A judge on Monday postponed ruling whether some of former Gov. Haley Barbour's pardons are invalid, including the reprieves for mansion trusties who served during his second term.
But Hinds County Circuit Judge Tomie Green denied motions to disqualify the attorney general's office from arguing the case and to transfer it to another judge.
Green said former trusties - David Gatlin, Charles Hooker, Anthony McCray and Joseph Ozment, who were convicted of murder, and Nathan Kern, who was convicted of robbery - should continue to report daily to the Mississippi Department of Corrections. All but Ozment have been located since her initial order Jan. 11 and were in court on Monday.
Also, five pardoned criminals still incarcerated will remain there until the next hearing on the temporary restraining order, scheduled for 1 p.m. Feb. 3.
Hood said his office got what it hoped for in that the original order was extended, and that his office has more time to continue its review of the former governor's pardons. He said he plans to ask for a summary judgment, a decision by the judge without a trial.
"It's a straight up and down constitutional issue - whether it was complied with or not," Hood said. "This is just dry law."
Green stressed the only point argued would be the constitutionality of the pardons. But there has been debate over interpretation of the constitutional publication requirement - to publish a newspaper notice for 30 days announcing a request for a pardon. Some of those pardoned published a notice 30 days before their pardon was granted, but did not publish every day for 30 days. In the case of a weekly newspaper, Hood has said five weeks is necessary, not four, to cover 30 days.
Tom Fortner, a former Hinds County public defender representing four of the former Governor's Mansion trusties, has said only the governor has the authority to interpret the constitutional provision.
Hood's challenge of the pardons came after victims' families, lawmakers and the public expressed outrage over Barbour's decisions, which he made during his last days in office.