Preparations are being made by both the defense and prosecution in the upcoming trial of James N. Bynum set for Oct. 29-31 in the Scott County Courtroom. Four years ago, Bynum was granted a guilty plea by a jury of 10 counts of Sexual Assault in the Fourth Degree a Class D Felony as well as two counts of Sexual Assault in the Second Degree a Class B Felony. The Jury handed down the sentence for counts one thru 10 of six years for each count to run consecutive with all other counts. The sentence for Count 11 was 20 years to run consecutive with all other counts. The sentence for Count 13 was 20 years to run consecutive with all other counts.
In January of 2017, Judge Kenneth S. Hixson published an opinion stating the ten counts of sexual assault in the fourth degree should be reserved and dismissed as time-barred by the statute of limitations, but supported the convictions of counts 11 and 13.
Awaiting a re-trial, Bynum was transferred back to the Scott County Detention Center from the Arkansas Department of Corrections where he resided until he was bonded out by First Arkansas Bail Bonds on August 9 of this year. Bynum and his attorney requested a change of venue for the upcoming trial, but was not granted by Judge Jerry Don Ramey.
Last week within the Scott County Circuit Clerk’s Office, Bynum, with his attorney Shannon Foster, filed a Motion to reference to any finding by the Arkansas State Police Investigator stating in the motion, “Defendant requests the Court to instruct the prosecutor and Alisa Huff, or any other representative of law enforcement of law enforcement, that the prosecutor is not to refer or infer in any manner to or otherwise suggest to the jury that any finding was made in the Arkansas State Police Investigation…To suggest to the jury that a previous finding was made in any investigation will deprive the Defendant of the presumption of innocence and a fair trial by an impartial jury in accordance with the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, Article I and the Arkansas Constitution. Any finding that may have been made would have been under a different standard than Reasonable Doubt and would confuse the jury and prejudice them against the Defendant.”
Foster also entered a motion to Summon Additional Jury Panel and Other Matters due to the denial of Bynum’s motion of change of venue which expressed concern about finding unbiased jurors in such a small community when the first trial has been held there. Found within the motions includes “At a minimum, the Defendant should be entitled to jury members who are unaware of any prior trial and/or conviction, and any such knowledge should require the Court striking them for cause; Jury members should be required to state under oath that the Defendant is innocent at start of trial. Failure to be able to do so should result in any juror being struck for cause; any prospective juror should be required to disclose any prior discussions or conversation in which they have participated regarding Mr. Bynum, his case, or the alleged victims; It is anticipated that many jurors will be disqualified due to particular and unusual circumstance of this case, and that an additional jury panel will be required to obtain 14 unbiased jurors who have limited or no knowledge of the case. This motion needs to be granted immediately to allow both sides time to review the jury questionnaires; the Defendant was told that the Court intends to question four jurors in the jury room at a time, which could taint three jurors upon disclosure of a single juror’s prior knowledge or conduct. The Defendant requests that each juror be polled individually or by pairs, to limit the tainting of the other jurors; the Defendant is entitled to a fair trial by a jury who believes his is innocent until proven guilty, and the Court must ensure that the panel seated holds by this tenet, which will prove difficult if not impossible in this venue. To deny these requests would result in the denial of the Defendant’s due process for a fair trail.” Each of the previous motions were filed with the Circuit Clerks office on Thursday, Oct. 17.
Subpoenas have been issued and served by both parties.
The jury trial will begin at 9:30 a.m. in the Scott County Courtroom, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019.