland; 601-948-5711; butlersnow.com)
Teresa Harvey’s initial foray into the legal world was in estate law, and although she says that she’s “strayed” a few times over her 20 years in practice, she’s always returned to the field. “I really like doing it. You get to help people more than you do in other types of litigation,” she asserts. Clients who have experienced the death of a loved one may find this claim especially true, as estate law often deals with property, assets and funds that are left behind when someone passes away. “It’s good to help them through that process,” Harvey remarks, noting that she always tries to keep sight of the fact that her clients are often grieving. As evidence of the dedication and commitment Harvey places into each case, this year marks the fourth time that Harvey has taken home a “Best of Jackson” title, which she called a “huge honor” when she learned she was finalist. “It means my clients appreciate the work I have done and continue to do for them,” she says.
When Raynetra “Ray” Gustavis was young, her family persistently predicted that she would become a lawyer. Gustavis refuted those claims at every turn, attending the Mississippi School of the Arts before majoring in music at Jackson State University. Eventually, though, Gustavis says her dreams of becoming a singer fizzled out. “It takes so much of you to do that,” she remarks. “I wanted to transition to something I loved to do but didn’t have to do.” Law seemed to be the perfect fit for such a career change, and the Hazlehurst native says that her upbringing and her community’s early dreams of her “someday” law career inspires the work she now does daily at Chhabra and Gibbs. “Practicing law in Mississippi is 100% about knowing the people,” Gustavis reflects. Finalists: Darryl M. Gibbs (Chhabra & Gibbs, 120 N. Congress St., Suite 200, 601-9488005, cglawms.com) / Dorsey Carson (The Carson Law Group, 125 S. Congress St., Suite 1336, 601-351-9831, thecarsonlawgroup.com) / Price Donahoo (Donahoo Law Firm, 732 Magnolia St., Madison, 601-213-0883, donahoolawfirm.com) / R. Kelly Kyle (Kyle Wynn & Associates; 7720 Old Canton Road, Suite B, Madison; 800-839-7857 or 601-978-1700; kyle-wynn.com) / Richard Schwartz (Richard Schwartz & Associates, 162 E. Amite St., 601-859-0696, 1call.ms) / T.C. Rollins (The Rollins Law Firm, multiple locations, 601-533-1672, therollinsfirm.com) / Rogen K. Chhabra (Chhabra & Gibbs, 120 N. Congress St., Suite 200, 601-948-8005, cglawms.com)
Please help us congratulate Rocky Wilkins for being named a finalist.
Thank You for Voting Us Finalists
Best Personal Injury Lawyer
Dorsey Carson Best Local Lawyer
Thank you! 601-949-3388 | 4450 Old Canton Rd, Suite 200, Jackson, MS 39211
Lindsay Roberts and David Humphreys Best Business Attorney
Construction . Business . Intellectual Property . Litigation
601-351-9831 . www.thecarsonlawgroup.com
September 1 - 28, 2021 • boomjackson.com
Finalists: Dustin Jeffords (Capital Preservation Services; 213 Katherine Drive, Suite A, Flowood; cpsllcms.com) / Price Donahoo (Donahoo Law Firm, 732 Magnolia St., Madison, 601-213-0883, donahoolawfirm.com) / R. Kelly Kyle (Kyle Wynn & Associates; 7720 Old Canton Road, Suite B, Madison; 800-839-7857 or 601-978-1700; kyle-wynn.com) / Ronnie Morton (Morton Law Firm, 402 E. Main St., Clinton, 601925-9797, mortonelderlaw.com) Samantha R. Moore (Butler Snow; 1020 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite 1400, Ridgeland; 601-948-5711; butlersnow.com)
courtesy Raynetra L. Gustavis
Best Local Lawyer: Raynetra L. Gustavis (Chhabra & Gibbs, 120 N. Congress St., Suite 200, 601-948-8005, cglawms.com)
courtesy Teresa E. Harvey
Best Estate Planning Attorney: Teresa E. Harvey (Chhabra & Gibbs, 120 N. Congress St., Suite 200, 601-948-8005, cglawms.com)
BEST OF JACKSON // Legal Services
(Sweet & Associates, 158 E. Pascagoula St., 601965-8700, sweetandassociates.net)
Matthew Thompson left quite the impression on his professors at the Mississippi College School of Law, as they invited him to teach at the college when a position became available in 2013. “My name was the name in common on everybody’s list,” Thompson recalls. He believes that his now-colleagues’ belief in him has paid dividends, saying that it’s rewarding to work with young legal scholars. “They all want to be lawyers, and they’re all professionals,” Thompson states. “I end up becoming close with some of them.” When he isn’t teaching classes to second- and third-year law students or working at his practice, Thompson donates his time to the Mississippi Center for Legal Services and the Volunteer Lawyers project, where he previously served as a board member. “A lot of their clients want or need divorces, so we do that for low-income families who otherwise couldn’t afford a lawyer,” he says. Thompson procures these pro-bono attorneys, soliciting services from his fellow Bar members and training them on family law.
When Dennis Sweet was growing up in Jackson, he always admired the man who lived two houses down: Medgar Evers, who would be gunned down in his carport when Sweet was only 8 years old. “Mr. Evers made it known how important it was for African Americans to become attorneys,” Sweet recalls. “That helped inspire me. He was a great man.” Never forgetting his mentor’s lessons, Sweet worked for the public defenders’ office in Washington, D.C., and for the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., before his sister persuaded him to move back to the Magnolia State. “It was home,” Sweet says of his ultimate return. “I started practicing and never left.” Sweet hopes that the work he’s done since moving back to the area will inspire local youth, whom he hopes will take notice of his steadfast care for underserved communities in Jackson. “They see me on TV,” Sweet reflects. “They see an African American man going in and defending people, and I think that’s good, as a role model.” Finalists: Darryl M. Gibbs (Chhabra & Gibbs, 120 N. Congress St., Suite 200, 601-9488005, cglawms.com) / Marshall J. Goff (Chhabra & Gibbs, 120 N. Congress St., Suite 200, 601-948-8005, cglawms.com) / Rogen K. Chhabra (Chhabra & Gibbs, 120 N. Congress St., Suite 200, 601-948-8005, cglawms.com)
Best Business and Start-Up Attorney: Lindsay K. Roberts (The Carson Law Group, 125 S. Congress St., Suite 1336, 601-351-9831, thecarsonlawgroup.com)
Finalists: Jay Cooke (1437 Old Square Road, Suite 106, 601-981-1912) / Johanna L. Jumper (Bradley Arant Boult Cummings, 188 E. Capitol St., Suite 450, 601-948-8000, bradley.com) / R. Cratin Luckett Jr. (Luckett Land Title Inc; 10 Lakeland Circle, 601-4144141; 217 Commerce Drive, Brandon, 601-414-0114; 2084 Main St., Suite 100, Madison, 601-898-2107; landclosings.com) / R. Kelly Kyle (Kyle Wynn & Associates; 7720 Old Canton Road, Suite B, Madison; 800-839-7857 or 601-978-1700; kyle-wynn.com)
During her time as a student at the Mississippi College School of Law, Lindsay K. Roberts presented oral arguments to a group of justices from across the country as part of Mississippi’s bicentennial celebration. One of the justices in attendance was Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but it was incredibly intimidating,” Roberts says of her brush with the highest court in the land. “One of the things I took away from the experience is that (Justice Roberts) wasn’t arrogant about his position. He was gracious and kind, and it taught me a lot about humility.” Roberts took that lesson with her into the world of business law, where she says she sees companies at either their lowest or their highest points. “We see them when they’re creating a deal with a new company or when a deal has gone wrong, so they need help,” Roberts reflects. “Businesses are made up of people, and they’re people’s livelihoods.” Small businesses make up a large portion of her clientele, and Roberts says that supporting them and helping them maintain their livelihoods is especially meaningful and rewarding for her. Finalists: David Humphreys (The Carson Law Group, 125 S. Congress St., Suite 1336, 601-351-9831, thecarsonlawgroup.com) / Paul Rogers (567-B, 2600, Highway 51, Ridgeland; 601-969-7777; paulerogers.com) / Price Donahoo (Donahoo Law Firm, 732 Magnolia St., Madison, 601-213-0883, donahoolawfirm.com)
The Carson Law Group
Best Real Estate Attorney: Shannon Elliott (Elliott Law Firm; 2151 Highway 18, Brandon, 601-591-2713; 742 Magnolia St., Suite D, Madison, 601-499-0460; 115 Laurel Park Cove, Flowood, 601-487-4400; elliottlawfirmpllc.com) Elliott Law Firm
September 1 - 28, 2021 • jfp.ms
Finalists: Debbie Allen (Allen & Conway, 812 N. President St., 601-353-0001, allenandconway.com) / Jeremy McNinch (McNinch Law Firm; 503 Avalon Way, Suite A, Brandon; 601-519-4692; mcninchlaw.com) / Teresa E. Harvey (Chhabra & Gibbs, 120 N. Congress St., Suite 200, 601-948-8005, cglawms.com)
After stepping away from the legal profession for a year to raise her first child, Shannon Sojourner Elliot re-entered the field in grand style, opening Elliott Law Firm in Brandon with her husband, John. While Elliott initially planned to work only part-time, the fast-paced world of commercial and residential real estate beckoned her to come back on board full-time. Over the next 17 years, Elliott would open two more offices, one in Madison and another in Flowood. Together, the three firms employ four attorneys and a support staff of 20 to manage clients’ legal needs for real-estate transactions, including mortgages, title documents and purchase agreements, in addition to closings. Hometown Magazines named her as the best attorney in Rankin County two years in a row, recognizing her for her dedication to the field. MidSouth Super Lawyers also recognized Elliott as a “rising star” in 2011.
Best Defense Attorney: Dennis C. Sweet III
(Thompson Addison, 2060 Main St., Madison, 601850-8000, thompsonaddison.com) courtesy Matthew Thompson
Best Family Law Attorney: Matthew Thompson
R. Kelly Kyle and Elizabeth L. Wynn thank you for your nominations.
R. Kelly Kyle
Wes Stover 601.949.5000 firstname.lastname@example.org
Kyle-Wynn and Associates Best Local Law Firm
7720 Old Canton Road, Ste. B Madison MS 39110 Free Background Information Available on Request
September 1 - 28, 2021 • boomjackson.com
Thank you to all of our clients, family and friends who voted for Wes Stover as Best Bankruptcy Attorney in Jackson 2021.
Best Real Estate Attorney Best Local Lawyer Best Estate Planning Attorney
Good Things from the JFP team dd To
Whenever the Jackson Free Press holds a staff meeting, we all love to start by stating something good that has happened to us since we last spoke on Zoom. This year, the JFP celebrates 19 years of serving the Jackson community. The last 365 days have been unconventional to say the least, but as we enter year 20, the JFP staff decided we would love to remain positive and share our “something good”s of the last year with our readership.
Stauffe r te Schumann a N
h at e P ub l i s
Over the last year, I proposed to my girlfriend—who said yes!— and have started a semi-regular board-game night with a small group of friends in the area. I’ve also made a huge dent in my collection of unintentionally unread books, which is satisfying.
I’m really grateful that I had time to cook more. Cooking is something I love, but prior to the pandemic I didn’t have a lot of time to do it. This last year gave me space to explore new recipes and new techniques.
roe Head ont d M
y Mon cu rtne u r o
September 1 - 28, 2021 • jfp.ms
erly Griffi mb i n K
stin Cardon u D
ch e Pri ard Mo n n
Being grateful daily helped me get through the pandemic with good spirits despite challenges and heartbreak. After health of my loved ones, I’m perhaps most grateful that the JFP survived our 19th year in business during a pandemic without a single layoff. As I largely moved on from the JFP to co-found the nonprofit Mississippi Free Press with Kimberly Griffin, I’m so proud of this team and look forward to what the future holds for us all as we grow journalism on behalf of all Mississippians. I’m also grateful for pandemic kittens that showed up in our home office. It’s the big things, and the little things, you know.
d Jacks on E
b D esigner
id re s
o ing Edit
It’s been a tough year, to put it lightly, but the most remarkable thing that I’ve seen through COVID has been the resilience of our amazing team and the willingness of these great people to work hard from home, be incredibly accountable, and creatively tackle the problems we’ve faced from shutdowns and other economic challenges. Cheers to the JFP staff for getting us to the beginning of our 20th year!
nna Ladd Do
om d JF P D a i l y. c
I’m happy that both of my parents were OK after getting over COVID and that we’re all vaccinated and healthy now. I’m glad everyone I know has made it through this OK so far.
an Mills Juli
yode Crown a K
y Re p o r t e r
A fond memory is going to the Gulf Coast and walking along the beach of the Gulf of Mexico.
t i n g Fe l l o
ber White Am
I’ve been able to enjoy a lot of home-cooked meals this year.
ye Smith Sha Steere Ken
tion Co or
pha Young l i Z
My husband made a job change this year that resulted in a more family-friendly work schedule and less day-to-day stress for him, which makes both of us happier.
nt S p e cial
We started having daily family dance parties at home this year. Our 4-year-old creates the playlist and we move, dance, shake, jump and pretty much go into full-body silliness. Between the song choices and lack of dance skills, it is impossible not to laugh, and when you’re laughing, you are feeling good! It has been extremely liberating and a huge mood booster—plus, it gives us a chance to move our bodies and shake out the stressors of the day.
an Flynn Bry
I’m enjoying success in my professional life. I was able to take my daughter to the beach this summer, and for my birthday she gave me a Florida Gators spatula.
y Parks Rub
t r i b ut i o n
Ch nne ampio o n Yv
D i re c t o r
I got really into Dungeons & Dragons and found a great group online. We play every week, and it’s been vital to my wellbeing amid the isolation and stress of the past 1.5 years. It’s a wonderful emotional outlet and helped me make friends around the world I never would have met otherwise.
t r i b ut i o n
die Williams d E
t r i b ut i o n
September 1 - 28, 2021 • boomjackson.com
JFP Staff Awards In addition to starting staff meetings on positive notes, we also strive to end them with another uplifting note: the presentation of the JFP Staff Awards! Pre-pandemic, we would use trophies we’d pass around and take turns decorating. Nowadays, because we work remotely and meetings are virtual, we use some fun animated graphics that our amazing design team created, depicted below as stills.
September 1 - 28, 2021 • jfp.ms
The Kick Ass Award reflects the passion of the JFP staffer who earns it in striving for excellence in all they do.
The Falcon Award goes to the team member the office staff most thinks has really rocked the house lately.
As suggested in the name, this award recognizes the recipient’s passion when interacting with our community.
Named for former Jackson Mayor Frank Melton, whose antics worked us hard, this award is for great and dogged reporting.
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arts & literature
JFP (to Turner): Can you give more on your artistic background? Turner: My dad, he was a comic collector. At 3 years old, he handed me Spider-Man and Batman (comics), and I was mainly hooked. I have artwork from when I was 4 or 5 drawing Spider-Man and Batman. My mom kept it. When I was in sixth or seventh grade, a kid from my class handed me
‘The Ripper Gene,’ a Serial Comic about Serial Killers in Mississippi
if somebody is born with alterations in their DNA that predispose them to violence or flights of behavior, then they are kinda at a disadvantage from birth when it comes to choosing good or evil. JFP: This book is set in Mississippi, which is a largely religious area. How much does religion play into that question of good and evil, nature versus nurture?
by Nate Schumann
courtesy Jason Turner
September 1 - 28, 2021 • jfp.ms
ason Turner has long made a name for himself in Jackson and the southeast region as a music artist who performs in venues all over with the Jason Turner Band. This year, the music artist has tapped into his passion for visual art to collaborate with Michael “Ted” Burczynski, pen name Michael Ransom, to create a serialized comic of the latter’s debut novel, “The Ripper Gene.” In the medical thriller, Burczynski uses his knowledge of cutting-edge genomics techniques to relay the story of Dr. Lucas Madden, a neurogeneticist-turned-FBI agent from Mississippi who applies a controversial genetic approach to behavioral profiling as he pursues the Snow White Killer in the Mississippi Delta following the disappearance of his former fiancée, which leads him to uncover a possible connection to the unsolved murder of the investigator’s own mother during his youth. Over the summer, the pair produced an 11-page, black-and-white issue #0, which covers the prologue portion of the novel, with canonical bonus scenes to highlight events previously not depicted in the original story. Turner grew up in Jackson, Miss., graduating from Forest Hill High School and enrolled in Hinds Community College in Raymond, first to study music before changing his major to graphic design. He lived in Nashville for a few years before returning to Mississippi around 10 years ago. A native of Corinth, Miss., Bercynzski graduated from Corinth High School and then went on to Mississippi College in Clinton, where he studied chemistry. His educational pursuits led him to later study English literature at University College London, creative writing at the University of Idaho, and finally the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, from which he graduated with his doctorate in pharmacology and toxicology. Both creatives, who each had shelvesstacked with statues of comic-book superheroes and other characters, behind them during the joint Zoom call, spoke with the Jackson Free Press about “The Ripper Gene” and their collaboration.
Burczynski: I am a pastor’s son, and in the novel you could argue that the protagonist is modeled after what I know. The protagonist, while an atheist at the onset of the novel, his father is a pastor, and they have a series of interactions and conversations comparing and contrasting a religious view of good and evil versus (Lucas’) more scientific view of good and evil. JFP: Can you elaborate on which aspects of the novel were inspired by experiences from your own life?
Music and graphic artist Jason Turner (left) poses with Travis Ryder, co-owner of Van’s Comics, Cards and Games in Ridgeland, Miss., which offers issue #0 of “The Ripper Gene,” a comic series based on a mystery novel of the same name.
Todd McFarlane’s “Spider-Man” and stuff from Jim Lee and Rob Liefield, who started Image Comics in the ’90s. From there, I became obsessed with drawing. It’s something I’ve wanted to do my whole life. For a while I compared myself to those (comic-art) greats, but then I finally realized many artists, particularly indie artists, are doing their own thing and not even worrying about these guys. I was like, “Okay, I have my own thing.” So, about 10 years ago, I started promoting and putting my art out, and I’ve had a really good response. JFP (to Burczynski): Can you tell me a bit about why you chose to set ‘The Ripper Gene’ in Mississippi, specifically? Burczynski: For one thing, it’s what I know, where I grew up. But the germ of the
novel—which is also in (issue #0), and Jason has done a beautiful job capturing it— is the prologue showing the background of the childhood of the main character. A similar incident without a fatal outcome happened to me as a kid one Halloween night in northern Mississippi. So I knew that was where the backstory took place. I knew that I knew Mississippi and New Orleans pretty well, so I decided to set the story there and be familiar and comfortable describing the setting down there. JFP: What intellectual ideas or themes do you present in the novel for your readers to ponder and think about? Burczynski: I think the theme throughout the book is really the origin of good and evil. Are serial killers made, or are they born? I was really intrigued by the idea that
Burczynski: I kind of stole my own thunder, but I’ll tell you a little bit of a funny story. In the prologue, there are some trickor-treaters going down a country road who come across some scary-looking fellows. Up to that point, that’s exactly what happened to me and a bunch of kids that were trick or treating with my mother and another lady in the car. My mother, however, is a no-nonsense lady. She stepped on the gas. The prologue plays into what could have happened if the lady stepped out. The rest is all very much fiction. JFP (to both): Can you tell me a bit about how you two became acquainted and how the idea of retelling “The Ripper Gene” as a serialized comic came about? Turner: Ted’s brother and me were best friends for 25 or so years. He was the first bass player I had. It was actually his idea to start the Jason Turner Band. He recently passed away in January. Ted knew I did comic-book art, so he reached out to me and said we should do this comic. For the lead character (Dr. Lucas Madden), I modeled the adult version after my friend Andy (Burczynski), Ted’s brother, and my brother, too, you know, the big brother I never had. So it is a special thing we are working on here creating this comic. Burczynski: To add to that, after Andy passed away, I’d realized in the back of my mind that I always hoped
courtsy Forge Books
Michael Ransom and Jason Turner created Snakefarm Comics to debut this comic series about serial killers.
Andy and I would collaborate on something like this. That wasn’t available anymore, but I thought to myself, “Jason is a talented artist.” I didn’t know if he was already pulled into a project, but I told him about “The Ripper Gene,” and he was interested, and I’m thrilled that he is the illustrator for this now.
JFP: The comic says that it is from Snakefarm Comics. Is Snakefarm something that you two created?
very cinematic, so I think with Jason’s illustrations, letting people see events unfold in a storyboard fashion is only going to help.
Turner: Andy’s (nick)name is Snakefarm. … (We knew) we needed to put out this prologue soon. I was working on the cover and just put Snakefarm Comics up there and asked Ted, “What do you think?”
Turner: To lead it back to Andy, we put this comic out ourselves, and my immediate thought at first was, “Oh man, we should send this to all these comic companies.” But I remembered that Andy was always into the idea of DIY, even with music when he used to tell me, “Man, you should just put out music yourself. You’ve got the internet now; you don’t need companies.” One day it just hit me in the car, and I texted Ted, “You know what, Andy always said ‘Do it yourself.’” So that’s where we went with this.
Burczynski: I loved it. To keep him part of this project, that’s the name for the company we’re coming up with here. It’ll be founded on the “Ripper Gene” serialization, but hopefully there will be other comics to come. One thing that’s really cool is that Jason and I are adding scenes that you don’t see in the novel but are canon. The novel is in first-person from the main characters’ perspective. Jason is already illustrating a scene (in issue #0) that isn’t shown in the novel because the young detective could not have seen this scene happen off-screen. It’s hard to predict how many issues it’ll take to cover all the events of “The Ripper Gene” because there’s a lot we’re going to put into the comic that wasn’t on-screen in the novel. I’ve always heard that everybody who reads (“The Ripper Gene” novel) thinks it’s
JFP: Is there anything else that either of you want to put out there before we close? Burczynski: It’s been really amazing for me as a writer to have written the novel and know what’s in my head about that night (the scene depicted in the prologue issue) and then to see how Jason portrays it, and he’s done so well. His artistic illustrations really match the tone and theme in my writing, so I think it’s a nice match between him and me.
Turner: Andy had told me for years that his brother was a scientist and that he had written a novel, but I never had a copy. So in getting it (in preparation of illustrating the comic) and reading just the prologue, I didn’t even get beyond that before I was like, “This is so cool.” Growing up and playing music in Mississippi, I have driven down nearly every Delta backroad in this state, so I could just see this scene of trees and bushes and these three kids in the middle of the road with blood on them. Now, drawing pages where this character resembles my friend and Ted’s brother, it just has a cool, thriller vibe, and it’s exciting to bring those things to life on the page. The first full-length, fully colored issue of “The Ripper Gene” (comic) releases Oct. 31, 2021. Copies will be available for purchase online at either jasonturnerband.com or michaelransombooks.com, and in-person at Van’s Comics, Cards & Games (731 S. Pear Orchard Road, Ridgeland). Issue #0 is available at Van’s and through contacting either creator on social media. The novelization is available through Ransom’s website or other online retailers. For updates on the comic, which the pair estimate may publish for up to 12 issues, find The Ripper Gene Comic on Facebook.
Bites & beverages
Jerk City Grille Represents Caribbean Cuisine in the Metro
fter years of working in the food industry, Ridgeland resident Wendell Brewster decided “it was time to invest in myself” and opened a food truck in April of this year. Just a handful of months later, Brewster expanded his business, Jerk City Grille, by establishing a physical restaurant on Robinson Road in Jackson. Growing up and spending much of his life in Augusta, Ga., Wendell moved to Mississippi in 2013 and joined Thompson Hospitality, a company that specializes in providing food service to HBCUs. In fact, Brewster served as executive chef for Mississippi Valley State University for three years in addition to a number of other positions with Thompson Hospitality, such as food service director and corporate chef. “I got a chance to see a lot of different things,” he says. “It sparked my interest in doing my own mobile food business. And then, with the pandemic happening, things sped up a little bit. It seemed like that was where the food train was going in the food industry.”
While studying the food scene in the Jackson area, Brewster noticed that Caribbean cuisine appeared to be underrepresented in the metro, and he felt that he could fill that niche. While his father was born in Barbados, his South Carolina-native mother is the one who taught Brewster how to cook, and she specialized in southern comfort. Thus, Brewster knew he had to become more familiar with Caribbean food if he wanted to succeed. “I started studying the ingredients, the methods, what makes it tick—took it all apart and put it back together and added my own little flair to it, which sparked Jerk City Grille,” he says. Public reception to Jerk City Grille’s food has encouraged Brewster and affirmed that his hard work has already begun to pay off. “It’s amazing. The Jackson public has really been loving us. They really been loving us,” he says. The Caribbean fusion restaurant fea-
Following the success of Jerk City Grille as a food truck, owner and chef Wendell Brewster opened a physical restaurant to sell his Caribbean food.
tures a sizable menu. “Everything we serve here is flavorful, different and exciting,” Brewster says. “Whether it’s our pasta, our oxtails or our marinated meats, you’ll be able to tell that all our ingredients are handled with care. We even have items I consider whimsical for a Caribbean restaurant, like our jerk wings, rice and egg roll combo.” In addition to Jerk City Grille’s food, Brewster also takes pride in the business’ beverage options. The chef crafted a signature lemonade recipe in 2005 that he sells at the
restaurant, and he has created other drinks that spawn from that concoction, such as passion fruit lemonade, mango lemonade, and a pineapple ginger beverage that is traditionally served with Caribbean cuisine. Currently, only the indoor location is open until Brewster hires and trains more staff members to man the food truck, which he hopes to get up and running again soon. Jerk City Grille (4157 Robinson Road) is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. For more information, call 601-9230102 or find the business on Facebook.
September 1 - 28, 2021 • boomjackson.com
by Richard Coupe
JSU Student Overcomes Personal Obstacles to Showcase Talent on ‘American Idol’
September 1 - 28, 2021 • jfp.ms
courtesy Deshawn Goncalves
he sun was beaming down on Deshawn Goncalves in the middle of marching band practice at Jackson State University when he got the call to audition for “American Idol.” “I got an Instagram DM from a casting producer, and they wanted me to come out and to do an audition,” he says. The Youngstown, Ohio, native had originally been scheduled to audition for “America’s Got Talent,” but the show ended up temporarily shut down due to the pandemic. “(‘Idol’) was a better fit for me anyway because I could still showcase my artistry with the piano, so it worked out perfectly,” says Goncalves, who began singing in the church choir under his grandmother’s direction at 4 years old. As Goncalves grew up, he developed a deep love for music. He began playing the trumpet in sixth grade, learned the piano in seventh grade, and joined the school’s drumline by eighth grade. His band director, a Jackson State alum, told Goncalves about the university’s famed Sonic Boom of the South. “The band that I was a part of in high school was based really heavily off Jackson State, so I just totally threw myself into the research behind Jackson State University and the Sonic Boom of the South,” Goncalves says. “I made my decision right then and there that I was going to Jackson State University.” Goncalves earned a full academic scholarship to JSU and is currently majoring in music technology and performance. He plays sousaphone for the award-winning Sonic Boom marching band. After that initial contact, he flew out to
by Torsheta Jackson
Deshawn Goncalves, who presently studies music technology and performance at Jackson State University, placed in the Top Nine of the 2020 season of “American Idol,” in spite of personal challenges. He is now recording a debut album with industry leaders and has several shows in the works.
Atlanta for the first audition for “American Idol,” then returned home to Ohio where he continued his classes online due to the pandemic. There, he went through a series of auditions on Zoom before performing the televised in-person audition that the world saw. Joined by his mother, Goncalves traveled to Los Angeles for the live audition where they, along with other participants, were isolated at a hotel. Being in the midst of other talents, the 20-year-old wondered if his artistry and talent would be received
and celebrated the way he intended. “I was surrounded by so many other singers. It was nerve-wracking in a sense because there were so many other talented people there as well,” he says. “Going into my audition, I just had to keep reminding myself to be myself and just do the best that I could, and it really worked out for me.” Goncalves faced personal challenges while filming the show. Amid the daily rehearsals, vocal coaching sessions and choreography practices, Gonclaves endured the loss of an aunt and a grandmother.
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The requirements of the show forced Goncalves to have limited time with his family in both cases, and the college student ultimately chose to not share his grief while the season was on-air. “It was a lot of emotional distress to say (aloud) while going through the show, and I never really shared that,” he says. “Although it was a part of my life, I didn’t want everyone to know everything.” A favorite among fans and judges, Goncalves belted melodic tones each week, mostly while seated at the piano, and he made it into Idol’s Top Nine before low voter turnout ended his run on the show. During his final performance on Disney night he sang “When you Wish Upon a Star ‘’ from the movie “Pinocchio,” and he then returned for the season finale where he sang “Sweet Thing” alongside 10-time Grammy Award-winning artist Chaka Khan. “I (now) know what’s possible for myself,” Goncalves says. “The fact that I got through those things while going through this show on this national stage was just amazing to me. It’s sort of been a recurring theme in my life—being dealt a hand that was very challenging and just having to toil through it the best that you can. I was just really proud of myself for just getting through everything that I did.” Since “American Idol,” Goncalves has been working with industry leaders to record his debut album, along with some Broadway appearances. He plans to release a single titled “Dreamer’s Anthem” in the near future and has several planned shows in the works. Follow Deshawn Goncalves on Instagram or Twitter at @deshawngmusic.
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The Chosen Productions to Film ‘Love Never Fails’ Pilot in Jackson courtesy Essence Odomes
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Essence Odomes, also known as Essence the Superstar, founded The Chosen Productions alongside her husband, Dezron Odomes. Together, they are working to produce “Love Never Fails,” a TV pilot modeled after Essence’s life.
They may hire a few people in Jackson for a few weeks while they are in production, but most of them are bringing in crews because we don’t have the workforce here,” Essence says. “(This) means when they yell ‘wrap,’ the city of Jackson is still left without the workforce and community of filmmakers here. It doesn’t really change what is happening in our city.” By starting a Jackson-based production company, the Odomes hope to give aspiring actors and other Mississippians pursuing careers in film and television a means of using their skills without needing to leave the state. “I always felt that there was so much talent here in Mississippi, and I felt so much frustration that I had to leave my family and the place that I know as home just to find opportunity,” Essence says. Since forming the company, the Odomes have begun producing a pilot for a television series titled “Love Never Fails.” Modeled after Essence’s life, the script tells the story of a Black teenager
growing up in Jackson, Miss., and struggling to find balance while pursuing her dreams and avoiding the pitfalls that she watches her own parents face. Approximately 60% of the cast and crew used for the pilot call the Jackson metropolitan area home. The power couple is also opening The Chosen Studios, an 8,000-square-foot facility on Northside Drive. Once complete, the space will feature a 5,000-squarefoot soundstage with equipment, production offices, and rooms for wardrobe, hair and makeup. Their goal is to create a onestop shop that can handle production from beginning to end, and they hope the first major production is their own. “If all goes well and as we plan, then there will be a major television series about Jackson, Miss., shooting in Jackson, Miss., over the next few years,” Essence concludes. To learn more about opportunities to become involved with The Chosen Productions, email Brand Manager Bianca Tatum at email@example.com.
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September 1 - 28, 2021 • boomjackson.com
t 15 years old, Jackson native Essence Odomes finagled her way into an acting class that actress, director and producer Tasha Smith hosted in Atlanta. Smith offered the teenager a piece of advice: move out of her home state. “She basically told me, ‘You are going to have to leave Mississippi if you want to (act) because there is nothing there,’” Odomes says. “So I spent the next couple years until graduation focusing on getting out of Mississippi.” Odomes performed in her first play at age 7 and later honed her acting and theatrical skills in Jackson Public Schools’ Academic and Performing Arts program. After high school, she attended Spelman College for a semester before moving to California to attend the University of California, Los Angeles. During a trip home, she met her nowhusband Dezron Odomes, who soon joined her at UCLA and majored in music business. Essence completed her bachelor’s degree in acting for film and television. However, the pre- and post-production classes she took intrigued her the most. “(Those courses) opened my eyes to the behind-the-scenes world that I never knew about,” she says. “I knew that if I could get a piece of the backend that I could then empower not only myself with the opportunities that I was looking for but I could also create them (for others) as well.” Essence and Dezron moved to Atlanta in 2013, where the former worked several production jobs, including on the seventh installment of the “Fast & Furious” franchise. These experiences opened doors for both to land positions at Tyler Perry Studios. The couple married in 2018. “We started working at Tyler Perry studios with the objective to one day soon do this type of work at home,” Essence says, and home they went, moving back to Mississippi in December 2020. The Odomes founded their own production company, The Chosen Entertainment and Media, now The Chosen Productions, with a mission of using and creating a trained workforce for film and entertainment in the area, fulfilling a need that they noticed while growing up in Mississippi. “Producers come from out of state and take advantage of our tax incentives.
by Torsheta Jackson
jacksonfreepress.com Daily updates at jfpevents.com
courtesy D’Artagnan Winford
Events Calendar Sept-Nov 2021
by Shaye Smith
Multimedia artist D’Artagnan Winford leads a live-video tour of his studio through via MMA’s socialmedia platforms.
ARTS PREVIEW Cypress & DJ Ang’s show begins 9 p.m. at Martin’s Downtown (214 S. State St.). The electronic and bass music producers from Jackson perform at the local bar and music venue. $10 admission, food and drink prices vary; find it on Facebook.
Sammy DaQuan’s show begins 6 p.m. at The Iron Horse Grill (320 W. Pearl St.). The local musician performs at the Jackson restaurant. Free admission, food and drink prices vary; theironhorsegrill.com.
Invisible Histories Project Community Mapping Activity begins 3 p.m. and is Virtual (Zoom). The Mississippi Museum of Art hosts the event featuring a community mapping activity with the Invisible Histories Project, which locates, preserves, researches and creates an accessible collection of the history of LGBTQ life in the southern United States. Limited space. Registration required. Zoom link provided at registration. Free; msmuseumart.org.
September 1 - 28, 2021, 2021 • jfp.ms
AT&T Presents Makers in Their Spaces with D’Artagnan Winford begins 10 a.m. and is Virtual (Instagram, Facebook & YouTube Live). The museum hosts the 2021 Mississippi Invitational artist and photographer as he takes viewers on a virtual tour of his studio. The program may be viewed on the museum’s Facebook or Instagram pages, or YouTube channel. Free; msmuseumart.org.
Lady Sings the Blues begins 7:30 p.m. at Duling Hall (622 Duling Ave.). Opera Mississippi presents Jackson jazz artist Rhonda Richmond and the Rhonda Richmond Quartet in the tribute concert celebrating the music of the legendary vocalist Billie Holiday. $30 advanced tickets, $35 at the door; operams.org.
afterward. $25 registration; raceroster.com.
Mississippi Science Fest is from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at LeFleur Museum District (Interstate 55 & Lakeland Drive). The Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, the Mississippi Agriculture & Forestry Museum, the Mississippi Children’s Museum, and the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame & Museum collaborate to host the STEMthemed festival featuring experts and noted guests from science-based industries across the state who provide hands-on educational experiences for children and families. Food vendors are on-site. $10 admission gives entry to all four museums; mssciencefest.org.
Black Jacket Symphony: Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” begins 8 p.m. at Thalia Mara Hall (255 E. Pascagoula St.). The band recreates Pink Floyd’s classic album “The Wall” in its entirety live on stage along with a complete stage show and an additional set of Pink Floyd’s greatest hits. Doors open at 7 p.m. No refunds. $25-$35 ticket; Eventbrite. Tommy Vext’s show begins 8 p.m. at Hal and Mal’s (200 Commerce St.). The heavy metal singer performs. Doors open at 7 p.m. Ages 18 and up, $5 upcharge for guests under age 21. $25 admission, food and drink prices vary; halandmals.com. richard sagredo ON unsplash. || marvin meyer ON unsplash
The Bean Path hosts tech-industry leaders Tory Hargro and Dr. Amber Johnson, who present on ways to enter and to succeed in the field.
Mississippi Wildlife Rehab specialists teach participants to build bluebird nesting boxes at the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science.
We’ve Got Milk 5k is from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Flowood Nature Trail (4077 Flowood Drive, Flowood). The Mother’s Milk Bank of Mississippi holds the ’90sthemed race, which starts and finishes at the Flowood Nature Park. Sisu Race Timing time the event. Online registration is available until 6 p.m. on Sept. 13. Check-in and walk-up registration for the run/walk will be from 7 a.m. to 7:45 a.m. on Sept. 18 at the Flowood Nature Park. The run begins at 8 a.m. The walk begins immediately
BrickUniverse LEGO Fan Festival is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Clyde Muse Center Hinds Community College (515 Country Place Parkway, Pearl). The convention for LEGO features LEGO creations from professional LEGO artists as well as handson activities, building zones, and vendors selling the latest LEGO products. Tickets are limited and must be purchased in advance. Tickets are not available for purchase at the door. Event is closed from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. each day. Additional date: Sept. 18. $15.99 advance ticket, children ages 2 years and younger get in free; brickuniverse.com
Tie Dye Workshop is from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Southern Cultural Heritage Foundation (1305 Adams St., Vicksburg). Artist and art teacher Daisy Anderson Tuminello leads the two-part workshop series teaching participants to make three unique tie dye designs. Each participant makes two tie dyed garments to take home. Space is limited and reservations are required. For reservations or more information call the SCHF at 601-631-2997 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional dates: Sept. 7, Sept. 9, Sept. 23. $65/ Class fee, includes two classes and supplies
for creating two tie dyed garments, find it on Facebook.
The 3 Doors Down with Seether show begins 7 p.m. at Brandon Amphitheater (8190 Rock Way, Brandon). The Mississippi-native band brings its “The Better Life 20th Anniversary Tour” to the Brandon music venue, with guest act Seether. Doors open 6:30 p.m. $20-$165 ticket, price varies by location; brandonamphitheater.com.
Symphony and Cicadas Gala begins 7:30 p.m. at The Reed House at Live Oaks (11200 Highway 29 N.). The Mississippi Symphony Orchestra and the Jackson Symphony League host the event featuring music, a cocktail dinner and a silent auction. Various sponsorship opportunities are available. $175 event ticket, $150 young patron event ticket, $375 event ticket with VIP lounge access; msorchestra.com.
Ohmme and Deeper’s show begins 7 p.m., at Hal and Mal’s (200 Commerce St.). The two Chicago-based bands bring their fall tour to the Red Room of the Jackson restaurant and music venue. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. $12 advance, $15 day-of, food and drink prices vary; halandmals.com.
The Beach Boys’ show begins 7 p.m. at Brandon Amphitheater (8190 Rock Way, Brandon). The classic California band brings its 2021 Feel Flows World Tour to the Brandon concert venue. $30-$70 ticket; brandonamphitheater.com.
Farmers Market Features begins 11:30 a.m. at Mississippi Farmers Market (929 High St.). The farmers market hosts a monthly event featuring a different speaker addressing agricultural topics each month. Participants are invited to buy lunch at City
Pumpkin Adventure is from 9 a.m. to noon at Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Museum (1150 Lakeland Drive). The museum offers the fall adventure for kids and families, which includes a hayride around the museum grounds and a snack of milk and cookies, followed by a visit to the pumpkin patch to choose a pumpkin to take home. Call 601-432-4500 or email email@example.com for more information. Groups of 10 or more must make advance reservations. Additional dates: Oct. 6-7, 9 a.m.-noon, Oct. 9, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Oct. 13-15, 9 a.m.-noon, Oct. 16, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. $8 ticket, children under 2 years get in free, msagmuseum.org.
courtesy lemuria books
Over the River Run begins 8 a.m. at Southern Cultural Heritage Foundation (1305 Adams St., Vicksburg). The Vicksburgbased organization holds its fundraiser fivemile run across the old Mississippi River bridge and back. No headphones, rollerblades, strollers, bicycles or animals are allowed on the course during the race. Packet pick up is Oct. 8, from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. at the SCHF auditorium on the corner of
Volunteers visit the Eudora Welty House and Garden to perform gardening duties to upkeep the garden.
Food trucks from around the area gather to offer their wares for sale at Trustmark Park Stadium.
Chamber I: Beloved Baroque is from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at St. Andrew’s Cathedral (305 E. Capitol St.). The Mississippi Symphony Orchestra presents the concert featuring the music of masters such as Vivaldi, Geminiani and Bach. MSO principal trumpet, Darcie Bishop, is the featured soloist. No assigned seating. For more information contact the box office at 601-960-1565 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Doors open at 6:30. $25 general admission, $5 students and children ages 4-18; msorchestra.com.
Yung Gravy’s show begins 8 p.m. at Hal and Mal’s (200 Commerce St.). The rapper from Minnesota brings his Gravy Back In Business tour to the Jackson restaurant and music venue. Ages 18 and up, unless accompanied by an adult. Doors open at 7 p.m. $22 advance general admission, $99 VIP meet-and-greet, food and drink prices vary; halandmals.com.
Take 5: A Tribute to the Dave Brubeck Centennial begins 7:30 p.m. at Duling Hall (622 Duling Ave.). Opera Mississippi organizes the concert to celebrate the musical legacy of Dave Brubeck. The per-
“Crossroads” Virtual Book Discussion begins 7 p.m. and is Virtual. Author Jonathan Franzen discusses his new novel with fellow author Jami Attenburg via live stream. Purchasing the book is required for this event. The event link is sent to the purchaser’s email address, which is taken at check-out, 48 hours prior to the event and again an hour before the event begins. Event is free with the $30 purchase of “Crossroads” novel; lemuriabooks.com. The Bean Path’s Third Anniversary Celebration is from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and is Virtual. The organization providing tech education and support to individual and small businesses in the community holds the event celebrating its third year of sowing tech seeds in the city. Free; Eventbrite.
Pops I: Oscar Classics is from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at Thalia Mara Hall (255 E. Pascagoula St.). The Mississippi Symphony Orchestra presents the concert featuring musical selections from seven decades of Hollywood movies. For more information contact the box office at 601-960-1565 or email@example.com. $27 main, $32 premium, $39 loge, $49 connoisseur, $62 conductor’s circle, $5 students and children ages 4-18; msorchestra.com.
Earth Wind & Fire’s show begins 7:30 p.m. at Brandon Amphitheater (8190 Rock
Reggae Yoga is from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Ecoshed (133 Commerce Park Drive). Niketa Pechan leads the class combining yoga and reggae music. Call 786-603-1748 or
The BrickUniverse LEGO Fan Festival features a number of activities and vendors.
Crawford and Cherry Streets or at the race site prior to the event. Proceeds benefit the Southern Cultural Heritage Foundation. No refunds. $30 five-mile run/walk through Sept. 30, $35 five-mile run/walk from Oct. 1 through Oct. 8, $15 one-mile fun run (kids) through Sept. 30, $20 one-mile fun run (kids) from Oct. 1 through Oct. 8, $125 family rate (up to five family members living at same address); raceroster.com. Bravo I: Exquisite Opener is from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at Thalia Mara Hall (255 E.
or firstname.lastname@example.org. $29 main, $39 premium, $48 loge, $58 connoisseur, $76 conductor’s circle, $5 students and children ages 4-18; msorchestra.com.
Author Jonathan Franzen discusses his new novel via Lemuria Books’ Instagram Live channel.
$30 general admission, $55 VIP; jackson. chucklescomedyhouse.com.
formance features The Sam Bruton Quartet who perform music by the jazz piano and composition legend. $30 advance, $35 at-door; operams.org.
Thrive @ Work 2021 is from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at The Westin Jackson (407 S. Congress. St.). The Women’s Foundation of Mississippi hosts its fourth annual luncheon highlighting businesses with innovative workplace policies that positively impact women employees and employers. Sponsorships available. Contact Frances Patterson Croft at email@example.com for more information. $100 ticket; womensfoundationms.org.
The Christi Show begins 7:30 p.m. at Chuckles Comedy House (6479 Ridgewood Court Drive). The actress and comedian known for her “Ms. Shirleen” character performs at the Jackson comedy club. A two-item minimum purchase per person is required at all shows. No refunds or exchanges. Additional date: Oct. 21.
alphacolor on unsplash
Way, Brandon). The genre-spanning band performs live at the Brandon music venue. Doors open at 6 p.m. $29-$269 ticket; brandonamphitheater.com.
email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Additional dates: Sept. 23, Oct. 7, Oct. 21, Nov. 18. $10 admission.
Art & Nature Workshop: Art in the Woods is from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Mississippi Museum of Natural Science (2148 Riverside Drive). Naturalist and artist Sam Beibers leads this workshop on drawing, painting and journaling directly from nature. Participants are advised to wear longsleeved shirts, long pants, brimmed hats and closed-toe shoes. Insect repellent, sunscreen and a water bottle are also recommended. Workshop enrollment is open to teens and adults. Contact 601-576-6000 or nicole. email@example.com for more information. $35 fee includes museum admission and all materials; mdwfp.com.
Be My Love: A Tribute to the Mario Lanza Centennial begins 7:30 p.m. at Duling Hall (622 Duling Ave.). Opera Mississippi presents the cabaret celebrating the centennial of the American tenor. Tenor vocalist
September 1 - 28, 2021 • boomjackson.com
Pascagoula St.). The Mississippi Symphony Orchestra presents the opening concert of this year’s Selby and Richard McRae Foundation Bravo Series featuring the music of Rossini, Saint-Georges, and Beethoven, among others. Rachel Barton Pine plays violin as the guest artist. For more information contact the box office at 601-960-1565 should wang on unsplash || kristin brenemen
Limits Cafe, located inside the market, and take their plates to the presentation in the north end of the market. Doors open at 11 a.m. Additional dates: Sept. 2, Nov. 4. Free admission; find it on Facebook.
Paw Patrol Live! The Great Pirate Adventure begins 6 p.m. at Mississippi Coliseum (1207 Mississippi St.). The live-action show featuring characters from the Nickelodeon show comes to Jackson. Additional date: Nov. 10, 10 a.m. $17-$120 ticket, price varies by location; find it on Facebook.
September 1 - 28, 2021, 2021 • jfp.ms
trip burns || courtesy lemuria books
Harvest Fest is from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Museum (1150 Lakeland Drive). The museum hosts its annual harvest festival with live demonstrations throughout the museum grounds providing guests with a
Joshua Nguyen and Maggie Graber discuss Nguyen’s new book of poetry, “Come Clean.”
WEDNESDAY 11/24 Hal and Mal’s hosts its weekly trivia night every Wednesday evening for the foreseeable future.
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Peter Lake, accompanied by pianist Tyler Kemp, performs Lanza’s music. $30 advance, $35 at-door; operams.org.
glimpse into small town Mississippi’s past and the impact agriculture has made on our lives. Wagon, train and carousel rides are available for $1 per rider. Reservations are recommended for groups. For more information, or to make a reservation, call 601432-4500 or email msagmuseum@mdac. ms.gov. Additional dates: Nov. 9, Nov. 1113. $7 adults, $5 children ages 3-17, free for children under 2 years; msagmuseum.org.
Tab Benoit begins 9 p.m. at Martin’s Downtown (214 S. State St.). The Louisiana singer-songwriter and guitarist performs. $25 admission, food and drink prices vary; find it on Facebook.
Olde Towne After Dark Trivia is from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at 303 Jefferson (303 Jefferson St., Clinton). The restaurant hosts a trivia competition. Teams of up to four players compete for cash and prizes. Registration is on-site. Tables are first-come, first-served. Additional date: Sept. 16, Oct. 21. $10 per team; mainstreetclintonms.com.
John Crist: The Fresh Cuts Comedy Tour begins 7 p.m. at Thalia Mara Hall (255 E. Pascagoula St.). The Georgia-born comedian brings his comedy tour to Jackson
The Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum hosts Pumpkin Adventure in October, a family-focused event that includes a hayride, refreshments and a pumpkin to take home at the end of the fall-themed celebration.
Ages 18 and up. Doors open at 6 p.m. $39149.50 ticket; find it on Facebook.
Kukuwa African Dance Class is from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Ecoshed (133 Commerce Park Drive). Niketa Pechan leads the dance fitness class based on African rhythms and dance. Call 786-603-1748 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more. Additional dates: Sept. 2, Sept. 30, Oct. 13,
Oct. 28, Nov. 11. $20 admission.
The Molly Ringwalds’ show begins 8 p.m. at Duling Hall (622 Duling Ave.). The New Orleans-based ’80s cover band brings its high-energy show to the Jackson music venue. Ages 18 and up, unless accompanied by an adult. Guests ages 21 and under must pay a $5 fee. Doors open at 7 p.m. $25 ticket; ardenland.net.
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History is more than a timeline—it is a thread woven through all of our lives. Pick up that thread at the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum. Explore and experience the moments, movements, and milestones that continue to shape our world. Plan your visit today at twomississippimuseums.com.
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September 1 - 28, 2021 • boomjackson.com
Thrive @ Work Thrive @ Work Thrive @ Work
Last Issue’s Answers marsupial? 45 Post production? 46 “The House That Gave ___ Treats” (2001 Halloween Homestar Runner cartoon) 47 Lease out again 48 2006 and 2011 W.S. champs 49 “Arabian Nights” ﬂying creature 52 “Mockingbird” singer Foxx 53 Altogether unlike the Addams Family? 57 Stable locks? 58 Cheese with an edible rind 59 “The Magic Flute,” e.g. 60 Opposite of WSW 61 Passed easily 62 Supreme Court justice since 2010
BY MATT JONES
32 Restaurant guide publisher 33 Roller derby track shape 34 Above, to a bard 35 “How’s it goin’?” 36 Glass with a narrative 37 “Yay, team!” 38 “Gesundheit” elicitor 39 “Inside ___ Schumer” 40 Tool’s Maynard James ___ 41 “Garﬁeld” girlfriend 42 Gave the boot 43 Bi-, quadrupled
44 Words often before “I get it ...” 45 Felonious deed 49 “The Man Who Fell To Earth” director Nicolas 50 Gumbo vegetable 51 Ink cartridge color 53 Bucks’ gp. 54 Dungeons & Dragons humanoid 55 Overtime situation 56 ___-Locka (suburb For answers to this puzzle, call: 1-900-226-2800, 99 of Miami) cents per minute. Must be 18+. Or to bill to your credit card, call: 1-800 655-6548. Reference puzzle #955
“This Grid Is Haunted” --is that a ghost? Across
1 “Don’t Know Why” singer Jones 6 Wheat center 10 Ruby, for one 13 Kind of acid in proteins 14 One who writes “Happy Birthday” 15 “Rendezvous With ___” (Arthur C. Clarke novel) 16 Ink with obvious spelling errors? 18 Cable sports award 19 Historic stretch 20 Inexpensive beer, for short 21 Andorra la ___ (capital city)
22 Move furtively 24 Ape cousin 25 The study of eggs from certain parrot relatives? 29 Follow to the letter 30 Green, frowning symbol of poison prevention 31 “About the author” info 32 Unidentiﬁed slime threatening animals in captivity? 35 “Aaron Burr, ___” (“Hamilton” song) 38 Put away 39 Vibrant glow 40 Brass band sound inspired by a
1 Rapper ___ Dogg 2 Ilhan of the “Squad” 3 Moreno of “One Day at a Time” 4 Kitchen pest 5 Commotion 6 “Buon ___!” 7 “Foucault’s Pendulum” author Umberto 8 Agent 9 ___ Peacock (Clue suspect) 10 Fake wood in a ﬁreplace 11 Hire on 12 Quetzalcoatl worshiper 15 Nike competitor 17 “In memoriam” writeup, brieﬂy 21 Market price 22 Word before line or box 23 Largest living lizards, to pet lovers 24 R&B quartet ___ II Men 25 Core with kernels 26 Kimono band 27 Satya Nadella, for one 28 Guerrero gold
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“I often wonder who I am and where is my country and where do I belong and why was I ever born at all,” wrote Virgo author Jean Rhys (1890–1979). I don’t think you will be agitated by those questions during the next eight weeks, Virgo. In fact, I suspect you will feel as secure in your identity as you have in a long time. You will enjoy prolonged clarity about your role in the world, the nature of your desires, and how you should plan your life for the next two years. If for some inexplicable reason you’re not already enjoying these developments, stop what you’re doing and meditate on the probability that I am telling you the bold truth.
ARIES (March 21-April 19):
Aries poet Anna Kamienska wrote, “I’ve learned to value failed conversations, missed connections, confusions. What remains is what’s unsaid, what’s underneath. Understanding on another level of being.” In the coming weeks, I suggest you adopt her perspective as you evaluate both past and present experiences. You’re likely to ﬁnd small treasures in what you’d assumed were wastelands. You may uncover inspiring clues in plot twists that initially frustrated you. Upon further examination, interludes you dismissed as unimportant or uninteresting could reveal valuable wrinkles.
those, since you’ve been authorized by cosmic forces to curse more often and more forcefully than usual. Why? Because you need to summon vivid and intense protests in the face of inﬂuences that may be inhibiting and infringing on your soul’s style. You have a poetic license to rebel against conventions that oppress you.
SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21):
After studying your astrological omens, I’ve decided to offer you inspiration from the ancient Roman poet Catullus. I hope the extravagant spirit of his words will free you to be greedy for the delights of love and affection. Catullus wrote, “Give me a thousand kisses, then a hundred; then another thousand, then a second hundred; then yet another thousand.” I’ll add the following to Catullus’s appeal: Seek an abundance of endearing words, sweet favors and gifts, caresses and massages, help with your work, and fabulous orgasms. If there’s no one in your life to provide you with such blessings, give them to yourself.
Everyone dreams at least three dreams per night. In a year, your subconscious mind generates over 1,100 dreams. About this remarkable fact, novelist Mila Kundera writes, “Dreaming is not merely an act of coded communication. It is also an aesthetic activity, a game that is a value in itself. To dream about things that have not happened is among humanity’s deepest needs.” I bring this to your attention, Scorpio, because September is Honor Your Dreams Month. To celebrate, I suggest the following experiments. 1. Every night before sleep, write down a question you’d like your dreams to respond to. 2. Keep a notebook by your bed and transcribe at least one dream each time you sleep. 3. In the morning, have fun imagining what the previous night’s dreams might be trying to communicate to you. 4. Say prayers of gratitude to your dreams, thanking them for their provocative, entertaining stories.
GEMINI (May 21-June 20):
SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21):
TAURUS (April 20-May 20):
Gemini author Elif Batuman writes that the Old Uzbek language was rich in expressions about crying. There were “words for wanting to cry and not being able to, for loudly crying like thunder in the clouds, for crying in gasps, for weeping inwardly or secretly, for crying ceaselessly in a high voice, for crying in hiccups, and for crying while uttering the sound ‘hay hay.’” I recommend all of these to you in the coming days, as well as others you might dream up. Why? It’s prime time to seek the invigorating release and renewal that come from shedding tears generated by deep and mysterious feelings.
CANCER (June 21-July 22):
A blogger named MythWoven imagines an “alternate universe where I literally go to school forever (for free) so I can learn about art and literature and history and languages for 100 years. No job skills. No credit requirements. No student loans. Just learning.” I have longings like hers. There’s an eternal student within me that wants to be endlessly surprised with exciting information about interesting subjects. I would love to be continually adding fresh skills and aptitudes to my repertoire. In the coming weeks, I will give free rein to that part of me. I recommend you do the same, my fellow Cancerian.
LEO (July 23-Aug. 22):
In 2016, the International Garden Photograph of the Year depicted lush lupine ﬂowers in New Zealand. The sea of tall purple, pink, and blue blooms was praised as “an elegant symphony” and “a joy to behold.” What the judges didn’t mention is that lupine is an invasive species in New Zealand. It forces native plant species out of their habitat, which in turn drives away native animal species, including birds like the wrybill, black stilt, and banded dotterel. Is there a metaphorically comparable phenomenon in your life, Leo? Problematic beauty? Some inﬂuence that’s both attractive and prickly? A wonderful thing that can also be troublesome? The coming weeks will be a favorable time to try to heal the predicament.
LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22):
Several states in the US have statutes prohibiting blasphemy. Saying “God damn it” could theoretically get you ﬁned in Massachusetts, South Carolina, and Wyoming. In the coming days, it’s best to proceed carefully in places like
In her autobiography Changing, Sagittarian actor Liv Ullmann expresses grief about how she and a loved one failed to communicate essential truths to each other. I propose we regard her as your anti-role model for the rest of 2021. Use her error as your inspiration. Make emotionally intelligent efforts to talk about unsaid things that linger like ghostly puzzles between you and those you care about.
CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19):
“I could do with a bit more excess,” writes author Joanne Harris. “From now on I’m going to be immoderate—and volatile,” she vows. “I shall enjoy loud music and lurid poetry. I shall be rampant.” Let me be clear, Capricorn: I’m not urging you to be immoderate, volatile, excessive, and rampant every day for the rest of your long life. But I think you will generate health beneﬁts and good fortune if you experiment with that approach in the coming weeks. Can you think of relatively sane, sensible ways to give yourself this salubrious luxury?
AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18):
While wading through the internet’s wilder terrain, I found a provocative quote alleged to have been uttered by the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates. He supposedly said, “My ultimate goal is to look totally hot, but not be unapproachable.” I confess that in the past I have sometimes been fooled by fake quotes, and I suspect this is one. Still, it’s amusing to entertain the possibility that such an august personage as Socrates, a major inﬂuencer of Western culture, might say something so cute and colloquial. Even if he didn’t actually say it, I like the idea of blending ancient wisdom with modern insights, seriousness with silliness, thoughtful analysis with good fun. In accordance with astrological omens, I recommend you experiment with comparable hybrids in the coming weeks. (PS: One of your goals should be to look totally hot, but not be unapproachable.)
PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20):
“If you don’t know what you want,” writes Piscean novelist Chuck Palahniuk, “you end up with a lot you don’t.” Very true! And right now, it’s extra important to keep that in mind. During the coming weeks, you’ll be at the peak of your ability to attract what you want and need. Wouldn’t you prefer to gather inﬂuences you really desire—as opposed to those for which you have mild or zero interest? Deﬁne your wants and needs very precisely.
Homework. What’s your greatest blessing? Newsletter@FreeWillAstrology.com
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September 1 - 28, 2021 • boomjackson.com
VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22):
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