Articles Posted in Constitutional Law

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Groundworx,LLC, appealed a judgment dismissing its breach-of-contract action against the City of Hattiesburg. After reviewing the contract between Groundworx and the City, which Groundworx attached to its complaint, the Mississippi Supreme Court was left with “no doubt” that Groundworx’s complaint was properly dismissed for failure to state a claim. Even taking all of Groundworx’s allegations as true, Groundworx could cite no contractual provision the City allegedly breached. Even if Groundworx expended millions of dollars preparing to perform under the contract, it did so before securing the necessary financing to complete the project. And unfortunately for Groundworx, the contract was clear: if Groundworx did not secure financing by a certain date, the City had the right to terminate the contract. So the Court concluded Groundworx could prove no set of facts to show the City breached the contract. View "Groundworx, LLC v. City of Hattiesburg" on Justia Law

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Trevioun Briggs was convicted for robbery and witness-tampering. The Court of Appeals affirmed both convictions. Briggs petitioned the Mississippi Supreme Court for certiorari, which was granted to consider whether his indictment for the witness-tampering count was defective. Finding that the indictment fairly tracked the language of Mississippi Code Section 97-9-115, the Court affirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeals. View "Briggs v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Adofo Minka was held in direct criminal contempt by the Hinds County Circuit Court for unprofessional and contumacious behavior during the trial of his client which resulted in a mistrial. Minka was fined $100 and ordered to pay the costs of the jury in the amount of $1,350. Minka appealed, arguing: (1) he did not improperly comment during opening statements on a potential sentence his client might receive, which triggered a sua sponte objection from the trial court and was a key basis for the State’s request(s) for a mistrial; (2) his comments did not warrant criminal sanction because counsel have broad latitude during opening statements and closing arguments; (3) the record did not support a finding beyond a reasonable doubt that any of Minka’s comments or conduct constituted criminal contempt; and (4) even if the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s contempt and sanction order, the monetary fine was $650 more than it should have been; therefore, the sanction amount must be reversed, lowered, and rendered. The Supreme Court found no merit in any of the points of contention argued by Minka on appeal. View "Minka v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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In July 2004, a jury found Tyler Edmonds guilty of the murder of Joey Fulgham, who was his half-sister’s husband. In May 2007, the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed Edmonds’s conviction and remanded the case to the trial court for a new trial due to evidentiary errors. At his new trial in 2008, a jury found Edmonds not guilty. This appeal stemmed from Edmonds’s suit against the State under the Compensation to Victims of Wrongful Conviction and Imprisonment statutes codified in Mississippi Code Sections 11-44-1 to 11-44-15, which permitted a person wrongfully convicted and imprisoned to recover $50,000 for every year of wrongful incarceration. The circuit court concluded that Edmonds was not entitled to compensation because he made a false confession to police officers regarding his involvement with the murder, which equated to a fabrication of evidence. The Supreme Court determined the appropriate interpretation and application of Section 11-44- 7(1)(c), which provided that a plaintiff under the Compensation to Victims of Wrongful Conviction and Imprisonment Act must show he did not “fabricate evidence to bring about his conviction.” The second primary issue before the Court was whether Edmonds’s request for a jury trial should have been granted. On both issues, the Supreme Court held in favor of Edmonds and therefore remanded for further proceedings. View "Edmonds v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Kale Scott was indicted for one count of aggravated assault, and one count of murder. These charges were brought following a high school graduation party with over 200 attendees; one person was shot in the leg, and another was fatally shot five times in the back. Scott admitted he was the shooter. On appeal of his conviction, he challenged the sufficiency of the evidence presented at trial, and argued the jury’s verdict was against the overwhelming weight of the evidence. Finding no error, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed his convictions and sentences. View "Scott v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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A jury found Cortaia Washington guilty of intimidating a witness in violation of Mississippi Code Section 97-9-55. The circuit court sentenced Washington to serve two years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, with two months suspended and credit for time served. The circuit court denied Washington’s post-trial motions, and she appealed, challenging the weight of the evidence. Finding no reversible error, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed. View "Washington v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Ronald Shinstock appealed after he was convicted of selling methamphetamine conviction. He argued the trial court should have excluded some of the State’s evidence based on an alleged Fourth Amendment violation. Shinstock conceded he never asserted a Fourth Amendment claim in the trial court. The Mississippi Supreme Court found he forfeited that issue. And the record did not support a finding of plain error. The record also did not sufficiently support Shinstock’s claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. View "Shinstock v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Melvin Potts appealed his convictions of first-degree murder and motor-vehicle theft, arguing that the trial judge erred by providing additional instructions to the jury, not declaring a mistrial when the jury stated it was deadlocked, and granting and refusing certain jury instructions. Potts further argued insufficient evidence supported his conviction, and that his conviction was against the overwhelming weight of the evidence. Finding no error, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed. View "Potts v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Kelvin Ashford was indicted, tried, and found guilty by a jury on eight counts of sexual battery and two counts of fondling. He appealed, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence, arguing the verdict was against the overwhelming weight of the evidence, and that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. Finding no error, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed. View "Ashford v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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The Mississippi Supreme Court held Byron Perry’s constitutional and statutory rights to a speedy trial were not violated. Further, the Court found no merit in Perry’s argument that one of the two sentencing orders submitted by the State was insufficient to support a finding beyond a reasonable doubt that Perry was sentenced to one year or more and qualified as a habitual offender under Mississippi Code Section 99-19-81. A jury convicted Perry of aggravated assault and possession of a weapon by a previously convicted felon. The circuit court sentenced him as a habitual offender to twenty years for the aggravated-assault conviction and ten years for the weapon conviction, to run consecutively. Perry appealed, arguing that his constitutional and statutory rights to a speedy trial were violated and that the evidence was insufficient to support the trial court’s finding that he was a habitual offender. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed Perry’s convictions and sentences. View "Perry v. Mississippi" on Justia Law