Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Mississippi

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Shortly after the adoption of its comprehensive zoning ordinance and map in 2014, in June 2015, the City of Ridgeland (“the City”) adopted an amendment creating as a permitted use in general commercial (“C-2”) districts a Large Master Planned Commercial Development (“LMPCD”). The amendment allowed uses previously prohibited in C-2 districts and created an opportunity for the potential location of a Costco Wholesale (“Costco”). Appellants were residents of the City who lived in nearby neighborhoods; they appealed the City’s decision, arguing that the amendments constituted illegal rezoning and/or spot zoning. The Mississippi Supreme Court reversed and remanded, finding that because the City amended its zoning ordinance shortly after adopting a new comprehensive zoning ordinance and map in order to accommodate Costco, substantially changing the uses previously allowed in a C-2 district without showing a substantial change in neighborhood character, the amendments constituted an illegal rezoning. In addition, because the amendments were entirely designed to suit Costco, the amendments constituted illegal spot-zoning as well. Accordingly, the circuit court erred in finding that the Costco amendments were not arbitrary and capricious. View "Beard v. City of Ridgeland" on Justia Law

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A jury convicted Everett Moore of second-degree murder for the 2015 shooting and killing Norris Smith. The Circuit Court sentenced Moore to thirty years’ imprisonment. A majority of the Mississippi Supreme Court determined the trial court erred by denying Moore the circumstantial evidence jury instruction to which he was entitled. Thus, it reversed his conviction and remanded the case for a new trial. View "Moore v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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In July 2014, a jury found Dominic Robinson guilty of three counts of aggravated assault, and he was sentenced to serve a total of thirty years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Robinson appealed his convictions, arguing that the trial court erred in its evidentiary rulings and instructions to the jury and that his convictions were not supported by the weight of the evidence. In addition to those issues, which were raised by the Office of Indigent Appeals, Robinson filed a pro se supplemental brief raising eleven additional assignments of error. Finding no reversible error, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed Robinson’s convictions and sentences. View "Robinson v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs John Davis and Shad Denson filed a complaint seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against the City of Jackson, Mississippi (“City”). The plaintiffs, both taxicab drivers, sought: (1) a declaratory judgment that the City’s taxicab ordinances violate the Mississippi Constitution; and (2) an injunction to prevent the City from denying the plaintiffs a Certificate of Public Necessity for their failure to comply with the City’s ordinances. The City filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiffs’ complaint for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, citing Mississippi Code Section 11-51-75 (Rev. 2012), which required a bill of exceptions to be filed and transferred to circuit court when the complaining party was aggrieved by a discretionary action of a municipal governing authority. The chancery court granted the City’s motion to dismiss, finding it lacked jurisdiction to consider the case. The plaintiffs appealed. The Mississippi Supreme Court found the dismissal for lack of jurisdiction was proper, but for a different reason: plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge the constitutionality of the City’s taxi ordinances because they failed to file or complete the required application to start a taxicab company in Jackson. View "Davis v. City of Jackson" on Justia Law

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A jury sentenced Willie Russell to death for murdering a correctional officer. Russell later claimed he was intellectually disabled and thus could not be executed under Atkins v.Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2002). In 2014, the trial court set an Atkins hearing to determine if Russell was intellectually disabled. Prior to the hearing, the State moved to assess Russell based on his claimed intellectual disability. But Russell opposed the State’s expert conducting the evaluation; years earlier, Russell had undergone psychological testing ordered in a separate aggravated-assault case. But that testing was for his competency to stand trial, not assessing intellectual disability. Although the State had initially proposed that the 2006 assessment cover both issues, Russell’s attorney also objected back then to the State evaluating Russell’s Atkins claim in that proceeding. So Russell was never evaluated on the specific criteria for intellectual disability under Atkins. The record showd both Russell and the State understood that the 2006 testing would not serve as his complete Atkins assessment. Even the State's expert felt additional testing was required. Still, the trial court denied the State’s motion to evaluate Russell, concluding the prior testing was sufficient. "Consequently, the court’s denial led to what was essentially a one-sided Atkins hearing." At the end of the hearing, the trial court ruled that Russell was intellectually disabled under Atkins and Chase v. Mississippi, 873 So.2d 1013 (Miss. 2004), and vacated his death sentence. The State appealed. After review, the Mississippi Supreme Court found the trial court reversibly erred: the trial judge abused her discretion by denying the State’s well-supported motion to evaluate Russell prior to the Atkins hearing. View "Mississippi v. Russell" on Justia Law

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Jerry McGill saw someone in Bobby Brewer's Volvo and called police. McGill pursued the man on foot, later identified as Charles Naylor. Naylor had in his possession Brewer’s global positioning system (GPS) and an insurance card that bore Brewer’s name. He was convicted of burglary of an automobile and was sentenced, as an habitual offender pursuant to Mississippi Code Section 99-19-81 (Rev. 2015), to seven years’ imprisonment without parole. On appeal, Naylor claimed the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction. Finding no merit in Naylor’s claim on appeal, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed. View "Naylor v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Two officers with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP) observed Donald Bernius speeding on the Tchoutacabouffa River in Harrison County, Mississippi. Prior to effecting a stop, the officers ordered Bernius to move his boat to what they contended was a safer location on the river; but Bernius fled in the opposite direction. Bernius’s vessel collided with a boat operated by Christopher Webb. The collision killed Webb and seriously injured Shane Webb. Two hours after the collision, Bernius’s blood-alcohol content was .25 percent. Kathleen Webb, individually and on behalf of Christopher Webb’s wrongful-death beneficiaries, and Candace Webb, as Shane Webb’s guardian, filed a lawsuit pursuant to the Mississippi Tort Claims Act (MTCA) against the MDWFP, arguing that the officers had acted in reckless disregard for the safety of others. After a bench trial, the Circuit Court agreed and ruled in favor of the Webbs. The Mississippi Court of Appeals reversed and rendered a judgment in favor of the MDWFP, finding that the evidence did not demonstrate that the officers had acted with reckless disregard. The Mississippi Supreme Court granted Candace Webb’s Petition for certiorari review. Finding that the Mississippi Court of Appeals misapplied the applicable standard of review and substituted its judgment for that of the trial court, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of that court and reinstated and affirmed the Circuit Court's judgment. View "Mississippi Dept. of Wildlife, Fisheries &Parks v. Webb" on Justia Law

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Two officers with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP) observed Donald Bernius speeding on the Tchoutacabouffa River in Harrison County, Mississippi. Prior to effecting a stop, the officers ordered Bernius to move his boat to what they contended was a safer location on the river; but Bernius fled in the opposite direction. Bernius’s vessel collided with a boat operated by Christopher Webb. The collision killed Webb and seriously injured Shane Webb. Two hours after the collision, Bernius’s blood-alcohol content was .25 percent. Kathleen Webb, individually and on behalf of Christopher Webb’s wrongful-death beneficiaries, and Candace Webb, as Shane Webb’s guardian, filed a lawsuit pursuant to the Mississippi Tort Claims Act (MTCA) against the MDWFP, arguing that the officers had acted in reckless disregard for the safety of others. After a bench trial, the Circuit Court agreed and ruled in favor of the Webbs. The Mississippi Court of Appeals reversed and rendered a judgment in favor of the MDWFP, finding that the evidence did not demonstrate that the officers had acted with reckless disregard. The Mississippi Supreme Court granted Candace Webb’s Petition for certiorari review. Finding that the Mississippi Court of Appeals misapplied the applicable standard of review and substituted its judgment for that of the trial court, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of that court and reinstated and affirmed the Circuit Court's judgment. View "Mississippi Dept. of Wildlife, Fisheries &Parks v. Webb" on Justia Law

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After exhausting the administrative remedies program within the Mississippi Department of Corrections, Forrest Thomas III appealed to the circuit court for review of the Department’s decision denying him trusty time credit and meritorious earned time credit, the denial of which was based upon his conviction of kidnapping a child under the age of sixteen and classification as a sex offender. The circuit court denied relief too, so Thomas appealed to the Mississippi Supreme Court. After review, the Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court's affirmance of the Department's decision with respect to credit on his kidnapping conviction. The case was remanded for the circuit court to order the Department to run Thomas’s sentences consistently with the sentencing orders. View "Thomas v. Mississippi Dept. of Corrections" on Justia Law

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After exhausting the administrative remedies program within the Mississippi Department of Corrections, Forrest Thomas III appealed to the circuit court for review of the Department’s decision denying him trusty time credit and meritorious earned time credit, the denial of which was based upon his conviction of kidnapping a child under the age of sixteen and classification as a sex offender. The circuit court denied relief too, so Thomas appealed to the Mississippi Supreme Court. After review, the Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court's affirmance of the Department's decision with respect to credit on his kidnapping conviction. The case was remanded for the circuit court to order the Department to run Thomas’s sentences consistently with the sentencing orders. View "Thomas v. Mississippi Dept. of Corrections" on Justia Law