Articles Posted in Constitutional 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

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Larry Knight was convicted of one count of molestation and was sentenced to serve fifteen years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC). Knight appealed, and his attorneys filed a brief under Lindsey v. Mississippi, 939 So. 2d 743 (2005), stating they searched the record but were unable to find any arguable issues for appellate review. Knight was given the opportunity to file a pro se brief, asked for more time, but ultimately filed nothing. The Mississippi Supreme Court reviewed the record and found no error. Accordingly, it affirmed the trial court's judgment. View "Knight v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Shannon Parker appealed his aggravated-assault conviction and enhanced sentence. Eric and Edna Burkett were standing outside their home in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, when a white pickup truck stopped in front of them. The driver got out, and the Burketts asked if he needed help. The man mumbled something, grabbed a rifle, and shot Eric, wounding him. The man also fired shots at Edna but missed. Soon after, the police found the white truck in a nearby ditch, tires still spinning. The driver, later identified as Parker, was arrested and later confirmed by the Burketts as the man who attacked them. Parker appeared to be under the influence. At the interviewing officer’s recommendation, Parker underwent a mental evaluation. The evaluation was performed by a licensed professional counselor. Parker told the counselor that he had previously been treated for anxiety and depression. The counselor concluded that Parker “was verbal and responsive” and that “[h]is thought processes were rational.” Although indicted on two counts of assault, the State elected to proceed only on the aggravated assault against Eric, with a five-year sentencing enhancement for using a firearm. A week before the scheduled trial, Parker planned to plead guilty. But at the hearing, Parker claimed he had no recollection of the crime, and that he could not verify the State’s recitation of the facts. Under the circumstances, the trial judge determined he could not accept Parker’s plea. Parker presented three issues on appeal: (1) the trial judge erred in allowing the State’s firearm expert to testify; (2) the trial judge abused his discretion in denying Parker’s motion for a mental evaluation; and (3) the firearm enhancement violated the constitutional prohibition against double jeopardy. While the appellate court unanimously agreed the first and third issues presented no reversible error, the court was equally divided on the second issue. Based on this split, the Mississippi Supreme Court granted Parker’s petition for certiorari review. Although Parker reasserted all three appellate issues in his petition, the Court limited its review to the issue of Parker’s request for a mental evaluation. The Court found that although given the opportunity to do so, Parker presented no concrete reason establishing the need for a mental evaluation to assist in the pursuit of a viable insanity defense. Instead, Parker offered only unsupported assertions of diminished capacity (a defense not recognized by Mississippi law). The Court thus affirmed. View "Parker v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Montrell Croft, a/k/a “G-Money,” was convicted by jury of “participating in or conducting or conspiring” in illegal gang activity, possession of a firearm by a felon, and attempted murder. Croft appealed. The Mississippi Supreme Court determined an instruction permitting a jury in a criminal case to find an element of a crime by a preponderance of the evidence constitutes plain error. Accordingly, it reversed and remanded this case for a new trial on whether Croft “participat[ed] in or conduct[ed] or conspir[ed]” in criminal gang activity beyond a reasonable doubt. Croft’s felon-in-possession and attempted-murder convictions and sentences were affirmed. View "Croft v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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David Lee Stanfield was convicted of aggravated assault and of felon in possession of a firearm. The sole issue before the Mississippi Supreme Court was whether the trial court erred in instructing the jury that self-defense is not a defense to the crime of felon in possession of a firearm. Finding it did not, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Stanfield v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Matthew Courtney appealed his conviction on one count of sexual battery. The trial court sentenced Courtney to serve a period of twenty-five years. Courtney argued that the statute of limitations barred his sexual battery conviction. Alternatively, Courtney argued that the delay in bringing him to trial violated his Sixth Amendment constitutional right to a speedy trial. The Mississippi Supreme Court determined Courtney did not preserve the statute of limitations argument; the Court could not find a speedy trial violation. Therefore, the Court affirmed Courtney's conviction and sentence. View "Courtney v. Mississippi" on Justia Law