Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

C-Murder: Rapper Lives His Lyrics

Sheriff "Pissed Off"

The release of C-Murder's new project drew the immediate wrath of Jefferson Parish's powerful and notoriously outspoken sheriff, Harry Lee. Never one to mince words, Lee, a self-styled "Chinese-American Cajun Cowboy," who has held the post since 1980, had gotten himself in hot water several times in the past with racially charged remarks in his overwhelmingly white, suburban parish. He once made international headlines by announcing that young black men cruising predominantly white neighborhoods "in rinky-dink cars" would be stopped and challenged by his deputies. Although his racial profiling policy was blasted by black activists and civil rights organizations, it added to his popularity among his constituents. He has been reelected six times, rarely against serious opposition.

"Nowhere was it ever mentioned that someone would be doing a commercial enterprise in the jail," Lee said. "I am pissed off that an attorney would trick me," he added, accusing Rakosky of aiding Corey in producing the CD/video in the jail without his permission. He alleged that the attorney smuggled in recording equipment for his rapper client and smuggled out copies of lyrics. Then Lee began demanding that the sheriff's office be given a percentage of the releases' royalties. "They used my jail. I think I'm entitled to some money," Lee said.

Rakosky countered that Lee, himself, had permitted Corey to be interviewed by news crews from two TV shows, and much of that footage was included in the music video. He admitted to having given Corey encouragement to do something with his otherwise idle jail time, and defended his client for using his time productively and creatively in the making of the CD/video. He admitted to recording about five hours of Corey rapping on tape. He also said that portions of the recording process were witnessed by jail personnel — sheriff's deputies — and none of them indicated Corey was doing anything improper.

Apparently still seething over what he perceived as an act of deception, Lee announced that Corey would be allowed no more TV interviews, including a request from MTV. He ordered Rakosky to bring nothing more than a pencil and notepad to further in-cell meetings with Corey, saying that hollow pens could be used to smuggle out song lyrics. Rakosky challenged this, saying there were times he would need to bring his files on the case to the jail. In a consent judgment issued by Sassone, Rakosky was allowed to bring case documents to the jail but she agreed with Lee's decision to require him to use a pencil. Rakosky grumbled but declined to make a further issue over it.

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