Special gravel coverage

After ‘outcry’, Mississippi case to be re-opened

Posted by on June 28th, 2011 at 8:30 am

“[District Attorney] Allgood said his phone hasn’t stopped ringing since the media reported his determination last week.”
— from NEMS360.com story;
‘DA reopens biking case after outcry’

An update on that tragic case from Mississippi we shared last week:

Here’s the latest from NEMS360.com (emphasis mine):

District Attorney Forrest Allgood will reopen his investigation of the May 22 car-on-bicycle accident in Clay County amid mounting pressure from the state’s cycling community.

Allgood said Monday his team will interview witnesses of the crash that left Starkville cyclist Jan Morgan comatose for a month. Their statements could change his initial opinion that motorist Robbie Norton committed no felony acts when she hit Morgan and then ran over her a second time…

… Allgood said his phone hasn’t stopped ringing since the media reported his determination last week.

This is indeed good news to folks who live and ride in Mississippi — and to people everywhere who were shocked at the outcome of this case. How could a woman hit someone, get out of her car, see the victim lying in the road, get back in her car, run over the person again and take off – only to be wrestled from her car by witnesses (and while talking on a cell phone the entire time) and only be charged with a misdemeanor?

Hopefully, with a more extensive review of the case by DA Allgood, we’ll find out.

Jan Morgan’s husband David, who has been blogging about his wife’s condition and the legal case, seems to have faith in DA Allgood. On his blog yesterday, Mr. Morgan wrote:

I have talked to a very close friend of mine who tells me Mr Allgood takes very seriously what he does and truly wants to do the right thing… I will be patient and await his reevaluation of the situation.

Read more at NEMS360.com.

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  • NW Biker June 28, 2011 at 8:41 am

    This is great news! I simply don’t understand the “freaked out” defense: that the driver was so panicked by having hit someone that taking off was understandable. Isn’t that the very definition of hit and run?

    It’ll be interesting to see if the DA makes a different determination in this case. It shouldn’t take a national outcry to get justice for Jan Morgan, but if that’s what it takes, then so be it.

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  • esther c June 28, 2011 at 8:45 am

    Really isn’t every hit and run driver freaked out and in a panicked state? the refusal to put down the cell phone and attend to the problem has got to be gross negligence.

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  • single track June 28, 2011 at 8:45 am

    NO PHONES while operating 2000 lb projectiles! Heal up soon.

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    • A.K. June 28, 2011 at 8:58 am

      No kidding. If you watch people inside their cars (and not just the cars themselves) it’s shocking how many people still have a phone jammed up to their ear while they drive.

      I’m sorry, but every time someone complains about cyclists being scofflaws, I cannot take that seriously considering that drivers flout commonly-known laws as well.

      And the cycle never ends…!

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      • brian E June 28, 2011 at 9:08 am

        Or, stopping at the stop sign, if they stop. Seems like 99% of the cars stop at the furthest point forward at an intersection. On top of the bike lane or cross walking path.

        Sorry, I’m not sure how well I described this. But, you are supposed to stop your car at the painted line near the stop sign. Then pull forward to the edge of the intersection if it is OK.

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        • Spiffy June 29, 2011 at 2:04 pm

          and if there’s no line you have to stop before the actual sign…

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  • Forseti June 28, 2011 at 9:06 am

    Even if you get a conviction here, you will still live in the god-forsaken sh!t-hole that is the State of Mississippi. Never in our lifetimes will it be a safe place to ride, or a decent place to live. Life is short — move now! Trust me on this, I lived there for 12 years.

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    • Paul Johnson June 28, 2011 at 12:52 pm

      I think you’re thinking California.

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      • Opus the Poet June 28, 2011 at 7:29 pm

        No, he’s right. Mississippi is the reason TX is 49th in education funding after the recent budget cuts. Otherwise we would be 50th… MS is really that bad, it’s like after they get the kids to spell the state name right they quit teaching them anything like logic or critical thinking. I had emplyees from MS back when I had the toy company, and while they were better than trained monkeys that was mostly because they didn’t throw their poop when they were given instructions. Bah-Dump, tish!

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        • Paul Johnson June 28, 2011 at 8:20 pm

          True, but that makes California’s fail all the more spectacular, since they spend a lot more than Texas or Mississippi on education and still come out dumber than TX or MS overall.

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      • Pete June 29, 2011 at 2:30 am

        Sling mud all you want, but people who hit cyclists are actually prosecuted here (I can show proof). I thought moving here from Oregon would suck, but frankly I like riding here better than decades of riding there (in the city and burbs while working, I still ride back in rural Oregon quite often and love it; will be flying home tomorrow night for the holiday weekend and taking the Cannondale out to ride with old friends). Drivers are nicer to cyclists here in my experience (believe it or not; it has surprised me), the varied terrain from where I live in silicon valley is good, and I have far more days on the road here (and off).

        You can keep your political arguments to yourself (I don’t care for politics in general let alone that pathetic aspect of this state), but on topic I see quite the opposite of what you frequently say about cycling or living here (actually I don’t see you comment about cycling much, just lobbing generalisms about ‘Californians’ akin to people saying ‘cyclists run stop signs’). If I’m not mistaken you currently live in neither Oregon nor California – Tulsa, is it?

        Paul, seriously, I’m not trying to insult you, nor would I declare this is the greatest state in the union, but your random comments about CA just get monotonous and add negativity – yes, I take many of them personally as I guess I’m technically a “Californian” now and you therefore frequently direct them at me. I think you have as much right to categorize me as the Mayor of Hillsboro has to say I don’t pay my share of roadway costs.

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        • Paul Johnson June 29, 2011 at 1:08 pm

          I’m in Portland again, and really can’t stand the attitude here since having been away from the Californian attitude for a while. The infectious negativity is subtle but persistent wherever there’s a large californian population. I’ve lived in California for years before, so it’s not like I don’t know the score there. Be glad your Californian experience has been greatly sheltered.

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        • Paul Johnson June 29, 2011 at 1:10 pm

          That said, in five years time, if there were any redeeming feature to California or the vast majority of it’s inhabitants actually existed, one should be able to find it. Since no such feature ever presented itself, it either doesn’t exist or requires an electron microscope to detect.

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    • Melody Moody August 3, 2011 at 2:14 pm

      I serve as the Director of Mississippi’s bicycle and pedestrian advocacy group and I can’t help but think that comments about what a sh!t hole Mississippi is will ever get us anywhere that resembles any progress. Perhaps instead we should all be working together to better our nation, better protect vulnerable users of the road and believe in progress…even in Mississippi.

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  • 9watts June 28, 2011 at 9:09 am

    The names in this case (Jan, Robbie) are the kind where you don’t know their gender, but I gather that both are women.
    I’m very glad this is being revisited.

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  • 9watts June 28, 2011 at 9:20 am

    “For aggravated assault, Allgood said, he’d need proof Norton either intentionally hit and ran over Morgan or that she acted with reckless disregard to the value of human life – culpable negligence.”


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  • 9watts June 28, 2011 at 9:24 am

    “The first time she hit her it was gross negligence,” Knox said. “The second time, there was no compelling circumstance whatsoever to return and restart the vehicle.”

    A kid is fooling around with a gun. The gun goes off and another person is lying on the ground unconscious and bleeding. The kid reloads and pulls the trigger while pointing the gun at the person on the ground. Reckless disregard for human life?

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  • fredlf June 28, 2011 at 10:02 am

    This is good news, but I could happily go the rest of my life without hearing the phrase “cycling community” ever again. There may be a “cycling activism community,” but cyclists are just people riding bikes for one reason or another. Calling them a “community” is a way to marginalize those people, to separate them from the mainstream.

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    • Jack June 28, 2011 at 10:58 am

      Agreed. I suspect it was actually the ‘humanitarian community’ that was keeping the DA’s phone ringing off the hook. And maybe a lot of those people ride a bike sometimes.

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    • Pete June 29, 2011 at 2:39 am

      Hear hear! I’m tired of perceptions choosing my identity for me. It seems the natural evolution of categorization is then characterization…

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  • gumby June 28, 2011 at 11:05 am

    Minor point – the driver was a woman, not a man.

    Thanks gumby. I’ve edited the story. — JM

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  • q`Tzal June 28, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    This is the Internet … and Mr. Allgood … you’ve made the Internet very angry.

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    • dmc June 28, 2011 at 2:48 pm

      *squints out his window into the southeast horrizon*

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  • Joe Rowe June 28, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    This DA has a long record of personal bias. He should be taken off the case and investigated ASAP. This demand should be the next step for the bike community. Perhaps some lawyers reading this might help us know who to call to request that?

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  • Jim Hunt June 28, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    What’s wrong with assault or attempted murder?

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    • Opus the Poet June 28, 2011 at 7:31 pm

      Apparently nothing, which is why there weren’t any charges filed…

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  • Doug Smart January 4, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    Jonathan has tweeted a link to a news report of the outcome of the trial in this case. A $50 fine and court costs from a judge who is blaming the victim.

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  • Melody Moody January 4, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    Director of Bike Walk Mississippi here. Yes, it is an absolutely atrocity that Ms. Norton was only charged $50 and we are very frustrated with the lack of justice in this case. In fact, Ms. Norton is appealing the $50 charge. We are working on ways to continue bringing the injustice to the public and putting continued pressure on the justice system and public officials. It is beyond frustrating.

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