Decisions – Miss.S.Ct. – Nov. 13, 2014

Rebecca Jones v. State –  evidence of defendant’s past drug use –  Rebecca was convicted in the murder of her mother.  Her defense was that her mother Jane  saw the gun Rebecca kept in her purse and lunged for it; the two fought over the gun, and it accidentally discharged twice during the struggle.  Rebecca raises sufficiency of the evidence and loses that issue.  She also objects to the admission of evidence of her prior drug use.  She had filed a motion in limine arguing that she had been sober for years and the evidence was such there was “a risk of the jury inferring that she was ‘some drug-crazed lunatic.'”  “The State’s theory was that Rebecca’s prior drug use resulted in her losing custody and having to give up her land.”  The trial court, without mentioning MRE 403, nevertheless allowed the evidence in.   “We hold that the trial court’s implicit balancing test was sufficient, and we cannot say that the trial judge abused his discretion in admitting the evidence.”

Charles Moore v. State –   Moore was convicted of DUI 3rd and sentenced to five years. He was stopped for speeding and the officer noticed a strong smell of alcohol, slurred speech, his eyes were bloodshot, and he was swaying.  Back at the station, Moore attempted to take a breath test but there was insufficient breath for a reading (the officer maintained that Moore refused to blow properly.  On appeal he raises only sufficiency of the evidence and loses.

In the Interest of J.P., a Minor – “The Jefferson Davis County Youth Court [Joe Dale Walker]  held J.P., a minor, in a juvenile detention facility for 103 days, then in the Jefferson Davis County Jail for thirty days more when J.P. attained age eighteen. J.P. was never adjudicated delinquent. No hearing was held on the question of his delinquency. After more than four months in custody, he was released. The court nevertheless ordered his parents to pay the nearly $10,000 cost of J.P.’s 103-day confinement in juvenile detention. We reverse the judgment of the youth court and render judgment in favor of the parents. The State cannot charge the parents of a minor for his detention when that detention was never legally justified.”

Curtis Flowers v. StateDeath penalty appeal –  This is the fourth appeal in the case against Flowers who was accused of murdering four furniture store employees for the reason that he was upset about losing his job there.  All three prior trials that ended in convictions  were reversed on appeal.  Two trials ended in mistrials. The thirteen issues in this appeal include an issue regarding an eyewitness identification as well as the the question of whether six trials constitutes double jeopardy.  The court affirms.

The Mississippi Bar v. Paul Winfield – the former mayor of Vicksburg pleaded guilty to federal programs bribery in November 2013.  Here he is disbarred.

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