Former OS mayoral candidate walks free in DUI case

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - By Patrice Clark – bio | email

MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) – Incomplete paperwork ended the DUI trial against former Ocean Springs mayoral candidate Scott Walker. Though Walker's defense subpoenaed Mayor Connie Moran and the board of aldermen to testify in the trial, they were never called. Instead, the judge agreed with the defense argument that the DUI citation was not valid.

Walker walked out of justice court free of any DUI charges.

"Today is a victory; it has been a hard five months," Walker said.

Walker was arrested in April and charged with drinking and driving.  During the trial, several Ocean Springs police officers took the stand and testified they found Walker's car in a ditch on Halstead Road on the morning of April 17.  According to police, Walker was asleep inside his SUV while it was still running. Officers also testified that the 31-year-old walked, talked, and smelled like he was drunk when he stepped out of the SUV.

Walker's defense team steadfastly denied those allegations and argued Walker suffered from sleep deprivation.

"I was very, very coherent the entire time. I had just not slept in 72 hours so that caused me to wreck my car, but I am just glad this is over," Walker said.

But it was a DUI citation issued to Walker that ended the case against him. The deputy clerk, who signed the paperwork, did not complete it with her title. Walker's defense lawyer argued the clerk's title was required and without it the DUI charge was invalid. They pointed to a 2006 Attorney General's opinion to argue their case.

"We went to pull some research because we have researched those issues before on clerks' signatures, and who has to sign documents, and things like that," Defense attorney Keith Miller said.

The police and prosecution both expressed disappointment at the judge's ruling to toss the case.

"Based on the testimony that we put on, four, five, or six officers based on what they said, do I think he was driving and impaired? Yes, sure," Prosecutor Mark Watts said.

"Mr. Walker's attorneys found an obscure Attorney General's opinion.  Again, that is what it is, an Attorney General's opinion. Our clerks and our officers continue to follow the statues.  Apparently, we have to modify our record keeping system," Ocean Spring's Deputy Chief Mark Dunston said. "While we disagree with the judge's ruling, it is what he decided to do and we will move on from here."

The judge also ruled that Walker can't be retried for the same misdemeanor crime because the prosecution rested its case before the defense presented the faulty citation as evidence.

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