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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 widow challenged the Court of Appeals’ finding persuasive that she abandoned her marriage; when her husband died, she received only a child’s share of his estate. After dating for approximately six months; Sarah Young and Joe Estes married in 2006. Young entered the marriage with four natural children and three adopted minor grandchildren; Estes entered with several grown children. After marrying Estes, Young continued to maintain a home with her grandchildren where she had lived prior to the marriage. As noted by the chancellor, Estes’s and Young’s “living arrangement was somewhat non-traditional.” Despite this, the record shows that Young split her time between her children and Estes. She testified that she slept at his house when she was not working nights and prepared at least one meal a day for Estes. Following a short hospitalization, Young contended Estes’ behavior changed. She testified he lashed out at her. After Estes accused Young of adultery, she elected to separate from him. Estes’s family members testified that they, unlike Young, were very supportive of Estes following the hospitalization. In addition to finding Young absent, several family members testified that Young was stealing groceries to feed her own children. After Estes had refused to seek medical or mental help, Young initiated involuntary-commitment proceedings against Estes. The evaluation concluded that Estes competent, and not a danger to himself or anyone else. Estes was released from psychiatric care. Immediately thereafter, Young filed for divorce. Shortly after Estes received notice of the final divorce hearing, he shot and killed himself. Estes’s will did not provide for Young to inherit anything from his estate. Young renounced the will. The trial court granted Young a $12,000 widow’s allowance as well as a one-fifth, child’s share of the estate. She appealed, challenging the child’s share of the estate. Finding that the chancellor did not manifestly err when he determined that Young had not abandoned the marital relationship and was entitled to a child’s share of Estes’s estate, the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Court of Appeals, affirmed the judgment of the Chancery Court, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Estate of Joe Howard Estes v. Young-Estes" on Justia Law

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In a matter of first impression, the Mississippi Supreme Court addressed testamentary provisions in a contract. A provision in a lease stated that upon the lessor’s death, the lessor’s rights (primarily the right to receive lease payments) transferred to the lessor’s daughter, who was not a party to the lease. The lessor died, and the question presented under the facts of this case was whether the provision of the lease or the provisions of the lessor’s will determined the owner of the lease payments. The distinction turns on whether the instrument conveys any present interest to the grantee. The relevant question was when the interest vests in the grantee and whether it may be modified during the grantor’s life, not who has the right to prevent any interest from vesting. Because the grantee lacked a vested right, the provision at issue here was testamentary in nature and treated as a will. The parties agree the lease failed to comply with the statutory formalities required of a will, so the Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals’ decision to reverse the chancellor’s decision finding the provision enforceable. View "Estate of Rose Greer v. Ball" 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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An order of divorce was entered in 2008. This case made its third trip to the Mississippi Supreme Court. Drake Lewis appealed two issues: (1) the order of divorce should have been voided due to a lack of jurisdiction and that the chancellor erred in finding that he resided in Harrison County (he claimed improper venue for the suit); and (2) the chancellor erred in entering an order of contempt against him. Finding no error, the Court affirmed the judgment of the chancellor on both issues. View "Lewis v. (Lewis) Pagel" on Justia Law

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This election contest arose out of the November 4, 2014, general election for the circuit judge seat in Mississippi’s eleventh circuit district, subdistrict 3. Charles Webster received 3,255 votes, whereas Chaka Smith received 2,369 votes. Of the total votes cast, 390 were cast by absentee ballot. Webster received 296 of the absentee ballots and Smith received the remaining 94. After the election had been certified, Smith conducted statutory examinations of the ballot boxes. During the examinations, Smith requested to photocopy or scan the contents of the ballot boxes. The Coahoma, Quitman, and Tunica County circuit clerks denied these requests. Smith filed a petition in the Quitman County Circuit Court seeking both declaratory relief and to contest the election, seeking a declaration on whether he had the right to make copies of election documents before contesting the election. In addition, Smith argued most of the absentee ballots violated Mississippi law and were comingled to the extent that illegal absentee ballots could not be separated from legal ones. Webster successfully moved for summary judgment; the trial court found no genuine issue of material fact existed regarding which candidate received the most votes in the election. Smith appealed. Finding no error in the grant of summary judgment in favor of Webster, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed. View "Smith v. Webster" on Justia Law

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The parties ultimately agreed to an irreconcilable differences divorce, with the chancery court to decide certain issues: child custody, visitation, equitable division of property and attorney fees. The bulk of Candice Ballard’s appeal centered on the court’s order denying her custody of the parties’ three minor children based upon the chancery court’s determination that both Candice and Marshall Ballard were “unfit” and that neither should be awarded custody pursuant to Mississippi Code Section 93-5-24-(9)(a)(ii) (the “family-violence presumption”). The chancery court awarded custody to the Mississippi Department of Human Services but placed the children with Marshall’s parents. Candice challenged the custody decision, arguing the chancellor relied strictly on hearsay to establish her “unfitness” and history of family violence. She also argued the chancery court erred in dividing the marital estate and awarding attorney’s fees. After review, the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed and remanded with respect to the issues of custody and division of the marital estate; with respect to fees, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Ballard v. Ballard" on Justia Law

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Rita McIntosh appealed a circuit court’s judgment affirming the Mississippi Real Estate Commission’s disciplinary order against her, finding that McIntosh had engaged in “improper dealing.” According to the order, McIntosh, as exclusive agent of the seller, interjected herself into the lender’s appraiser selection process and then tried to keep the selected appraiser from completing the appraisal assignment. The Commission imposed a ninety-day suspension, plus a thirty-day suspension held in abeyance, along with eight months’ probation and continuing education courses. Because the Mississippi Supreme Court found McIntosh’s alleged conduct did not constitute improper dealing as contemplated by the Mississippi Real Estate Brokers License Act, it reversed rendered judgment in favor of McIntosh. View "McIntosh v. Mississippi Real Estate Comm'n" 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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Leslie Shumake appealed a Chancery Court judgment that found him in contempt for failure to pay his alimony obligations, denied his motion to modify alimony, and placed an equitable lien on his law practice to secure the payment of future alimony. Shumake argued that the chancellor erred by imposing the equitable lien, abused his discretion by failing to grant the motion to modify alimony, erred by rejecting his inability-to-pay defense to the contempt action, erred in the award of attorney fees, and erred by awarding Ms. Shumake the unpaid balance of the arrearage on the parties’ former first mortgage. The Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed on all issues except the chancellor’s award of attorney fees for Ms. Shumake’s successful contempt action. The Court reversed the attorney fee award and remanded for the chancellor to subtract the fees attributable to Ms. Shumake’s defense of Mr. Shumake’s modification action. View "Shumake v. Shumake" on Justia Law