Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Mississippi

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Richard Green was convicted for the attempted murder and kidnapping of his wife, Cathleen Green (“Cathy”). Green appealed, arguing that the State presented insufficient evidence to convict him of both counts. After review, the Mississippi Supreme Court found a reasonable juror could have found that the State had proved, beyond a reasonable doubt, each element of both convictions based on the testimony, evidence, and applicable law. Therefore, it affirmed Green’s convictions and sentences. View "Green v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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On December 23, 2013, Abdur Ambrose, Stevie Ambrose, and Orlander Dedeaux were indicted for capital murder of Robert Trosclair with the underlying felony being kidnapping. The trial court severed the case for separate trials. Ambrose proceeded to trial on June 15, 2015. Following the culpability phase of trial, a jury found Ambrose guilty of capital murder. Following the penalty phase of trial, the jury imposed the death penalty. Ambrose appealed, raising twelve assignments of error. Finding only one harmless error, the Mississippi Supreme Court found no other reversible error and affirmed Ambrose's conviction and sentence. View "Ambrose v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Charles Blake was convicted of sexually battering a seven-year-old child during a family barbeque. He was sentenced to life in prison. On appeal, Blake argued the judge made several evidentiary errors that entitled him to a new trial. The Mississippi Supreme Court determined evidence that Blake sexually penetrated the child's anus with his finger, or, as the child put it, dug “in his butt," was so overwhelming as to render any alleged evidentiary error harmless. View "Blake v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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In 1997, Eric Kennedy and Nakiea Sutton were indicted for capital murder. The charges stemmed from the burglary and subsequent murder of Thomas Ward.The Mississippi Court of Appeals affirmed the Hinds County Circuit Court’s order denying Eric Kennedy’s motion for an out-of-time appeal. Kennedy’s petition for a writ of certiorari was granted. Because the Mississippi Supreme Court previously found Kennedy’s appeal to have been timely, the Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals’ decision and remanded the case to the appellate court for an appeal on the merits. View "Kennedy v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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During Fiscal Year 2017, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant directed State Fiscal Officer Laura Jackson to reduce the budgets of various state agencies. In response, State Representative Bryant W. Clark and State Senator John Horhn brought a declaratory-judgment action against the Governor seeking preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, a writ of mandamus ordering the Governor to reverse the reductions, and a declaration that Mississippi Code Section 27-104-13 (Rev. 2017) was facially unconstitutional. After an expedited hearing, the chancellor denied the motions for injunctive relief and dismissed the complaint with prejudice. Representative Clark and Senator Horhn appealed. The Mississippi Supreme Court found the budget reductions were an exercise of the executive’s core constitutional power. Therefore, it affirmed the chancellor’s final order because Representative Clark and Senator Horhn failed to overcome the strong presumption that Section 27-104-13 was constitutional. View "Clark v. Bryant" on Justia Law

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Adrian Montgomery and Terome O’Neal were drinking beer and liquor and smoking marijuana in a park. An eyewitness saw O’Neal knock Montgomery’s joint to the ground, which prompted Montgomery to angrily attack O’Neal. Paramedics later found O’Neal on the ground unconscious. He died days later in the hospital of multiple blunt-force trauma. Montgomery was indicted for deliberate-design murder but convicted on the lesser-included crime of depraved-heart murder. The judge granted a mistrial when the State learned (after the jury had been empaneled) the medical examiner who had conducted O’Neal’s autopsy had a sudden family emergency, rendering him unavailable. Montgomery argued his second trial placed him in double jeopardy because there had been no manifest necessity for the mistrial. In affirming Montgomery's convictions, the Mississippi Supreme Court determined the medical examiner was a key witness whose unavailability was unanticipated by the State. And due to the unknown and open-ended nature of the emergency, a continuance did not appear to be a reasonable option. So there was manifest necessity to declare a mistrial. View "Montgomery v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Frankie Jones was indicted for one count of first degree murder of Billy Ray Covington and one count of felon in possession of a firearm. A jury found Jones guilty on both counts, and the trial court sentenced him as a habitual offender under Mississippi Code Section 99-19-81 to life for the murder conviction and ten years for the felon in possession of a firearm conviction, with the sentences to be served concurrently. Jones appealed, but finding no reversible error, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed. View "Jones v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Terry Hill was convicted on one count of robbery, two counts of kidnapping, and one count of sexual battery. Hill raised one issue on appeal: whether the trial court erred in denying his attorney’s motion to withdraw and Hill’s motions for new counsel. Because of the defendant’s actions prior to and at trial, and because of the substantial evidence against Hill, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the trial court. View "Hill v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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This appeal arose from the Hinds County, Mississippi Circuit Court’s order granting in part Richard Chapman’s motion for post-conviction relief (PCR), following the Mississippi Supreme Court’s mandate in Chapman v. Mississippi, 167 So. 3d 1170 (Miss. 2015) (Chapman IV). In a five-to-four decision, a majority of the Court found that no direct appeal was taken from Chapman’s 1982 conviction for rape and life sentence, and ordered the trial court to conduct an evidentiary hearing to determine if the record and transcript from the jury trial still existed, and if not, whether something equivalent could be reconstructed. The parties reconstructed much of the record on remand, and the trial court granted Chapman leave to file an out-of-time appeal from his 1982 rape conviction and life sentence. Chapman appealed that ruling, claiming: (1) the record was less than adequate to allow an acceptable appeal to be prepared. Chapman maintains his trial counsel was constitutionally deficient for failing to file an appeal, or even a notice of appeal, even though Chapman claimed he paid counsel to do so; and (2) a life sentence imposed on a sixteen-year-old for a crime that was not a homicide constituted cruel and unusual punishment. Chapman argued his 1982 rape conviction should be reversed and the case dismissed or, in the alternative, remanded for a new trial. Having reviewed the reconstructed record, the Supreme Court found Chapman was not entitled to an out-of-time appeal. The Court confirmed: (1) Chapman’s trial record was not destroyed, as Chapman claimed throughout his multiple PCR petitions; and (2) Chapman had three years from April 17, 1984, when Mississippi’s Uniform Post-Conviction Collateral Relief Act (UPCCRA) went into effect, to petition for an out-of-time appeal but failed to do so. View "Richard Chapman v. State of Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Rickie Omar Smith was indicted on one count of armed robbery and one count of burglary of a dwelling. The jury found Smith guilty on both counts, and the circuit court sentenced Smith to thirty years for armed robbery and twenty-five years for burglary of a dwelling, with the sentences to run concurrently. Following the denial of Smith’s post trial motions, he appealed, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to sustain the jury’s verdict for armed robbery. Because the evidence was sufficient to sustain the jury’s verdict for armed robbery, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed. View "Smith v. Mississippi" on Justia Law