Mike Dunavant, District Attorney General for the 25th judicial district, talks to Memphis news media outside the courtroom Friday. Valerie Corder, the attorney for Noura Jackson looks on.
The judge in the re-trial of Noura Jackson was in no hurry to order her a bond hearing Friday, noting that she has already been in jail since 2005 and that there was no need for “an emergency bond hearing.”
Jackson was convicted in 2009 of the second-degree murder of her mother, Jennifer Jackson, in 2005. The conviction was overturned by the Tennessee Supreme Court last year on violations by Amy Weirich, the Shelby County District Attorney General.
Jackson remains charged with the murder and has a constitutional right to a bond. But Jackson went back to jail Friday after a special prosecutor was appointed in her case.
The chance of a bond hearing Friday dissolved as the new prosecutors and Jackson’s attorney need to work out the details of moving the case forward. That will take another court hearing, scheduled for Wednesday, April 8.
Valerie Corder, Jackson’s attorney, reminded Criminal Court Judge Chris Craft Friday of Jackson’s constitutional right to a bond.
“She’s been in jail since 2005,” Craft said, in response to Corder. “This is not an emergency bond hearing, We have to take things in order and let both sides be represented.”
Corder responded by saying that Jackson's stint in jail should be a reason to expedite the matter instead of delaying it once more. Craft did not respond to Corder’s suggestion. Instead, he asked brusquely, “Is there anything else we need to take up?” And, with that, Jackson's hearing was adjourned.
Outside the courtroom, Corder said she would not speak to the judge’s thought process on the matter but repeated Craft’s words.
“My client’s been in jail for nine-and-a-half years and at this moment in time she’s innocent of all charges,” Corder said. “She needs to be able to proceed to a resolution of these charges as expediently as possible. Just as any other citizen in this state, she has a right to bond while doing so.”
A bond for Jackson could come at the April 8 hearing. But more likely than not, the hearing and her possible release will be postponed to a date later in April. Should she be released in April, Jackson would have spent eight months behind bars after the Supreme Court overturned her conviction.
Jackson and her attorney were ready for a bond hearing last month as her new trial was to kick off. However, District Attorney General Weirich announced at that hearing that she would recuse herself and her office from Jackson’s re-trial. That action automatically got Jackson another 30 days in jail as a special prosecutor was found.
Friday’s court action was the official beginning of Jackson's new trial. Special prosecutors were assigned in what is likely to be a months-long court case.
The assignment came as a surprise to Corder, who said she learned of the move only when she got to court Friday morning. The special prosecutors said they got word of the assignment Friday morning from the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference.
The special prosecutors are from the Tennessee’s 25th judicial district, which includes Fayette, Hardeman, Lauderdale, McNairy, and Tipton Counties. The team includes the district’s Attorney General, Mike Dunavant.