Coxwell & Associates Managing Partner Defends Murder Case

The Tuesday, January 5th, 2010 Clarion Ledger ran a front page article in the Metro/State section about a Preliminary Hearing in a Jackson murder case. Coxwell & Associate Managing Partner Merrida Coxwell and Dale Danks are defending a man who has been charged with the murder of his friend. The police claim that the client killed his friend yet they had no motive, no witnesses, and virtually no evidence against the man. He was apparently the only person who they found to charge. The man actually found the body and called the police to report the crime. Having no other suspects, the police charged the man with murder. The Clarion Ledger reported in a large article about the results of the Preliminary Hearing. The article can be accessed at this site:
A Preliminary Hearing is a Court Hearing that every person is entitled to if they are arrested and are not released on bail. The purpose of the Preliminary Hearing is for the Judge to make a determination if there is enough probable cause to hold the citizen. A Preliminary Hearing does not establish guilt or innocence. The prosecution only need to show that the accused probably committed the crime. Typically people charged do not produce evidence. If the Court believes a crime was committed and the person charged probably committed it, then the case is sent to the Grand Jury for an Indictment. After the indictment is returned then the accused person is given a Trial Date. When the Trial Date comes he has to plead guilty or go to trial.

Very frequently an accused has a Preliminary Hearing and the Judge finds there is evidence to send the case to the Grand Jury, yet the accused is found not guilty at trial. I personally have had six (6)cases in a row where the person was bound over and indicted for a crime, but found not guilty by the jury. This may be hard for a person not in the legal system to understand. A police officer or prosecutor may believe someone is probably guilty, they may have suspicions, or they may have a preponderance of evidence, but unless they can prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the person is entitled to a not guilty verdict. This reflects the value that American puts on freedom and how our country began with a distrust of authority and the abuse of power. I hope this attitude never changes. As one writer said, “Power corrupts, and absolute power absolutely corrupts.”

A Preliminary Hearing is a valuable right. If a person is arrested and makes bail they are not entitled to a Preliminary Hearing. There may be some instances where a person incarcerated may choose to waive his Preliminary Hearing. Generally, I prefer a client not waive the Preliminary unless it is part of a well planned strategy. A Preliminary Hearing can have some benefits and if you are charged by the government you need all the benefits you can get. If a Preliminary Hearing is waived, it needs to be part of a strategy, and not for the convenience of the lawyer. In many cases I have handled over the past 29 years I learned valuable information during the Preliminary Hearing. If you get charged and cannot make bail ask your lawyer to set a Preliminary Hearing. If your lawyer wants you to waive the Preliminary, make sure it is part of your strategy with the lawyer and not just for the reason that he thinks it is a waste of time. If your lawyer cannot explain a good reason for waiving the Preliminary Hearing….maybe you might want to talk with another lawyer.

Merrida Coxwell is one of the most recognized attorneys in Mississippi. His reputation is built on his desire to help people. Merrida has defended some of the largests and highly publicized cases in Mississippi. He has also recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for injured and defrauded clients. If you have a problem call Merrida at 601-948-1600 or e mail at

Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.

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