Decisions – Miss.S.Ct. – April 3, 2014

Smith v. Tippah County Electrical Association – Smith was a lineman for the Tippah County Electrical Assoc. In April 2010, he suffered severe injuries (he lost both arms below the elbow) while installing electrical service to a residential trailer.  The AJ, the Commission and the Court of Appeals all found that Smith had intentionally injured himself and denied benefits.  The Miss.S.Ct. reverses.   Smith was part of a crew and was located in the bucket.  It was his job to remove the clamp from the electrified wire which he did.  Smith had sketchy memories of the accident but recalled leaning down to pick up something.  There was other testimony that after he unhooked the clamp, an employee sent by management called to Smth to come down. Unbeknownst to Smith, he was scheduled for a drug test that day and the employee was there to take him for the test. There was some testimony that Smith was acting quieter than usual that day. There was also testimony about what would be necessary for Smith to have suffered the injuries he did. The AJ ended up finding that Smith would have had to have had one hand on the neutral line and one hand on the primary line and thus that Smith was trying to kill himself when he was injured. In reversing, the Court held that the employer’s contention that Smith injured himself intentionally was an affirmative defense and, thus, the burden was on the employer to prove. Since none of the witnesses who stated that they saw Smith’s hands on the two wires actually saw the accident, the employer’s proof was insufficient.

And here’s the rest of the story. The Miss.S.Ct. opinion mentions a murder but doesn’t explain it. The Clarion Ledger has the details.

The Mississippi Bar v. David Scott Beal – Beal was suspended from the practice of law in Illinois for a period of two years for several complaints of neglecting cases. His defense was that he had moved to North Carolina where he was working for a law firm but was commuting back and forth on his Illinois cases. He also suffered from debilitating anxiety. The Mississippi Bar recommended a similar two year suspension in Mississippi which the Court grants but the suspension begins to run when Beal pays his bar dues.

Crawford v. State – The Court denies the state’s motion to set an execution date. It also denies Crawford’s motion to disqualify the Office of Post Conviction counsel on the basis of a conflict.

Byrom v. State – the handdown list contains this notation “Michelle Byrom v. State of Mississippi; Tishomingo Circuit Court; LC Case #: CR 99-065; Ruling Date: 11/18/2000; Ruling Judge: Thomas Gardner, III; Disposition: Motion for Leave to File Successive Petition for Post-Conviction Relief filed by Michelle Byrom is granted. The conviction of the petitioner, Michelle Byrom, for capital murder is hereby reversed, and the case at issue here and in the direct appeal styled Michelle Byrom v. State of Mississippi and having Docket Number 2001-DP-529-SCT is remanded to the Circuit Court of Tishomingo County for a new trial. Upon remand, the Circuit Court of Tishomingo County shall reassign the case to a different trial judge. Coleman, J., for the Court. Order entered.”

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