No date set for Binky trial

Published 6:00 am Saturday, January 13, 2007

No trial date was set during Circuit Clerk M.L. “Binkey” Vines’ discovery hearing Friday, according to a statement from the attorney general’s office.

The morning hearing was not held in the courtroom onlookers expected, and interested citizens and reporters didn’t witness the proceedings.

The group of spectators waited in the circuit courtroom while attorneys and the judge apparently met in the county courtroom.

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Vines and his attorney, Claude “Buck” Pintard, could be seen entering a room off the hallway. After roughly 30 minutes, Vines, Pintard and representatives from the attorney general’s office, prosecuting the case emerged.

Vines then came into the circuit courtroom and shook hands with several people.

“God is still on the throne,” he said, and left.

Afterward, Pintard said the discovery hearing took place in the county courtroom, a smaller courtroom off that hall. Pintard said he had no comment on the proceedings.

A statement from the attorney general’s office Friday said the judge “met with parties to verify that discovery had been exchanged. Setting of (a) trial date was delayed due to scheduling conflicts.”

A discovery hearing is intended to ensure both parties have complied with research requirements.

Vines was indicted in September on 13 counts of embezzlement and pleaded not guilty at his arraignment.

Judge Joe Webster from Coahoma County presided over the proceedings. Circuit Judges Lillie Blackmon Sanders and Forrest “Al” Johnson recused themselves from the case, citing potential conflicts of interest.

The discovery hearing was originally scheduled to be held last month, but it was rescheduled after attorneys in the case asked for an extension, Webster said at the time.

The indictment alleges Vines embezzled $225,760 in county money over the 2002-2003 fiscal year.

A 2003 audit found understated fees and a lack of documentation in the circuit clerk’s office. In other audits, the office has been cited for bookkeeping problems, such as not filing required documents with the state and bouncing various checks written to the county.