Decisions – Miss.S.Ct. – June 11, 2015

Andy Brown v. State –   Weathersby, etc. – 28-year-old Andy Brown was convicted of stabbing to death his 67-year-old neighbor Earlie Balford with a screwdriver.  Brown’s mother would regularly provide dinner for  Balford.  When Andy delivered it on April 12, 2012, he claimed Balford lunged at him with a screwdriver and in the ensuing struggle, Balford was stabbed 18 times. Prior to trial, Brown was examined for competence and at the hearing, the psychologist testified that it appeared that Brown was being truthful.  At trial, Brown attempted to introduce this opinion of the psychologist but the trial court denied it.  The Court finds that it was not error to exclude this testimony.  Nor was trial counsel ineffective in failing to encourage Brown to testify that Balford made a sexual pass at him at the time of the stabbing.  The Court also rejects Brown’s arguments regarding the Weathersby rule as well as the failure to grant several manslaughter instructions. Justice Dickinson writes separately on Weathersby.

Calhoun Health Services v. Martha Glaspie –  tort claims act – Glaspie worked as a nurse at the Calhoun Health Services community hospital nursing home. After she injured her back, she was required to undergo a drug screening. She was fired when a drug test came back positive for cocaine.  Glaspie filed suit against the hospital for wrongful termination, negligence, defamation, and breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing. Calhoun Health Services filed a motion for summary judgment.

The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of Calhoun Health Services as to Glaspie’s defamation claim but denied the motion as to the remaining claims. Calhoun Health Services sought interlocutory review of the circuit court’s order denying summary judgment.

After this court granted interlocutory review in this case, the Court issued two opinions that altered the law relevant to the disposition of this case. See Boroujerdi v. City of Starkville, 158 So. 3d 1106 (Miss. 2015); Brantley v. City of Horn Lake, 152 So. 3d 1106, 1108 (Miss. 2014) [two tort claims act cases]. The trial court in this matter did not have the benefit of these two decisions. Therefore, we will allow the trial court to consider the facts of this case under the new law in the first instance. We vacate the judgment of the trial court and remand the case to the trial court for reconsideration under the present law.

Patrick Fluker v. Staterevocation of conditional release/successive writs –  Fluker filed two pcrs challenging the revocation of his conditonal release.  The trial court found the latter pcr barred as a successive writ.  The COA found that it was not a successive writ but was nonetheless barred by res judicata. The Miss.S.Ct. affirms but writes to clarify that it was barred as a successive writ.

The Court suspends the adoption of the new MRCP 5.1

Mississippi Power Company v. Mississippi Public Service Commission and Thomas Blanton – the Court denies rehearing of its Feb 12 decision reversing a rate increase but substitutes this opinion.

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