Justia Constitutional Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Mississippi

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Bruce Martin was found guilty of second-degree murder for the death of James Brown and was sentenced to serve forty years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Martin argued on appeal the trial court abused its discretion in allowing two autopsy photographs to be published to the jury. Finding no error, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed Martin’s conviction and sentence. View "Martin v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Chevelle McAlister was convicted by jury of the murder of Johnna Norris and of possession of a firearm as a convicted felon. McAlister appealed his conviction, arguing that his counsel provided constitutionally ineffective assistance. The Mississippi Supreme Court determined the trial court record did not support a finding of ineffective assistance of counsel. Also, the Court found no indication from the record or the briefs that an evidentiary hearing would enable McAlister to further develop any evidentiary proof of the alleged errors. Thus, McAlister's conviction was affirmed. View "McAlister v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Loren Ross was convicted of felony driving under the influence (DUI), fourth offense. The Circuit Court imposed the maximum sentence of ten years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC). Ross appealed, arguing that the trial court erred by not polling the jury to assure that the jurors had been unanimous in specifying the particular subsection of the DUI statute Ross had violated. He also argued the trial court erred by sentencing him to the maximum statutory penalty instead of ordering rehabilitative treatment for his alcoholism. Finding no error, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed Ross’ conviction and sentence. View "Ross v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Edward Ware was convicted of possession of a weapon by a convicted felon. Ware appealed, and his counsel filed a “Lindsey” brief, stating she searched the record but was unable to find any arguable issues for appellate review. Ware was given the opportunity to file a pro se brief, but he declined. After review of the record, and finding no arguable issues, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed Ware’s conviction. View "Ware v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Bobby Osbourne was convicted of aggravated assault, following a jury trial. Osbourne appealed, claiming that his trial counsel was constitutionally ineffective for numerous reasons: (1) for failing to move for a mistrial after discovering at trial that the handwritten notes taken by one of investigators, who had taken a statement from Osbourne, had not been provided to Osbourne’s defense before trial; (2) for failing to investigate possible exculpatory evidence; (3) for failing to perfect Osbourne’s direct appeal; and (4) for failing to obtain video evidence that corroborated Osbourne’s trial testimony. The State argued the only ineffective-assistance claim that could be addressed on this record was the claim that Osbourne’s trial counsel failed to perfect a direct appeal from Osbourne’s conviction. Accordingly, the State declined to stipulate that the record was adequate to address Osbourne’s remaining ineffective-assistance claims. The Mississippi Supreme Court agreed with the State: given the record before the Supreme Court, it addressed only the ineffective-assistance claim pertaining to trial counsel’s purported failure to perfect a direct appeal, and found no merit to Osbourne’s contention it entitled him to relief. View "Osbourne v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Charles Kuebler appealed the denial of his petition for writ of habeas corpus. Kuebler alleged the employees of the Jackson Detention Center (“JDC”) confiscated and photocopied his legal work, refused to let him meet with his attorneys, and eavesdropped on confidential attorney-client conversations. The circuit court found that Kuebler had not presented sufficient proof to support claims of violations of his constitutional rights and found no merit to the claims. After reviewing Kuebler’s petition and the evidence presented, the Mississippi Supreme Court found the circuit court did not err in denying the petition and affirmed. View "Kuebler v. Mason" on Justia Law

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Richard Morrow was convicted of fondling and sentenced as a habitual offender to life in prison without parole. Morrow’s trial counsel did not file a direct appeal. Nevertheless, the trial court allowed Morrow to proceed with an out of time appeal. Morrow raised four issues on appeal: (1) whether the trial court erred in allowing testimony and comments about DNA evidence; (2) whether the victim’s nonverbal responses were ambiguous and therefore insufficient to support the verdict; (3) whether he received ineffective assistance of counsel; and (4) whether cumulative error requires reversal. Finding no reversible error, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed. View "Morrow v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Following a disciplinary proceeding, Meloney Harbour’s minor son, T.D.H., was suspended from school and placed in an alternative school. The chancery court initially reversed and rendered the decision of the Tupelo Public School District Board of Trustees after finding that the deprivation of an attorney at the initial disciplinary hearing, as well as the failure to state the applicable standard of proof, violated T.D.H.’s due process rights. After a Mississippi Rule of Civil Procedure 59(a) motion, the chancery court amended its judgment to remand the case instead of rendering it. Harbour then filed a Mississippi Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) motion and, for the first time, challenged the constitutionality of Mississippi Code Section 37-9-71. Harbour contended the statute contained an unconstitutional standard of proof: substantial evidence rather than clear and convincing evidence. Harbour did not notice the attorney general of the constitutional challenge to the statute. Finding that Harbour failed to meet her burden under Rule 60(b), the chancery court denied the motion. Harbour then appealed that ruling. Finding no reversible error, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the chancery court’s denial of the Rule 60(b) motion. View "Harbour v. Tupelo Public School District" on Justia Law

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A Mississippi circuit court denied Anthony Carr’s petition for post-conviction relief, finding that Carr did not prove he was intellectually disabled. Carr was convicted on four counts of capital murder and sentenced to death. He argued the Eighth Amendment to the federal constitution prohibited the execution of intellectually disabled persons. Finding no clear error in the circuit court’s judgment, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed. View "Carr v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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A grand jury indicted, and a jury convicted, Gerome Montreal Moore for the capital murder of Carolyn Temple during the commission of a robbery. He was sentenced to life without parole. On appeal, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the conviction, but vacated the sentence. The Court determined Moore needed to be resentenced by a jury under Mississippi Code Section 99-19-101. "The jury will determine if Moore should be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole or life imprisonment with eligibility for parole. If the jury determines that Moore should be eligible for parole, Moore is to be sentenced to life imprisonment with eligibility for parole, notwithstanding the provisions of Mississippi Code Section 47-7-3(1)(e)." View "Moore v. Mississippi" on Justia Law