Decisions – Miss.S.Ct. – April 27, 2017

Christopher Scott Routh v. State of Mississippi – contempt –  Routh is a public defender in Hinds County.  He represented a woman charged with capital murder who had been out on house arrest prior to being indicted.  At her arraignment, Routh argued unsuccessfully to allow her to remain out on bond.  One reason was that she was breastfeeding a newborn.  The judge denied bond but stated he would reconsider his position upon a properly filed motion.   Routh asked if he could make an argument.   The judge said no because the hearing was over. “Routh launched into his argument anyway. At the same time the judge was asking him to sit down, Routh asserted that the Constitution required the reason denying bail be placed on the record. He then accused the judge of failing to do so.Roth continued to argue for bond.”  The judge then held Routh in direct criminal contempt and ordered him to jail but allowed an appeal with supersedeas upon posting of a $500 bond.   On appeal the Miss.S.Ct. affirms. “Disrupting the court by disputing a judge’s ruling—after being expressly told not to—supports a finding of criminal contempt. We therefore affirm Routh’s conviction of direct criminal contempt.”

The Court grants certiorari in the slip and fall case of  Aundrea Robinson v. Martin Food Stores, Inc. d/b/a Sunflower Food Stores of Magnolia (the link is to the COA opinion ).  Robinson was injured when he slipped and fell in a puddle at a grocery store.  The court granted summary judgment for the store.  The puddle had apparently been created when the beer man (a non-employee) was stocking  the beer cooler.  An employee testified that the puddle had not been there five or ten minutes previously and, thus, the store did not have constructive knowledge of it.  Robinson argues that the store’s loss of the video and incident report should have created a presumption in her favor.   The COA affirms finding that the spoilation argument had not really been preserved and, further, “summary judgment would have been properly granted even if Robinson had received the spoliation inference he requests on appeal.”

The cert petition argues that “[f]or over a decade, the Supreme Court has been clear that the destruction or loss of evidence by a party warrants a negative inference at trial. Yet the Opinion by the Court of Appeals tightly restricts this precedent, in doing so weakening the very purpose of the Supreme Court’s ruling in the first place.”

Robinson cert ptn



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