DUI charges against county supervisor mysteriously dropped

Published 2:16 pm Thursday, May 9, 2019

A county supervisor in Mississippi was charged with drunken driving last year but was released without being booked into jail. The charge was later dropped.

Second-term Lee County Supervisor Billy Joe Holland told the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal this week that he drank multiple margaritas before being stopped at a Highway Patrol checkpoint April 6, 2018.

“I hate that it happened. I messed up,” Holland said. “It’s my fault, and I’m moving on.”

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Documents show a breath test more than an hour after the stop found Holland’s blood alcohol level was 0.10% percent. The legal limit is 0.08%.

Most people arrested would then be fingerprinted and photographed and their names would be put on the jail docket. But, Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson said he told jail employees to let Holland go without doing those things.

“He’s one of our supervisors, and it was requested not to be done, so I didn’t do it,” Johnson said. “I take full responsibility for him being released to a responsible person.”

Holland did not have to post any kind of bond or sign a promise to appear in court to secure his release. He received a citation for first-offense DUI, but the charge against him was dismissed within six weeks.

James Moore, who was county prosecutor at the time, said the charge was brought to his attention by someone in law enforcement.

“After conferring with law enforcement, the decision was made to dismiss,” Moore said.

He would not say who requested that the charge be dismissed. The sheriff said he played no role in the dismissal.

Moore is no longer county prosecutor. He was elected a county court judge in November.

Holland’s mother is a Lee County Justice Court judge and his brother is a longtime state representative. The supervisor denied seeking favorable treatment and denied any knowledge of why his charge was dismissed.

“I don’t have a clue,” Holland said. “I was prepared to face the consequences.”

Holland was not in court when the case was dropped, according to Justice Court Judge Chuck Hopkins, who was presiding.

“As I recall, the arresting officer was there but Mr. Holland was not,” Hopkins said. “The prosecutor gave me a motion to dismiss. Once you get that, you can’t move forward, so I signed it.”

Because Holland was never booked, his DUI charge left little paper trail. The dismissal helped keep the case out of the public eye.

The original citation, the breath test report and the dismissal order remain publicly available at Lee County Justice Court. After learning of the arrest, a Daily Journal reporter reviewed those records. All records of the arrest could have been permanently erased if Holland had asked for the charge to be expunged.