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Richard Gerald Jordan was sentenced to death following his conviction on charges of kidnapping and murdering Edwina Marter in 1976. In his Second Successive Petition for Post-Conviction Relief, Jordan challenged the Mississippi Department of Corrections’ (MDOC) using midazolam as the first drug in its three-drug lethal-injection protocol. According to Jordan, midazolam did not meet the requirements set forth in Mississippi Code Section 99-19-51(1) (Supp. 2018), which directed MDOC to use “an appropriate anesthetic or sedative” as the first drug. Because Jordan failed to provide sufficient support to warrant an evidentiary hearing, the Mississippi Supreme Court denied his petition. View "Jordan v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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In this, Thomas Edwin Loden Jr.’s fourth petition for post-conviction relief, he challenged the Mississippi Department of Corrections’ use of midazolam in its lethal-injection protocol. He claimed that midazolam was not an “appropriate anesthetic or sedative” that, “if properly administered in a sufficient quantity, is likely to render the condemned inmate unconscious, so that the execution process should not entail a substantial risk of severe pain” under Mississippi Code Section 99-19-51 (Supp. 2018). Loden requested the Mississippi Supreme Court to enter an order forbidding the State from using any drug, including midazolam, as the first drug in its lethal-injection series. The Court determined, from review of Loden's filings and affidavits on whether a 500-milligram dose of midazolam met Mississippi’s statutory definition of an “appropriate anesthetic or sedative,” Loden offered no more than the ipse dixit arguments of his expert, Craig W. Stevens, Ph.D. "Loden has failed to carry his burden of proof in presenting a substantial showing of the denial of a state or federal right as required by Mississippi Code Section 99-39-27 (Rev. 2015), for the portions of his affidavits related to the efficacy of a 500-milligram dose of midazolam are a 'sham' and are not supported by established medical literature." Moreover, the United States Supreme Court considered the same arguments presented in Loden's petition and rejected them. Accordingly, Loden's petition for PCT was denied. View "Loden v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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At issue before the Mississippi Supreme Court in this case was whether NRG Wholesale Generation’s proffered expert used an acceptable method to determine the “true value” of its power plant in computing ad valorem tax. The expert used a mixture of the sales-comparison approach, the income approach, and the cost approach to determine the true value of the facility. Lori Kerr, the tax assessor for Choctaw County, and Choctaw County, Mississippi (collectively, the “County”), contended that Mississippi law mandates a trended historical cost-less-depreciation approach to calculate the true value of industrial personal property. The circuit court found in favor of the County and excluded NRG’s proffered expert testimony. NRG argued the circuit court abused its discretion. In addition, NRG also argued the circuit court erred in denying its motion to change venue because because many of the jurors knew the county officials named as defendants in this case, a fair trial in Choctaw County was impossible. The Supreme Court held the Mississippi Department of Revenue (the “DOR”) regulation controlled and that NRG’s expert applied an unacceptable method to determine true value. Therefore, the circuit court did not err in excluding NRG’s proffered expert testimony. Additionally, because NRG was afforded a fair and impartial jury, the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion to change venue. View "NRG Wholesale Generation LP v. Kerr" on Justia Law

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In a contract dispute between film producer Adam Rosenfelt and the Mississippi Development Authority ("MDA"), Rosenfelt claimed the MDA promised loan guarantees so he could make movies in Mississippi. He made one film, which was not financially successful, and the MDA refused to guarantee the loan for his next project. Rosenfelt claimed the MDA breached a contract with him, personally. The Mississippi Supreme Court concluded Rosenfelt lacked standing to file suit: the actual documents showed any agreement was between the MDA and one or more LLCs, not Rosenfelt personally. Furthermore, the Court determined no error has been shown as to the dismissal of one of those LLCs, Element Studios, LLC, for want of standing. View "Rosenfelt v. Mississippi Development Authority" on Justia Law

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The property owner failed to timely pay his taxes or to redeem them within two years of the tax sale of his property. The owner objected to the sale, asserting that he was deprived of his property without the statutorily required prior notice. The Mississippi Supreme Court found the chancery clerk’s first notice was returned undelivered. At that point, by statute, the clerk was required to diligently search for a different address for the property owner. But despite having another address readily available in the county’s land records, no notices were ever mailed to that address before the redemption period ended. Thus, the clerk’s search and inquiry did not strictly comply with the applicable law. The Supreme Court reversed the chancellor’s judgment affirming the tax sale and confirming title in the tax sale purchaser, and set aside the tax sale as void. View "Campbell Properties, Inc. v. Cook" on Justia Law

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Brian King was indicted as a habitual offender and charged with one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. After being found guilty, King was sentenced to a term of ten years without the possibility of parole. King argued on appeal that the trial court erred in denying his request for a psychological examination and in allowing the introduction of evidence of prior bad acts. Finding no error, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed King’s conviction and sentence. View "King v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Michael and Vickie Kansler moved to Mississippi from New York for Michael’s job and, over the following years, exercised stock options stemming from that employment. The Kanslers took the position that the stock options’ income was taxable only in Mississippi, which reduced their tax burden significantly. New York saw things differently and found a substantial portion of the income taxable by New York. This liability to another state would have entitled the Kanslers to a credit on their Mississippi taxes worth more than $250,000. However, by the time the New York audit was finished, the Mississippi statute of limitations barred the Kanslers from amending their Mississippi returns. They argued the Mississippi statute of limitations unconstitutionally discriminated against interstate commerce. The Mississippi Supreme Court determined Mississippi’s treatment of the statute of limitations for amending tax returns was "unremarkable" and appeared to be shared with many other states. The Kanslers’ dormant Commerce Clause argument, on the other hand, was novel, and depended on an unprecedented and erroneous attempt to apply the “internal consistency test,” intended to evaluate the apportionment of taxes, to the collateral effects of a statute of limitations. The Court held that the challenge was instead governed by the discrimination/Pike v. Bruce Church, Inc. 397 U.S. 137 (1070) balancing test employed by the United States Supreme Court in Bendix Autolite Corp. v. Midwesco Enterprises Inc., 486 U.S. 888 (1988), the only United States Supreme Court case to scrutinize a statute of limitations under the dormant Commerce Clause. The Court affirmed the Mississippi Department of Revenue’s decision to refuse the refund request. View "Kansler v. Mississippi Department of Revenue" on Justia Law

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Dalton Trigg and his father, Dr. Stephen Trigg, sued Dalton’s former criminal-defense attorney, Steven Farese Sr., alleging professional malpractice. The circuit court held that the claims were premature because Dalton had not yet secured postconviction relief from the underlying conviction, and it dismissed the complaint without prejudice. The issue this case presented for the Mississippi Supreme Court's review centered on whether a convicted criminal could sue his former defense attorney for negligently causing him to be convicted while that conviction still stood. The Court held that a convict must “exonerate” himself by obtaining relief from his conviction or sentence before he could pursue a claim against his defense attorney for causing him to be convicted or sentenced more harshly than he should have been. To the extent prior decisions of the Court or the Court of Appeals suggested otherwise, they were overruled. View "Trigg v. Farese" on Justia Law

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When Tammy Webster completed her National Guard training, she requested the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP) renew her contract as a part-time dispatcher. When MDWFP refused to rehire her, Webster filed a Uniformed Services Employment and Remployment Rights Act (USERRA) claim in state court, successfully proving MDWFP violated her federal statutory right to reemployment. Though the prevailing party, Webster appealed, challenging both her compensation award of one year’s worth of lost part-time wages, and her attorney-fee award. The Mississippi Supreme Court held the trial court did not err in limiting Webster’s compensation to one year of lost wages: Webster had been employed under yearly contracts that were not automatically renewable, and MDWFP was under no statutory obligation to employ her indefinitely. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the remainder of the judgment because: (1) the trial court failed to rule on Webster’s liquidated-damages claim, even though Webster presented evidence MDWFP’s USERRA violation was “willful,” as that term is used in the statute; (2) the trial court arbitrarily assigned $2,800 as a reasonable attorney fee, without considering the time spent by or hourly rate of Webster’s counsel or any other relevant factor; and (3) the trial court taxed Webster her respective court costs, even though USERRA prohibits claimants from being taxed with costs. View "Webster v. Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries & Parks" on Justia Law

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John Terry sued his former court-appointed attorney Oby Rogers claiming fraud, legal malpractice, and violation of his civil rights under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The trial court granted Rogers’s motion for summary judgment on all claims and held that the Mississippi Tort Claims Act (MTCA) was applicable because Rogers’s was an “employee” for the purposes of the MTCA. Finding no reversible error in the trial court’s judgment, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the grant of summary judgment. View "Terry v. Oby T. Rogers, PLLC" on Justia Law