PADUCAH, Ky. (WPSD) — Circuit Judge Jamie Jameson is defending decisions he has made so far in the deadly Marshall County High School shooting case.
Jameson oversees the case of 15-year-old Gabriel Parker. Parker is charged as an adult and is accused of opening fire Jan. 23 in the commons area of the school. Bailey Holt and Preston Cope, both 15, were killed in the shooting, and 18 others were wounded.
Paxton Media Group, which owns WPSD-TV, filed two petitions earlier this month alleging serious misconduct in the case. The first alleges Jameson is acquainted with the suspect’s mother and says he appointed a public defender despite having no legal authority to do so. In that filing, PMG asked the Kentucky Court of Appeals to override Jameson’s actions that closed the arraignment and sealed the records.
PMG filed a second petition accusing Jameson of overseeing a secret hearing with no prior docket entry or public notice. It also accuses Jameson of issuing a gag order, then sealing the order so no one could view it. This filing asks the Court of Appeals to void the gag order and make records of circuit court proceedings available to the public.
On Monday, WPSD received a copy of Jameson’s response for the Court of Appeals. He claims both petitions lack evidence and states he has acted within his authority and according to the law. He argues the dispute is merely “differences of opinion on legal matters.”
In his response, Jameson gave a time line of events, including appointing Parker’s public defense attorney, Bethany Willcutt, and having a conference call on Feb. 19 with no notice to the public. Willcutt no longer represents Parker. Tom Griffiths is his acting attorney and as such took part in the Feb. 19 call.
Jameson stated Willcutt approached him within hours after the shooting and said she planned to request her employer, the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy, appoint her to represent Parker. Jameson states Willcutt was contacted by Parker’s mother , who was concerned Parker was being questioned in custody without an attorney. Jameson says he appointed Willcutt without any objections from Commonwealth Attorney Mark Blakenship. Jameson argues that since Parker’s case was not filed in any court at that point, he could make the appointment as judge of the court of “general jurisdiction.”
Jameson also acknowledged knowing Parker’s mother but argues there is no personal relationship, stating he only knows her as a reporter for a local news outlet.
In the time line Jameson provided, he stated he acted within the law, which “compels confidentiality of records until the juvenile defendant ‘has been indicted and arraigned.’” Despite both events happening, those records are still sealed. Jameson argues the court is not obligated to unseal the records immediately. Jameson did state that during the arraignment Tom Griffiths, now Parker’s acting attorney, challenged Parker being charged as an adult.
Jameson also acknowledged having a conference call with Griffiths and Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Jacob Ford on Feb. 19. He argued conference calls are often permitted to speed up legal matters. He says the parties agreed to keep all records from the juvenile part of the case sealed until he reached a decision Griffiths’ challenge.
Jameson also defended the sealed gag order described in PMG's petition as unconstitutional. He argues it is no longer relevant because it expired after Parker’s arraignment.
Jameson dismissed PMG's suggestion that he recuse himself, arguing such a request must come from the defendant or prosecution. The prosecution requested last week that a special judge be appointed.
Paducah Sun Editor and Publisher Jim Paxton says the next stop will likely be oral argument before the Court of Appeals, but the court could decide before that based on the filings.
You can read Jameson’s first response below:
You can read Jameson’s second response below:
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