Today’s Clarion-Ledger graces us with more “expert” legal commentary from Mississippi College law professor Matt Steffey.
The short story is that after 9/11, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Mississippi began investigating possible links to terrorism in the district (as they should have). The investigation focused on convenience stores, many of which were owned by persons of Middle Eastern descent.
The agents ultimately found no terror-related activity, but did discover other criminal acts relating to the sale of pseudoephedrine, which is a precursor to the manufacture of methamphetamine.
Rather than focus on the illegal activity itself, the article discusses the obligatory (yet apparently baseless) claims that law enforcement engaged in racial profiling when it decided to investigate the convenience stores.
To explain the concept of racial profiling to us ignorant readers, Clarion-Ledger reporter Jerry Mitchell taps Professor Matt Steffey to give us some in-depth legal analysis of the issue. Says Steffey:
“[there are] serious constitutional and statutory issues raised by targeting people on the basis of national origin or race. If race simply coincided with the investigation, that’s something else. But if they were targeted because of national origin, that’s unlawful and a very serious racial profiling case that would be disturbing to a lot of people.”
Well thanks a lot, Captain Obvious. If they were targeted because of their race, that’s bad; but if their race was just a coincidence, then it’s cool. That may just be a frontrunner for the “no-s&*t statement of the month.” Something tells me that most readers knew that already, even without the crack legal analysis from expert Steffey.
Apparently, Steffey has ordained himself an expert on Mississippi criminal law. He has been quoted on several high-profile criminal cases by local media, including The Clarion-Ledger and WLBT. He’s even gone so far as to give his opinion on trial tactics and strategy.
The problem with Steffey’s “expert” analysis is that he is not an expert on criminal law. This is readily apparent by his usually lame comments, most of which are similar in quality to the one cited above.
The fact is Steffey simply does not have the experience necessary to offer an opinion on any aspect of Mississippi law. As reported by Kingfish at Jackson Jambalaya, “Steffey is not licensed to practice law in Mississippi,…has not practiced law [anywhere] since he was fresh out of law school and has been a professor for 20 years or so.” Kingfish’s take on Steffey can be found here:
To my knowledge, Steffey, in the brief time he actually practiced law, never handled a criminal case. Furthermore, he’s never tried a case of any type in any court. That’s what makes his pontifications, especially on trial strategy, worthless. Whenever I hear him talk about strategy or how a ruling impacts the defense of a case, I always wonder: “How the hell would he know?” Shouldn’t one actually try a jury trial, before giving opinions on how to handle a jury trial?
Keep these facts in mind the next time you read or hear Steffey offering his “expert” commentary on criminal law.
Jackson, Mississippi Criminal Defense Attorney Curt Crowley