Decisions – Miss.Ct. of App. – Feb. 17, 2015

Emma Bell v. Sidney Stevenson –   alimony/division of property  – The parties agreed to a divorce and consented to have the court determine alimony and division of retirement and savings accounts.  Eventually Stevenson was ordered to pay $500 per month in rehabilitative alimony for thirty-six consecutive months but did not divide the retirement and savings accounts. Bell appeals pro se arguing that while the attorney signed the consent order, she never did. The Court noites she didn’t have to sign the order since she signed the agreement.  The COurt finds no merit in her other issues either.

Kristen McGee Farthing v. Brandon Farthing  –  termination of parental rights/duties of GAL – Kristen Farthing and Brandon McGee were married in  2006.and had a son that same year. They separated the day after the child was born and divorced.   Kristen was awarded custody of Ashton, and Brandon was granted visitation. Brandon was ordered to pay child support.  In 2007,  Brandon was severely burned in a work accident and after weeks in the hospital he was forced to move in with his mother in Tennessee.  In 2010, the parties entered an agreed judgment lowering Brandon’s child support obligation and agreeing Brandon was $28,000 in arrears for nonpayment of child support. A year later.  Kristen petitioned the court to terminate Brandon’s parental rights and the chancellor appointed a GAL to represent Ashton’s interests.

The chancellor’s denied the petition to terminate “at least in part, based on his view that a pending adoption petition was a required prerequisite before parental rights may be terminated. The chancellor also found that while the statutory abandonment period had been met, he believed Brandon’s severe injuries caused his absence and inability
to travel to Mississippi for visits.  Kristen appealed.  The Miss. Court of Appeals reverses and remands.

Our concern is that the chancellor was unaware of the importance of the GAL’s role in parental-rights-termination cases. Because there is no record evidence he considered the GAL’s findings and recommendations, and because he wrongly believed an adoption petition must be pending to terminate parental rights, we find reversal is necessary.

Carl Sanders v. Tanya Hoover et al –  timeliness of notice of appeal – Sanders filed some kind of lawsuit against three people asking for a restraining order and damages.  On Sept. 24, 2012, the court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss.  On Oct. 18, 2012, Sanders filed a motion to reconsider.   When the court denied it Sanders filed a notice of appeal on December 19, 2012.  The Court of appeals affirms finding that the notice of appeal was untimely since the motion to reconsider was not filed within the ten days required by MRCP 59(e).

Alfred Banks v. State of Mississippi –  guilty plea –  Banks was indicted with two others for armed robbery, etc. On May 31, 2011, Banks pled guilty to aggravated assault, and the circuit court dismissed the other two charges against him. Banks was sentenced to ten years with credit for time served.  In July of 2013, Banks filed a pcr claiming his guilty plea was involuntary, his lawyer ineffective, and denial of due process.  The trial court reviewed the plea petition an d colloquy and denied relief.

After reviewing the record, we find that Banks was fully informed of the charge against him and was well aware of the consequences of pleading guilty to aggravated assault. Banks heard the elements of aggravated assault that the State would have to prove at trial and the evidence the State planned to present during a trial. In response to the circuit court judge’s questioning, Banks acknowledged that he was guilty of aggravated assault and that the State’s evidence was true and correct. Because the record reflects that Banks entered his guilty plea voluntarily and intelligently, we find his plea was binding.

James Smith v. Miss. Dept of Employment Security –  unemployment benefits –  Smith was employed as a games dealer by Resorts.  WHen he was hired he  signed a document stating that he agreed to the terms contained in the employee handbook, including a progressive discipline policy. After Smith made a fourth mistake he was fired pursuant to the handbook.  At first, it was determined that Smith was eligible for unemployment.  Resorts appealed and after a telephonic hearing  it was determined that  Smith was disqualified from receiving benefits because he was fired for misconduct. Smith appealed and the MDES Board of Review affirmed the decision to deny benefits. The Circuit Court also found against Smith as does the Court of Appeals.

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