Decisions – Miss.S.Ct. – Nov. 5, 2015

The Court grants the motion for entry of judgment for the Appellant  in Lauren Beth Czckala v. State  wherein a  lesbian couple appealed the court’s refusal to grant them an  uncontested divorce.  Mississippi residents Lauren and Dana  married in San Francisco in 2008. Lauren later sought a divorce in Mississippi.  Dana contested it on the grounds that the state could not grant a divorce because it did not recognize homosexual marriages.  At this point, the chancellor notified the State that there were constitutional issues involved.  The state of Mississippi intervened and filed to dismiss based on the same grounds urged by Dana.  Although Lauren and Dana eventually agreed to the divorce and a property settlement, the trial court held that it had no authority to grant a divorce.  Lauren and Dana reached a property settlement agreement that was noted in the Court’s final judgment.

(Apparently there were a few Mississippi courts refusing to grant divorces to same-sex couples despite the United States Supreme Court’s holding in Obergefell v. Hodges, 135 S. Ct. 2584, 192 L. Ed. 2d 609 (2015).  THose cases should be able to move forward now).

John Doe o/b/o Jane Doe, a Minor v. Rankin County School District MTCA – Jane was  a ninth-grade student at Richland High School when she  left the  premises at approximately 1:30 p.m. and visited a nearby McDonald’s restaurant. During her visit, Jane met Tyler Trigg, another RHS student, for the first time, and talked with him briefly. After leaving McDonald’s, Jane, along with Trigg and three other students, returned to the RHS campus at approximately 3:11 p.m. Upon reaching campus, Trigg forced Jane onto an empty parked school bus and forced her to perform oral sex. Following the assault, Jane went to the restroom until school was dismissed at 3:14 p.m., and then   boarded her assigned bus. Her parents sued.  The Circuit Court granted summary judgment for the defendants based on discretionary immunity.  The Court of Appeals found that the defendants waived that defense because while it was asserted in the answer, it was not raised via motion until after 13 months of discovery, reversed  and remanded.   The Miss.S.Ct. granted cert. and reverses the COA and the Circuit Court.  “Based on this Court’s recent decision in Brantley v. City of Horn Lake, 152 So. 3d 1106 (Miss. 2014), which established a new test for determining the application of discretionary-function immunity, we reverse both the COA’s and the trial court’s decisions and remand this case to the trial court for the parties to present evidence in light of the new standard.”

And in Greenleaf CO2 Solutions, LLC v. Mississippi Public Service Commission, the Court  dismisses Greenleaf’s Petition for Interlocutory Appeal or Writ of Mandamus and Emergency Request for Stay Pending Appeal in which Greenleaf asked for relief arguing that the Mississippi Public Service Commission is ignoring the Court’s order in Mississippi Power Co. v. Mississippi Public Service Commission, 168 So. 3d 905 (Miss. 2015).  

Greenleaf CO2, a ratepayer, had argued that:

The Court reversed the Kemper Project rate increase, remanded this case to the Mississippi Public Service Commission (“Commission”), and instructed the Commission to conduct a prudency hearing and afford ratepayers all due process when considering a nearly $159,000,000 annual rate increase that will affect 186,000 Mississippians. The Court’s mandate was clear: In future proceedings related to the Kemper Project, the Commission should proceed deliberatively and take particular care to provide intervening ratepayers a full and meaningful opportunity to be heard. The mandate has not been heeded. Instead, the Commission’s proceedings on remand have been marked by haste-the Commission invoked “emergency powers” to quickly reinstate the 18% rate increase-and an arbitrary insistence that a prudency hearing be held on November 10, even though Mississippi Power Company (“MPC”) recently filed an untimely 1,900 page supplemental notice of rate increase, which offers new testimony and new evidence to support its In-Service Asset Proposal. The Commission acknowledged that the filing was untimely, but refused to strike it or postpone the prudency hearing so that ratepayers could fairly respond to MPC’s new evidence. Instead, on September 23, the Commission ordered the ratepayers to respond to the untimely 1,900 page filing by October 9-just 16 days later.

After Greenleaf filed its petition, the Court notes, Mississippi Power withdrew the supplemental filing.  The dismissal is “without prejudice to any party’s right to raise any of the issues at such time, and in the event, any party files an appeal of a final finding, order or judgment of the commission.”

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