Decisions – Miss.S.Ct. – June 26, 2014

Hampton v. Blackmonpremises liabilityfrivolous lawsuit –  Patrons of Hamps Club were shot in the Malaco parking lot.  The victims sued Hamps and Malaco and settled with Malaco.  The jury found for Hamps.  Hamps asked for sanctions on the grounds that Mississippi law would never allow liability to be imposed on a premises owner for injuries that took place on a property the premises owner did not own or control.  The Court denied sanctions and Hamps appealed and lost.  For one thing, Hamps refused to have the trial transcribed making it somewhat hard for the Court to determine whether the case was indeed frivolous.  However, Hamps argument is without merit inasmuch as the victims pointed out cases from other jurisdictions where premises owners can be liable for injuries that occur where their patrons regularly park. Oh, and there’s the fact that the victims told Hamps they would dismiss them from the law suit but Hamps refused demanding vindication. (“{Plaintiffs’ counsel] argued that the plaintiffs had offered to dismiss Hampton from the suit a year before trial, which Hampton admitted. However, Hampton argued that more than a year had transpired before the offer to dismiss, and Hampton wanted to clear his name at trial.”) Well, you got it, Hamps! You just don’t get attorneys fees.

Corrothers v. State –  In a death penalty case out of Lafayette County, Caleb Corrothers was found guilty of killing two people in the course of a robbery.  In July, 2009,  Taylor Clark was pursued into the trailer where he lived with his parents and brother.  His pursuer was a black man who insisted Taylor, a sometimes pot dealer, owed him $5,000. Taylor and his father were killed by gunshots.  The mother was shot in the neck but survived.  Thus, at trial, the evidence consisted mostly of the eyewitness identification of the mother (who had been injured) and the brother (who had previously suffered two head injuries) as well as a jailhouse snitch.      Issues include Batson, the failure to exclude the eyewitness identification, the failure to allow expert testimony on eyewitness identifications, denial of proposed instructions including one on mere suspicion and another that would have told the jury that the law looks suspiciously on informant testimony, and failure to allow jury to hear 911 call without first undergoing an analysis under MRE 403, failure to allow impeachment by a prior inconsistent statement, introduction of gruesome evidence, etc.  The Miss.S.Ct. affirms.

Witten v. Statesex offender registrations from conviction in another state – Witten was convicted of oral copulation and rape of a person in California and received an order of dismissal after  completion of his probation.  The dismissal order stated that it did not relieve Witten of the obligation of disclosing the conviction in response to any direct question contained in a questionnaire or application for public office or for licensure with any state or local agency.  Witten moved to Mississippi and filed a petition for relief from having to register as a sex offender in the Circuit Court of Adams County arguing that the dismissal in California meant that he should not have to register as a sex offender.  The local DA agreed with Witten and the court granted the requested relief.  Later, the Miss. Dept. of Public Safety filed a motion to set aside the judgment under MRCP 60(b) based on Mississippi and California statutes that had not been presented to the trial court.   The trial court reversed itself. On appeal, the Miss. S.Ct. holds that the trial court was right the second time and affirms. MCA Sect. 45-33-47(4) states that no person shall be required to register as a sex offender where the conviction is set aside on a post conviction proceeding . . . or the charge is dismissed.  While Witten argues that he is no longer required to register in California., he failed to provide any proof of this.  Nor has he provided a certificate of rehabilitation  from California.  Here the conviction was dismissed but this is not the same as being set aside.   Witten, then, must register as a sex offender in Mississippi. 

Richardson v. State –  A murder case out of Harrison Co. that sounds like the plot of several movies.  Richardson and his wife allow a homeless man, Rudy Quilon,  to live with them in order to assist him in living a Christian life.  Since no good deed goes unpunished, Quilon begins a reign of terror that ends only when Richardson shoots Quilon after ordering Quilon to leave.  Richardson claims self defense but, as is all too common in the courts of our state, his ability to present that defense is sorely limited by the trial court. Issues include: 1) court’s refusal to allow Richardson to elicit evidence of Quilon’s prior conviction and his conduct; 2) judicial bias and prosecutorial misconduct including the prosecution’s making false statements during closing argument; 3) refusal to allow Richardson to elicit evidence of his PTSD.  The Mississippi Supreme Court, reaffirming (as it  apparently needs to do on an almost weekly basis) that a criminal defendant is allowed to put on a defense.   Judge Dickinson writes for the Court:

In this murder prosecution, the trial judge ruled in limine that the defendant would not
be allowed to support his self-defense claim with evidence of the victim’s prior bad acts,
including a violent criminal history. Because the defendant’s knowledge of this evidence
would be highly probative of the reasonableness of his conduct and fear of the victim, we
reverse and remand for a new trial.

6 thoughts on “Decisions – Miss.S.Ct. – June 26, 2014

  1. I don’t know where, but I swear I’ve read the Richardson opinion before. Did the COA hear it, or something else happen? This story was really familiar.

  2. In the beginning, I was summarizing the cases BEFORE they went before the Court in order to start out with a substantial number of posts. In those cases, I can just copy and post what I wrote previously when the decision comes down and add the result. That’s why Richardson is familiar.

  3. Doesn’t the dismissal for Witten vs. State use language that EXACTLY mirrors Miss. statute 45-33-47(4)? The dismissal states both full dismissal and verdict was set aside, thus no conviction exists. Conviction is mandatory & required according to state law. You may not have read the dismissal in the record but you may want to do so Jane. This is a clear case of legislating from the bench.

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