Decisions – Miss.Ct. of App. – April 1, 2014 – part 1 – (do rulings on April Fools’ Day count?)

Roberts v. Roberts – Yolanda was granted a divorce on the grounds of adultery. The chancellor divided the property and awarded Yolanda $500 a month in periodic alimony.  Christopher appeals the award of alimony, the award of $50,000 with 8% interest representing half of the money Christopher used to start a business (buying and renovating houses), the award of $18,877 as one-half of Christopher’s e trade account and $1,100. as one half of an IRA account.   He also appeals the chancellor’s finding him in contempt and ordering him to pay $1,852 for their son’s college living expenses and failing to give him credit for payment made by Christopher directly to the son.  The Court of Appeals held that equitable distribution did not mean equal distribution and found that the chancellor did not abuse his discretion. 

Wallace v. Greenville Public School Dist. –  Wallace alleged breach of contract claim arising from position with GPSD.  SHe claimed that in October 2006, the principle ordered her to change some grades.  A month later, Wallace resigned. via a letter dated December 6, 2006, stating that she was resigning effective December 31, 2006.   SHe filed her lawsuit on December 21, 2009, alleging willful and malicious breach of her contract of employment.  The  GPSD moved for and was granted summary judgment on the SOL.  The Miss.Ct. of APpeals affirmed finding that the SOL began to run on the date she resigned and that her claims were barred by the one year SOL under the MTCA as well as the general three year SOL.   As far as Wallace’s argument that the SOL did not begin to run until December 31, 2006, the SOL begins to run when the plaintiff knows of the breach and not when the damages begin. 

Smith v. State – Smith pleaded guilty to murder and armed robbery in 2000.  He has spent the next 16 years filing pcr motions.  This is an appeal from his third wherein he alleged ineffective assistance of counsel because his lawyers failed to mention that he had had brain surgery a year before his plea and double jeopardy. The Court of Appeals finds that the dismissal was warranted since Smith has filed his motion out-of-time and, moreover, this is his third such pleading (state law limits a petitioner to a single pcr pleading) and  he has offered no sufficient explanation as to why the bars (SOL and successor writ) should be waived. 

Bell v. State – Bell was convicted of two counts of distribution of meth.  On appeal he argues that it was error to try him while he was wearing his orange prison jumpsuit.  The Court of Appeals finds this issue was waived because his trial counsel failed to object (inquiring minds want to know: was his attorney breathing?).   He also argues that it was error for the trial court to deny the state’s request to nol pros a charge on which Bell was subsequently convicted.   The court had ruled inadmissible (on the grounds that the video showed nothing) a video of the drug buy in Count 1 and the state moved to nol pros the charge. The trial court (Marcus Gordon) denied the motion on the grounds that the informant had already testified about the sale and was still available to testify. (Later the Court reversed his ruling and allowed the videotape)  The Court of Appeals held that this was not error.  A Court is not required to grant a motion to nol pros. His refusal is reviewed for abuse of discretion and no such abuse was shown here.  Furthermore, Bell did not join in the state’s motion to nol pros.  Of note, one of Bell’s appellate lawyers was the late Chokwe Lumumba.

Huey v. RGIS Specialists –   In this workers comp. case, Huey was driving for his employer when he changed lanes causing another driver to swerve into the median to miss being hit by Huey.  That driver, Crawford, got back on the road and forced Huey to stop either partially or entirely in the right lane of the interstate.  Huey testified that while he was stopped trying to activate his flashers, he was hit from behind by an 18-wheeler.  He injured his back and filed for workers comp benefits.   The Aj and the Commission found that Huey was not within the scope of his employment when he was injured.  The Ct of Appeals affirms. The officer who investigated the accident   took statements indicating that Huey stopped to engage in some road rage activity (Both Huey and Crawford told the cop that the other driver kept overtaking him and then stopping).   Therefore, there was substantial evidence to support he Commission’s denial. 

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