Attorney, Client Plead "Guilty"

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Attorney J. Keith Shelton of Waynesboro and his client, Edward James Jennings, Jr., entered "best interest" guilty pleas Monday before Hinds County Circuit Judge Tomie Green.

The "best interest'' plea allows a defendant to plead guilty to a crime without admitting to actually doing it.

Essentially, there is enough evidence to go to the jury and possibly be convicted, so it's in the defendant's "best interest'' to plead rather than face a stiffer sentence at trial. Green can accept or reject the pleas after a pre-sentencing investigation, which should take about 30 days. The judge could also non-adjudicate the cases, meaning Shelton and Jennings won't have a conviction on their records.

Shelton and Jennings are accused of trying to bribe Hinds County Youth Court Judge Houston Patton in 1997 over a complaint Jennings filed against Patton with the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance.

According to the allegations, Shelton and Jennings offered to drop the complaint for $25,000. The two also wanted the judge to reinstate a $35,000 judgment for Jennings that the judge had rescinded. Patton reported the incident.