Cert. grants – Feb. 19, 2015

Jordan Davis v. State –  insufficient evidence –  The owners of a cattle farm discovered that they were missing an old John Deere tractor, a cotton trailer, and two old trucks.   The tractor, trailer and one of the trucks was located at a scrap metal facility.  Jordan Davis and Bradford Wren had sold the items to the scrap metal facility.  Davis was charged with auto theft, grand larceny and receiving stolen property. At trial, he was found guilty on only the receiving stolen property charge.  On appeal, he argued that he was charged in violation of MCA Sect. 97-17-70 which forbids charging a defendant with stealing property and receiving stolen goods in the same indictment.  The state confessed error and the case was reversed and remanded for trial on the receiving stolen goods charge.  Davis sought cert. arguing that the conviction should be vacated because the evidence was insufficient under Jackson v. Virginia. “In this case, the evidence established only that Davis was in possession of Dents’ recently stolen tractor and sold it for scrap. Aside from testimony suggesting that Davis himself stole the tractor–i.e., testimony that gouge marks were in the road leading from Dent’s farm to the scrap metal shop (Tr. 18-19, 36)–the State presented no evidence as to how Davis came to possess the tractor.” For non-lawyers, a case reversed because the verdict was against the weight of the evidence is remanded for a new trial. If the evidence was insufficient as a matter of law, the state is not allowed a second crack of proving the case and is not allowed to retry the defendant.

Davis cert. petition

Baxter v. Stateburden shifting instructions/ intellectual capacity and voluntariness of confession –  In April 2010, Baxter pleaded guilty to two counts of manufacture and possession of a controlled substance. He skipped his sentencing hearing a few months later. A bench warrant was issued. When Baxter’s girlfriend was spotted in her truck with what appeared to be a passenger hiding in the seat next to her, a deputy pulled in behind her and the truck sped off. Other deputies joined the chase. Eventually the truck turned around, struck the sheriff (who later died from his injuries) and left the scene. No one could tell who was driving the truck. The next day both Baxter and his girlfriend were found hiding in a trailer. Baxter signed a Miranda waiver and admitted to being the driver and having “nudged” a deputy. Baxter was charged with capital murder but was considered too mentally challenged to qualify for the death penalty. Among the issues: 1) whether evidence of the pursuit should have been suppressed because of a lack of probable cause to make a traffic stop; 2) whether Baxter knowingly waived his Miranda rights given his mental deficits; 3) whether the indictment should have been dismissed because the girlfriend gave allegedly false testimony before the grand jury; 4) whether the venire should have been quashed because of statements made by prospective jurors during voir dire; 5) whether it was error to introduce Baxter’s April 2010 guilty plea; and 6) and whether a mistrial should have been ordered when the prosecution made a Caldwell argument (that an appellate court would review their decision), etc. The Court of Appeals affirms.

Baxter sought cert. “to resolve the conflict between the Court of Appeals’ ruling in this case and (1) that Court’s factual and legal rulings with respect to the same confusing, burden-shifting instruction in the companion case of Brandy Williams v State [Issue Nine]; (2) this Court’s opinion in Jennings v. State, 127 So. 3d 185 (Miss. 2013), which requires full consideration of a defendant’s intellectual disability in the determination whether a custodial statement is voluntary [Issue Two]; and (3) this Court’s Rule 404(b) caselaw [Issue Six].

Baxter’s cert. petition

Glenda Cascio v. ALFA dismissal for want of prosecution – This is a rear end car wreck case that occurred in 1999.  The driver of the rear ended car, Patterson, and her insurance company filed suit against Cascio in county court.  After trial, the court directed a verdict for Cascio.  The circuit court affirmed but the COA reversed and remanded in September of 2005.  In February  2008, the circuit clerk issued the clerk’s motion to dismiss for want of prosecution.  In March 2008, Alfa and Patterson filed a  motion for summary judgment. In October 2008, the county court entered an order of dismissal finding that summary judgment was denied and dismissing the case since  the “[p]laintiffs’ motion was not accompanied
by any other information as to good cause why the case should be continued as a pending case if the Motion for Summary [J]udgment was not granted.”  On appeal for a second time, the COA reversed finding that “the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment, filed before both the circuit and county court, must be considered to “advance the case to judgment” and would be sufficient to constitute an “action of record,” which would prevent the dismissal of the action under Rule 41(d)(1).”

Cascio filed cert. arguing that “It is undisputed that the Plaintiff failed to take any action for a period of nearly three
years. (Opinion, ¶5, 23). However, contrary to established precedent of the Supreme Court of Mississippi in Illinois Cent. R. Co. v. Moore, 994 So.2d 723 (Miss. 2008), the Court of Appeals held that as long as the Plaintiff filed an action of record within thirty days of the clerk’s notice, a showing of good cause was not required.”

Cascio’s cert petition

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