by Sharon Rondeau
(Nov. 12, 2021) — On October 27, Tennessee inmate Jason Lamar White began the process of interstate transfer from New Mexico to Tennessee in anticipation of a November 4 hearing in Shelby County on a post-conviction petition.
Last month White filed a Second Motion to Recuse Judge Robert Carter and the prosecutor’s office from the case, alleging bias and ex parte communications between Carter and Assistant District Attorney General Christopher Scruggs.
On October 28 Judge Robert Carter abruptly canceled the hearing and White’s transport order after advising White’s elbow counsel, Shae Atkinson, that he was compelled to rule on the Motion to Recuse prior to presiding over any other matters in the case.
Atkinson did not reply to The Post & Email’s October 30 request for comment.
Carter also canceled a transport order for White’s one time co-defendant, Montez Mullins, for travel from West Tennessee State Penitentiary to the Shelby County jail for Mullins to testify at White’s request.
Although later charged with participating in the crime of conspiracy to sell methamphetamine in a “drug-free zone” for which White was indicted in April 2016, Mullins was originally identified by White’s attorney as a defense witness amid Mullins’s written and oral confessions to having orchestrated the delivery of a drug-filled package to the zone in question.
In April 2016, White was serving the last months of a 21-year sentence when he was accused of taking part in the conspiracy. Now 40, White received a 60-year sentence without the possibility of parole.
Mullins received a 30-year sentence in addition to sentences he was already serving for other convictions.
Another co-defendant to whose home the package was delivered by the Bartlett Police Department, Kristina Cole, was sentenced to 13.5 years in prison without possibility of parole and without a prior criminal record.
The cancellation of the November 4 hearing was the second postponement. Carter has scheduled a hearing on the Motion to Recuse for November 19, White’s mother Kimberly told us.
On Tuesday, Kimberly informed The Post & Email that her son had had no access to a telephone since October 27, when the transport process began and he was moved from one New Mexico prison to another.
For what Kimberly and Jason White believe are unjustifiable reasons, White was transferred to New Mexico in May 2019 during his appellate process, rendering it exponentially more difficult for him to access Tennessee law while acting as his own attorney from another state.
“On Oct. 29 I reached out to Andrea Smith who is the Interstate compact representative for New Mexico,” Kimberly told us in a November 9 email. “She had advised me that they were reviewing his situation and he would be able to call me within a week.”
“Once an inmate is transferred to a different prison they have to go through a process of different things to get them into a housing unit,” Kimberly continued. “Part of the process is to get the inmate assigned with a telephone pin so they can make phone calls to the individuals on their phone list. Jason has still not been provided a telephone pin.”
On that day, Kimberly said, she contacted Smith, requesting the restoration of her son’s telephone privileges and suggesting that his due process and constitutional rights were being violated. “She told me real quick that they were not violating his constitutional rights and that we would have to communicate through mail,” Kimberly told us. “I explained to her that he didn’t get my mail when I sent it.”
On Wednesday morning, The Post & Email contacted Smith with the following:
Hello, I have been following the case of Jason Lamar White, who was anticipating being transported from NM to TN last week for a hearing. As I’m sure you know, the order was canceled, apparently after Mr. White had entered the transport process. Can you provide an update on his status, location, and whether or not he has phone privileges?
Thank you very much.
Sharon Rondeau, Editor
The Post & Email
While we received no response, on the evening of November 10, Kimberly sent us an email in which she wrote, “I just got off the phone with Jason. They got him a pin number today, so he can make phone calls now.”