Articles Posted in Constitutional 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

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Dr. Hosan Azomani seeks review of the Court of Appeals’ affirmance of his conviction and sentence for two counts of Medicaid fraud in violation of Mississippi Code Sections 43-13-213 and 43-13-215. Dr. Azomani practiced pediatric medicine under the name Children’s Medical Group of Greenville PLLC, in Greenville, Mississippi. In 2007, the Division of Medicaid conducted an audit of Dr. Azomani’s patient files, which revealed three coding errors. Though Dr. Azomani admitted to the errors, he claimed that he had not deliberately made the mistakes. The Mississippi Supreme Court granted certiorari to address venue and statute-of-limitations issues. Finding that venue was proper and that the claims were prosecuted within the statute of limitations, the Court affirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeals and affirmed the conviction and sentence of the trial court. View "Azomani v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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A circuit court judge ruled death-row inmate Kevin Scott was intellectually disabled and thus ineligible for the death penalty under the Eighth Amendment. The State appealed: (1) the trial judge ignored the mandate of the case before this, “Scott II,” which directed Scott take a specific malingering test before his intellectual disability hearing; (2) the trial judge abused his discretion when he permitted Scott’s experts to testify at the intellectual-disability hearing; and (3) the trial judge failed to make independent findings off act and conclusions of law when ruling Scott intellectually disabled. After review, the Mississippi Supreme Court found no reversible error: the requirement to take a specific malingering test was expressly overruled four months after the mandate in Scott II. The admission of Scott’s experts was within the sound discretion of the trial court. Finally, though the State had ample opportunity, it made no attempt to supplement the record to prove its allegation that the trial judge recited Scott’s proposed findings instead of making his own independent findings. The Court affirmed the order vacating Scott’s death sentence based on the finding of intellectual disability. The case was remanded for resentencing. View "Mississippi v. Scott" on Justia Law

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Defendant Zachary Cozart was convicted by jury of manslaughter, for which he was sentenced to thirty years in the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Cozart appealed, arguing Mississippi Code Section 97-3-25(b) (Rev. 2014) was not enacted until after defendant’s crime, therefore it was a violation of the Ex Post Facto Clause of the state constitution. The Court of Appeals found that although the statute at issue here was not enacted until after defendant’s crime, he waived any objection to a harsher sentence when he agreed to a jury instruction that mirrored the revised manslaughter penalty statute. The Mississippi Supreme Court found defendant’s sentence under the amended statute amounted to an ex post facto violation, reversed the sentence, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Cozart v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Dr. Andy Barlow was disciplined by the Mississippi State Board of Chiropractic Examiners for advertising in violation of the statutes governing chiropractors. The complaint alleged that Dr. Barlow advertised using professional designations other than “chiropractor,” “doctor of chiropractic,” “D.C.,” or “chiropractic physician”; Dr. Barlow advertised as D.C., and also as DACNB, FACFN, and as a “Chiropractic Neurologist.” The Board levied a monetary penalty plus the costs of his prosecution. The circuit court affirmed the Board, and Dr. Barlow appealed to the Mississippi Supreme Court, alleging that the statute governing chiropractic advertising had been implicitly amended or repealed, that the statute governing chiropractic advertising violated his First Amendment rights, and that the Board was without authority to assess the costs of the investigation to him. Furthermore, he argued the circuit court erred by failing to afford him a “de novo appeal.” Because Dr. Barlow’s arguments on whether he should be disciplined lack merit, the Court affirmed the judgments of the Board and circuit court on those issues. However, because the Board lacked authority to directly assess Dr. Barlow the costs of its investigation, the Court reversed on the issue of costs. View "Barlow v. Miss.State Bd. of Chiropractic Examiners" on Justia Law

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Laterrence Lenoir was claimed to be one of the armed robbers captured on surveillance video. Under Rule 701, the trial judge was within his discretion to admit testimony from witnesses familiar with Lenoir that, in their opinion, Lenoir was one of the robbers in the video. The Mississippi Supreme Court found find no error in the trial judge’s admission of this testimony, nor did the Court find error in the judge’s denial of Lenoir’s motion for new trial. View "Lenoir v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Victoria Swanagan was convicted by a jury of the depraved-heart murder of Vincent Hill and was sentenced to twenty-five years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC), with ten years suspended, fifteen years to serve, and five years of supervised probation. The Mississippi Supreme Court found the evidence was sufficient to support the verdict, the verdict was not against the overwhelming weight of the evidence, the trial court did not err in instructing the jury, and defendant did not receive ineffective assistance of counsel. View "Swanagan v.Mississippi" on Justia Law

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There was no abuse of the trial court’s discretion in denying a mistrial, no was there an abuse of discretion in handling the discovery of a prosecution’s expert’s testimony. A grand jury indicted Jesse Mouton on four counts of sexually assaulting N.B. Counts one and two charged Mouton with sexual battery. Counts three and four charged him with touching a child for lustful purposes. In this case, an expert witness testified that injuries to a child were consistent with sexual abuse. Her reports, photographs of the injured body area, and expert opinion were previously disclosed to the defense. Yet, at trial, the defense took issue with the expert’s testimony about the relevance of the shape of some of the injuries. After assessing the defendant’s request to exclude the expert’s testimony, the trial judge denied it. Though the court found no discovery violation, the judge recessed trial for the day so defense counsel could further interview the expert, and restricted the expert’s testimony to external injuries but allowed the expert to give an opinion that the child’s injuries resulted from sexual assault. The defendant appealed the outcome, arguing that the trial court’s actions in handling the expert’s testimony and report denied him a fair trial. Finding no reversible error in the trial court record, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed defendant’s convictions. View "Mouton v. Mississippi" on Justia Law