Articles Posted in Mississippi Supreme Court

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After a jury trial, Stevenson Ford was convicted of murder, and he was sentenced him to life without the possibility of parole. Ford appealed, arguing he was entitled to a mistrial after an officer testified to hearsay that previously had been ruled inadmissible, that he was entitled to a mistrial due to the jury's premature deliberations, and that the verdict was against the overwhelming weight of the evidence. Finding no error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Ford v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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James McCoy appealed his convictions and sentences for two counts of armed robbery. McCoy's appellate counsel argues that McCoy's sentences are excessive and the result of vindictiveness, that McCoy was denied a fair trial due to the prosecutor's use of the golden-rule argument, and that McCoy received ineffective assistance of counsel at trial. McCoy filed a pro se supplemental brief, raising four additional assignments of error. But finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed McCoy's convictions and sentences. View "McCoy v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Dexter Fulton was convicted for receiving stolen property. The Court of Appeals affirmed Fulton’s conviction and sentence on direct appeal. The Supreme Court granted Fulton’s petition for writ of certiorari to determine whether Fulton’s indictment was fatally defective and whether the trial court erred in allowing an amendment of substance to Fulton’s indictment. The Supreme Court found error as to both issues and reversed the judgments of the Court of Appeals and the circuit court. The conviction was vacated. View "Fulton v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Lyndon Myers was charged and convicted on multiple counts of armed robbery stemming from the 2012 robbery of a Madison Dollar Tree store. Myers raised five alleged errors from trial on appeal of his conviction. The Supreme Court found none and affirmed his convictions and sentences. View "Myers v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Daryl Shinn was convicted of armed robbery for the 2011 robbery of Tiya's Market in Columbus. He was sentenced to twenty years in prison. He appealed, arguing that his conviction was contrary to the overwhelming weight of the evidence. The Supreme Court disagreed and affirmed his conviction. View "Shinn v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Based on a citizen’s complaint that "young men . . . young black men . . . are standing out on the sidewalks, corners, selling drugs" on a street corner in Greenville, police proceeded to that area, where they spotted Tazarius Cooper, a young, black male. The police officer turned on his blue lights, exited his vehicle, and attempted to conduct an investigatory stop by ordering Cooper to "come here and let me talk to you." Before the officers could restrain him, Cooper ran. The officers gave chase, following Cooper into a home, where Cooper abandoned a bag containing a blue substance that tested positive for the drug known as ecstasy. The trial court denied Cooper’s motion to suppress the evidence, and Cooper was convicted. Upon review, the Supreme Court found that the citizen’s complaint was insufficient to establish a reasonable suspicion of Cooper, or to conduct a Terry stop. But because Cooper was not stopped, and because Cooper lacked standing to challenge the search of a home which did not belong to him, the Court affirmed the trial court’s decision. View "Cooper v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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In 2011, defendant was pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI) after an officer observed him weaving between lanes. He resisted arrest and subsequently was indicted on two counts of assaulting a law-enforcement officer, possession of marijuana, possession of cocaine, and a first DUI. The indictment later was amended to reflect his habitual-offender status. The assault charges eventually were dropped. Defendant engaged Gerald Green, a Tennessee attorney, to represent him. Green submitted a verified application and affidavit to appear pro hac vice, listing the enumerated requirements of Mississippi Rule of Appellate Procedure 46(b)(5), including the statement that Green "has associated Attorney Daniel O. Lofton, a member in good standing of the Mississippi Bar as local counsel in this case . . . ." The application included a Certificate of Local Attorney signed by Daniel Lofton and a Certificate of Payment for the pro hoc vice fee of $200 to the Clerk of the Mississippi Supreme Court. Green submitted a Motion to Dismiss Prosecution and a Request for Discovery on defendant's behalf. These two motions were signed and submitted only by Green. Additionally, Green's bar number as listed next to his signature on these motions did not indicate in which state Green was licensed. Green represented defendant at an August 7, 2012, hearing in which the court denied the Motion to Dismiss and granted the State's Motion to Amend the Indictment charging defendant as a habitual offender under Mississippi Code Section 99-19-81. Green had not at that time been approved to proceed pro hac vice, and associated attorney Lofton was not present at the hearing. The court subsequently denied an August 17, 2012, Motion to Continue Trial filed by Green. After the jury was selected, the court approved Green's application to proceed pro hac vice and waived the requirement that local counsel be present during trial. The State had no objection to the trial proceeding without the presence of local counsel. After a one-day trial, defendant was convicted of possession of marijuana, possession of cocaine, and first-offense DUI. The Supreme Court never received an order approving Green's admission to proceed pro hac vice. Green stated at the post-trial motions hearing that "I didn't submit any order. I didn't think anything else was required after we had our proceedings in this court. They [Mississippi Supreme Court Clerk] sent back the cases that I had been in, and they approved that I had paid the money." Daniel Lofton, the associated attorney, testified at the post-trial motions hearing that he understood his role and obligations to be limited to certifying that Green was an attorney in good standing in Tennessee on Green's pro hoc vice application, and that he would be notified if his involvement was further required. Lofton never met or communicated with defendant. At the post-trial motions hearing, defendant asserted that he never knew Green was not licensed to practice in Mississippi. Defendant hired a new attorney immediately following the trial and was represented by the new attorney at the post-trial motions hearing, sentencing hearing, and on this appeal. The Supreme Court reversed defendant's convictions and remanded for a new trial due to the trial court's and counsel's failure to comply with Mississippi Rule of Appellate Procedure 46 governing the admission of foreign attorneys to practice pro hoc vice. Most significantly, the trial court erred in waiving the now-mandatory requirement that associated local counsel be present at trial. View "Newberry v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Hattie Hawkins was a nursing assistant at Heritage House Nursing Center. Deserie Edwards, a resident at Heritage House, suffered injuries while under Hawkins’s care. An investigation revealed that Hawkins had lifted Edwards by herself, knowing that two people were required to lift Edwards. Hawkins then improperly placed Edwards into a lift/sling and left her unattended. Edwards fell from the sling and suffered injuries, but Hawkins did not call for assistance. Hawkins was indicted for simple assault of a vulnerable person. Several days before trial, defense counsel demurred to the indictment on the grounds that it did not comport with Mississippi Code Section 97-3-7(1) and was an improper statement of the law. The circuit court dismissed the case saying the indictment failed to state a cause of action against the defendant. The State filed a motion to reconsider, which was denied. The State appealed. Upon review, the Supreme Court held the indictment was sufficient and that the trial judge erred by granting the demurrer. View "State of Mississippi v. Hattie Hawkins a/k/a Hattie M. Hawkins" on Justia Law

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This case arose from the City of Hattiesburg’s annexation of property in 2007. Pearson’s Fireworks leased land which was part of the annexed property for the purpose of selling fireworks during the Fourth of July and New Year’s holiday seasons. Prior to the annexation, the City passed an ordinance prohibiting the sale of fireworks within city limits. After the annexation, the City notified Pearson’s that it could no longer sell fireworks on the newly annexed land. Pearson’s then filed suit against the City. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of the City, and Pearson’s appealed. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Pearson's Fireworks, Inc. v. City of Hattiesburg" on Justia Law

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Nancy Downey was convicted by a jury of burglary of a dwelling and first-degree and was given two concurrent twelve-year sentences. Following the denial of Downey’s motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict or for a new trial, she appealed. The Court of Appeals affirmed her convictions and sentences. In her petition for writ of certiorari, Downey argued that the trial court erred by failing to suppress her statement to law enforcement officers after she had invoked her Miranda rights. Finding that Downey’s constitutional rights were violated, the Supreme Court reversed her convictions and sentences and remanded this case for a new trial. View "Downey v. Mississippi" on Justia Law