Decisions – Miss.S.Ct. – Feb. 26, 2015

Melanie Bosarge v. LWC MS Properties –  obligations under personal guaranty –  Melanie Bosarge and Larry Cooper decided to open a hotel in Ocean Springs and formed a company, Indian Head, for that purpose.  They found a property they wanted to purchase for just under 1.7 million. LWC purchased the property for $1,685,000 and spent $292,000 on repairs.  Indian Head then executed a balloon note for 3.5 million in favor of LWC and secured by a deed of trust on the hotel property. The note was personally guaranteed by Bosarge.  Melanie claims that Cooper promised that she would not be liable on the note for anything more than the property.  Indian Head defaulted, Cooper died, and his widow declared the entire debt due. The trial court found that Bosarge was individually liable for the deficiency balance after foreclosure.   Bosarge argues that there were material issue  of fact that should have precluded summary judgment including a dispute over the  amount that should have been credited for the property, whether the loan was really for  $3.5 million, and whether LWC should have been able to file suit given that it was administratively dissolved six months after it filed the complaint.  The Miss.S.Ct. reverses and  remands. “Because we cannot discern whether Indian Head made interest payments, whether credit existed for principal reduction, and whether the court’s order accounted for Bosarge’s contention concerning the amount transferred from LWC to Indian Head, we find significant factual disputes exist as to the amount of indebtedness owed by Indian Head or Bosarge.”

Clarence Jones v. Statepardon = expungement? –  Jones pleaded guilty to murder in 1992 and was given a life sentence.  In 2004, his sentence was  indefinitely suspended in 2004 by Governor Musgrove. He was released from prison on parole. In 2008, Governor Barbour granted Jones a pardon.  Jones then petitioned the Circuit Court of Warren County for an expungement which was denied.  Jones appeals and the Miss.S.Ct. affirms.  “This Court recently addressed expungement after pardon in Polk v. State,150 So. 3d 967. Jones makes the same arguments that were rejected in Polk, i.e., that he is entitled to receive an expungement of his conviction based upon his pardon, citing Mississippi Code Section 99-19-71(4) and Ex Parte Crisler, 132 So. 103, 159 Miss. 247 (1931).”

Antonio Williams v. State –  pcr procedure (pcrs from pleas are filed in the trial court) –  Williams pleaded guilty to two counts of burglary in 1982.  In 1987 he was convicted of murder as an habitual.  He appealed and lost and filed several pcrs on the murder conviction and lost.   In May of 2014, he filed a pcr challenging the guilty pleas to burglary claiming he received ineffective assistance of counsel because his attorney did not advise him that he had a speedy trial issue before he pled and, thus, that his plea was not knowing and voluntary. The trial court denied the petition.  On appeal, the  Court of Appeals found that the circuit court lacked jurisdiction to entertain Williams’s motion, because he had not obtained permission from the Miss.S.Ct.  prior to filing there. Williams, 2014 WL 2462998, at *2.  Therefore, the COA held it lacked jurisdiction to hear the appeal.  The Miss.S.Ct granted cert., vacates the COA opinion but affirms the trial court.

The Court of Appeals would have been correct to require Williams to file for leave in this Court if he was filing a motion for post-conviction relief in his murder case. But as stated earlier, it is clear to us from Williams’s motion and from his brief on appeal that he is challenging his burglary convictions. And because Williams did not appeal those convictions, leave from this Court is not required.

So while we agree with Williams that the circuit court had jurisdiction to hear his motion, we also find that the circuit judge did not err when he denied it. The circuit judge found that it “plainly appeared” from the face of Williams’s motion that he was not entitled to relief, and we agree.

In the lesbian divorce case,   Lauren Beth Czckala v. State (argued in January) the Court issues an order for additional briefing on the following:

In light of Mississippi’s public policy of not allowing or recognizing a marriage between two persons of the same gender, what rational basis supports the interpretation or application of a law or constitutional provision so as to prohibit Mississippi courts from granting a divorce to a Mississippi resident who was lawfully married in another state to a person of the same gender?

As Thus Blogged Anderson notes, there are three dissents to this order.  TBA has an interesting discussion of them here.

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