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Following a jury trial, Edward Young was convicted of murder relating to the shooting death of Travis Anderson. Young, through appellate counsel, appealed his conviction, claiming the trial court erred in denying his motion for a new trial based on the ground that the jury’s guilty verdict was against the overwhelming weight of the evidence. Young also submitted a supplemental appellant’s brief pro se claiming: he was denied a timely initial appearance following his arrest; the trial court improperly instructed the jury with regard to his alibi defense; and he was denied effective assistance of trial counsel and appellate counsel. Having considered the issues and accompanying arguments based on the record, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed Young’s conviction. View "Young v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Eddie Minor was convicted of armed robbery and sentenced to serve a term of thirty-five years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC). In 2014, sixteen-year-old Jessie Elbert Taylor Jr. was fatally shot in the back. Police observed Taylor lying in the street, who was at the time conscious; Taylor stated that “he had been robbed by two black males.” Taylor told her that the two males had asked for everything in his pocket. He told them that he did not have anything, and the males pulled out guns and started shooting. Taylor stated that he then turned and started running down the street. Witnesses on the street identified then eighteen-year-old Minor, Emanuel “Little Carl” Latham, and Tyrone Noble as being involved in the shooting. Latham testified against Minor, and based in part on that testimony, Minor was convicted. Minor appealed, arguing both that the evidence was legally insufficient to support his conviction and that the jury’s verdict was contrary to the overwhelming weight of the evidence. Finding no merit in his appeal, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the conviction. View "Minor v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Samuel Amos was convicted by jury of murder following the shooting death of Marquai Kirkland. Amos was sentenced as a habitual offender to life without the possibility of parole. On appeal, Amos raised two issues: (1) the trial court erred by refusing his proposed accomplice jury instruction; and (2) the trial court erred by denying his motion for a mistrial when the prosecutor referenced a polygraph test. Finding no error, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed. View "Amos v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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A jury found Mario Ragland guilty of armed robbery and conspiracy to commit armed robbery. Ragland appealed his convictions, claiming: (1) there was insufficient evidence to support either conviction; (2) the jury verdicts were against the overwhelming weight of the evidence; (3) the trial court erred in allowing accomplice instructions to be submitted to the jury under the evidence of this case, and that those given were either defective or incomplete; and (4) his trial counsel was constitutionally ineffective for failing to object to the accomplice instructions, and for requesting an accomplice instruction on behalf of the defense that was incomplete or incorrect. Finding no reversible error, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed. View "Ragland v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Thrasher Construction, Inc. (Thrasher) brought a third-party beneficiary action against Bruce Cope, Mary Cope, and Ike Thrash (the Copes and Thrash). Thrasher sought damages for payments owed for waterproofing the Inn by the Sea, a condominium in which the Copes and Thrash had acquired a full ownership interest by agreeing, in part, to pay all outstanding bills for work previously performed on the property. During trial, the county court dismissed the third-party beneficiary claim but allowed Thrasher to proceed on a quantum meruit theory of the case. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Thrasher for $69,290, and the county court entered judgment based on that verdict. The Copes and Thrash appealed the judgment to the Circuit Court, which affirmed the judgment of the county court. The Copes and Thrash then appealed to the Court of Appeals, arguing the facts did not support a recovery on quantum meruit. Thrasher cross-appealed, arguing the trial court erred in dismissing its third-party beneficiary claim. The Court of Appeals held quantum meruit was not the proper method of relief because the action should have proceeded as a third-party beneficiary claim. The Court of Appeals reversed the judgment and remanded for further proceedings consistent with its opinion. The Mississippi Supreme Court agreed the third-party beneficiary action was the appropriate basis for Thrasher’s recovery; however, because the trial court ultimately reached the correct result, no further proceedings were needed in this case. View "Cope v. Thrasher Construction, Inc." on Justia Law

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This appeal stemmed from a January 2016 order by the Lincoln County Chancery Court adjudicating minor Kevin Moore the heir of Travis Lynn Weems, who died in an automobile accident in July 2014. Dauwanna Mitchell, Weems’s mother, appealed that judgment, claiming it was invalid because Weems was never adjudicated to be Moore’s natural father due to a paternity action filed in 2007 that was dismissed and, as Mitchell claimed, never reinstated. Mitchell also claimed a final judgment entered in February 2011 terminating Weems’s parental rights was improperly revised by the chancery court in October 2015 under Rule 60 of the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure. Consolidated with this appeal was another appeal by Mitchell concerning the chancery court’s 2014 judgment granting letters of administration based on an administrative-letters petition filed by the Chancery Clerk of Lincoln County. Both appealed raised the same claims of error: that the chancery court’s order adjudicating heirship was invalid because paternity never was adjudicated, and the chancery court erred in revising the February 2011 termination judgment. Finding no merit in Mitchell’s assignments of error, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the chancery court’s judgment adjudicating Kevin Moore the heir of Travis Weems. View "Mitchell v. Moore" on Justia Law

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Appellant Troy Wesley lost the Democratic primary election for Mississippi’s Washington County District 3 Supervisor on August 4, 2015. He subsequently petitioned the circuit court to request a new election, alleging that numerous irregularities had invalidated the former election. After a hearing on the matter, the Washington County Circuit Court granted summary judgment to defendants Carl McGee and the Washington County Democratic Executive Committee. Wesley appealed to the Mississippi Supreme Court. During its review, the Court found Wesley cited no discrepancy in the original vote totals and instead focused his arguments on procedural problems, including an alleged lack of ballot-box security. “While the failure to maintain ballot-box security is a serious issue worthy of reprimand,” the Supreme Court found Wesley’s arguments were insufficient to raise a genuine issue of material fact and that summary judgment was properly entered in favor of the defendants. View "Wesley v. Washington Cty. Democratic Exec. Committee" on Justia Law

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Following a narrow loss to Gloria Dickerson in the Sunflower County Board of Supervisor’s Democratic Primary election, Barry Bryant filed a Petition to Contest Qualifications of Gloria Dickerson as Nominee for Supervisor. Specifically, Bryant claimed that Dickerson was not a resident of Sunflower County. In the Sunflower County Circuit Court, Senior Status Judge Breland Hilburn heard the contest and found in favor of Dickerson. Bryant appealed the circuit court’s decision. Finding no reversible error, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed. View "Bryant v. Dickerson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed and rendered a final judgment entered by the Harrison County Chancery Court, in which the chancery court held that: (1) Gulf Publishing’s (GP) records request under the Mississippi Public Records Act (MPRA) was not subject to any exemptions contained in the act; (2) the Department of Marine Research (DMR) acted in bad faith by asserting defenses for the purpose of delay in violation of the Mississippi Litigation Accountability Act (MLAA); (3) DMR willfully and wrongfully denied GP’s records requests; (4) the State Auditor acted in bad faith and willfully and wrongfully denied GP’s requests; (5) the State Auditor was in civil contempt from November 4, 2013, until it purged itself on December 5, 2013, when it filed a motion with the federal district court, seeking permission to release the records requested by GP, which were then in the custody of a federal grand jury; therefore, the State Auditor was liable for attorney’s fees and expenses resulting from the contempt; (6) GP was entitled to attorney’s fees under the MPRA, the MLAA, and relevant caselaw for contempt and monetary sanctions for bad faith; (7) DMR and the State Auditor were jointly and severally liable for attorney’s fees and other expenses; and (8) certain individuals were fined $100 each pursuant to the MPRA, for their participation in the willful and wrongful denial of GP’s public-records request. After granting GP's request for certiorari review, the Mississippi Supreme Court found the Court of Appeals should not have reached the question of whether the investigative-report exemption under the MPRA applied in this instance: that claim was waived. Therefore, that portion of the Court of Appeals’ judgment holding that the public records sought by GP were exempt under the MPRA’s investigative-report exemption was overruled. The Court found the Department of Audit, as a public body defined by Mississippi Code Section 25-61-3(a), was liable to GP for the civil penalty prescribed Mississippi Code Section 25-61-15, along with reasonable expenses and attorney’s fees as found by the chancery court, for denying GP access to public records not exempt from the provisions of the MPRA. View "Mississippi Department of Audit v. Gulf Publishing Company, Inc." on Justia Law

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In this custody case, the chancellor found the natural parents unfit to retain custody of their young daughter. After considering the child’s best interest and conducting an "Albright" analysis, the chancellor awarded joint custody to the child’s maternal great-grandparents and paternal grandmother. The paternal grandmother appealed. She argued Mississippi Code Section 93-5-24 (Rev. 2013) prohibits joint-custody awards to third parties. The Court of Appeals affirmed the chancellor's decision. After review, the Mississippi Supreme Court found Section 93-5-24 allowed joint-custody awards among third parties. Thus, the chancellor did not abuse his discretion, and the Court of Appeals was right in recognizing as much. View "Darby v. Combs" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law