Conviction Of Former Mississippi Director Of Driver Records Upheld On Appeal
Jackson, Miss - The criminal conviction of James Smith, former Director of Driver Records for the Mississippi Department of Public Safety, was affirmed today by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis announced.
Smith’s appeal followed his conviction by a jury at the conclusion of a one-week trial before U.S. District Judge Daniel P. Jordan III in August, 2011. Smith was found guilty of making false statements concerning commercial driver records that he altered using his authority as Director of Driver Records. The records were maintained in a database linked to the Commercial Driver’s License Information System, which Congress established so that records of commercial license holders can be accessible nationwide.
As Mississippi Director of Drivers Records from 2005 to 2010, Smith was responsible for overseeing records of persons holding commercial driver’s licenses and had the ability to access and change their driving records. He was found guilty of falsifying records for commercial driver’s license holders. In his appeal, Smith challenged the federal jurisdiction and the materiality of the false statements. The Court of Appeals rejected both of Smith’s claims on appeal. The Court determined that Smith’s manipulation of commercial driving records fell within the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and that the changes Smith made to the driving records were material for the purpose of the federal false statement statute.
Assistant United States Attorneys Harold Brittain and Angela Williams were the prosecutors of the case in United States District Court. Assistant United States Attorney Gaines Cleveland handled the case on appeal.
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