Rachel Smith v. David Smith – custody/GAL role – Rachel and David married in 2013 and had two children, a girl and a boy. In 2011, they met with a counselor and Rachel accused David of molesting their daughter. Law enforcement investigated and filed no charges. Rachel filed for divorce and continued to allege that David molested their five year old daughter. The court appointed a GAL. At first David had supervised visitation but after a year let David have unsupervised visitation. The GAL made no recommendation on custody and was only asked to opine regarding visitation. The GAL recommended that David continue with unsupervised visitation. The chancellor found no evidence of molestation and granted custody of the daughter to David. Apparently the chancellor was concerned that Rachel still allowed David to bathe their daughter but put up hidden cameras to catch him in the act. Rachel appeals arguing, among other things, that the GAL should have been asked to opine with regard to custody. The Miss.S.Ct. affirms finding that while appointment of a GAL is mandatory where there are allegations of abuse, it was not error for the chancellor to make an independent determination as to custody.
We find the fact the chancellor made an independent custody assessment is not, itself, error. Furthermore, after review, we find no error in the chancellor’s ultimate custody decision, evidentiary rulings, and award of costs to the husband. We do, however, find the chancellor should have explained why he rejected the GAL’s recommendation1 that the minor children be assessed and counseled. But we find this omission was harmless error and does not require reversal.
Eddie Terrell Hall v. State of Mississippi – court selecting foreman – The Court affirmed Hall’s conviction in March but granted rehearing. It still affirms but substitutes its opinion. Hall raised several issues which the Court found he had waived by not raising them at trial. One issue was the trial court’s selecting the jury foreman which the Court found was harmless given the evidence of Hall’s guilt.
Howard Wilson Carney, III v. Andrea Leigh Bell Carney – division of marital assets – Howard and Andrea married in 1998. They separated in 2008. The trial court awarded Andrea the marital home. On appeal, the Court reversed finding that the award was error where the chancellor gave no explanation. On remand the chancellor again awarded Andrea the marital home “explaining that she had awarded all the equity to the wife to avoid an award of lump sum alimony, and providing additional reasons for the award, which were that the majority of the equity had come from the wife’s contribution of $165,000 in life insurance proceeds toward the purchase of the residence, and that the wife had strong emotional ties to that home, which had been her family’s “home place” since 1937.”
Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance v. Justice Court Judge Bill Weisenberger – judge stripped of office – As everyone knows, Justice Court Judge Weisenberger was accused of physically and verbally assaulting a mentally disabled individual at the 2014 Canton Flea Market. “Because of the egregious nature of Weisenberger’s actions, this Court agrees with the Commission’s recommendation and removes Weisenberger from office. Weisenberger is directed to pay a fine in the amount of $1,000 and costs of these proceedings in the amount of $5,918.46.” Weisenberger is said to be preparing his 2020 presidential bid. (That was a joke).
And the Court grants an interlocutory appeal in Baptist Memorial Hospital-DeSoto, Inc. v. Sonya Rankin, as Conservator for Willie A. Rankin; and Virginia Rankin, Individually which presents the issue of whether a medical malpractice suit can be initiated by a conservator on behalf of the ward without the conservator first having obtained consent of the chancery court as required by MCA § 93-13-27.
And whoever is running that attack ad against Judge Jim Kitchens should be ashamed of themselves.