Decisions – Miss.S.Ct. – Jan. 21, 2016

Timothy Norman v. State –  DUI where officer fired for lying  – Norman was convicted in Ridgeland of DUI and speeding.  After he was convicted, the arresting officer in his case, Daniel Soto, was fired after it was  discovered that he had provided false testimony under oath in another DUI.  He appealed to county and then circuit court with no luck.   On appeal to the  Miss.S.Ct., the city finally filed a brief after a show cause hearing was ordered by the Court.  In it, the state confessed error and, thus the Miss.S.Ct reverses and renders.

Bobby Batiste v. State – improper influence on jurors –  Batiste was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death.  His conviction and sentence were affirmed on appeal. He filed a pcr with sixteen issues.  Attached to the petition were affidavits from two jurors who stated that the bailiffs were very friendly and especially helpful in explaining the law to them whenever they had questions.

Furthermore, according to one juror, the bailiff explained that the reason no African Americans were serving on the jury was because “blacks and whites are different in their opinion about the death penalty” and “black people will not consider the death penalty.” Another juror agreed that “someone” had “explained that you have to be comfortable with the death penalty, and blacks don’t feel as comfortable with it.”

The Court grants Batiste a hearing. The case is out of Oktibbeha. Justices Pierce, Randolph and Lamar dissent.

Billy Ray Bradley v. Earl Jordan, Jr.  legal malpractice/SOL – In 2003, Bradley  was indicted as a habitual offender on the charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.  Jordan was appointed to represent him.  Bradley “informed Jordan he had not served a year on one of the sentences referenced in the indictment.” However, Bradley was convicted and was sentenced on June 15, 2004, to a term of life imprisonment. In February 2014, the  Court granted Bradley leave to seek post-conviction relief  on the issue of whether he had served one year or more for a burglary conviction which was used to support the State’s allegation that Bradley was a habitual offender.  After a hearing, the trial court found that Bradley had not – he had only served 79 days – and  ordered his immediate release from MDOC custody.

On June 9, 2014, Bradley filed his complaint against Jordan, alleging that Jordan had been negligent in his representation of Bradley by failing to investigate whether Bradley had served one year or more on the two sentences used to support Bradley’s habitual-offender status and in failing to raise this defense at his sentencing hearing.  The trial court dismissed based on the SOL.  The Miss.S.Ct. affirms.   Justice Kitchens dissents “because ‘[q]uestions of material fact exist’ relating to whether Bradley knew ‘or through the exercise of reasonable diligence should [have known] of the negligence of his lawyer’ as of the date of sentencing, June 15, 2004.”

Also noteworthy: the court asks for additional briefing in In the Interest of: J.T., a Minor, D. T. and M. T. v. Hinds County Youth Court, a Hinds Youth Court case. “The Court has determined that supplemental briefing is necessary to resolve this case. The Court hereby orders Judge Skinner on his own behalf or through counsel, and invites all parties and the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office, to brief whether the Mississippi Rules of Evidence apply in youth court sexual abuse adjudication hearings.”


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