Decisions – Miss.S.Ct. – Aug. 31, 2017

A hearing was In the Matter of the Estate of C.W. White, Deceased: Anita White, Individually and as Executrix of the Estate of C.W. White v. Charles Tommy White  transfer of property – Bill  White  and his son  Tommy White  were partners in a business that owned and operated convenience stores. In 2000,  Bill married Anita White. In  2005, Tommy bought his father’s share of the partnership but they neglected to execute and file deeds transferring the partnership’s real property. When Bill”s health declined in 2009,  Tommy used a durable power of attorney his father had given him years before to execute quit-claim deeds transferring the partnership property to himself.  Tommy sought a conservatorship but because Tommy and Anita clashed the conservator appointed a third person.   When Bill died,  Anita filed suit to set aside the quit-claim deeds and to redeem the real property Tommy had acquired using his father’s power of attorney.   The chancellor held that Anita’s action was barred by res judicata. She appealed and the Miss.S. Ct. reversed. “On remand, the chancellor determined the properties at issue were partnership property and concluded that the 2005 instrument Bill used to dissolve the partnership contained all the requirements to effect the transfer of property. Because the property was transferred to Tommy in 2005, it was not owned by Bill at the time of his death and therefore could not pass to Anita through the residuary clause of Bill’s will.”  Anita appealed. The Miss.S.Ct affirms.

Scott Penn, Inc., Austin, Inc., Kent Hillman Logging, Inc., Winona Hardwood, Inc., Tallahatchie Hardwood, Inc., Greg Winstead Logging, Inc. and Southern Logging, Inc. v. Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Group Self-Insurer Guaranty Association –  workers comp – In January  2009, the Commission entered an order accepting the surrender of
Comp Choice’s Certificate of Authority and terminating  CompChoice’s status as an approved group self-insurer fund.  It then assessed the former members of Compchoice a total of almost $2 million.  Some of the former members challenged the assessment.  When the Guaranty Assoc. did not receive payment, it filed suit in Madison County Circuit Court which granted summary judgment for the Assoc. The former members of Compchoice appealed. The Miss. S. Ct. affirms.
Winfred Forkner v. State of Mississippi – pcr  jurisdiction–   Forkner and April Harrison were charged with having stolen  air-conditioning units from two hunting camps. Fortner was indicted as an habitual and found guilty on one of the two counts.  He was sentenced to life without parole.  He lost on direct appeal and filed three pcrs which were all denied.   In  January 2014, Forkner filed a motion under for relief under MRCP 60(b).  The trial court denied it and he appealed.  The COA dismissed the appeal. “Forkner’s motion is not a proper Rule 60(b) motion, and the supreme court denied all requests for permission to file a PCR motion. Accordingly, the circuit court lacked jurisdiction to consider Forkner’s motion, and we lack jurisdiction over his appeal. Forkner’s appeal is dismissed.” The Miss. S. Ct. granted cert. and finds that the COA did have jurisdiction.

The Court of Appeals correctly found that, because Forkner had filed his motion in the wrong court, neither it nor the circuit court had authority to adjudicate the merits of the motion. But the Court of Appeals incorrectly found that it lacked jurisdiction to determine whether the circuit court had authority to entertain the motion. A final judgment from which a timely notice of appeal was filed confers jurisdiction upon an appellate court to determine whether the circuit court’s disposition was lawful. M.R.A.P. 4(a). Thus, the Court of Appeals had jurisdiction to determine whether the circuit court’s disposition of Forkner’s motion was lawful, and it erred by failing to recognize its jurisdiction. Accordingly, the Court of Appeals’ dismissal of the appeal for lack of appellate jurisdiction was erroneous. Because the Court of Appeals had jurisdiction to consider Forkner’s appeal, it should have vacated the order of the circuit court that erroneously adjudicated his motion for post-conviction relief without authority.

Forkner still loses (it’s slightly confusing).

Amanda M. Copeland v. Gary Neal Copeland, Jr.termination of support where children loathe their father  –   Gary and Amanda divorced and were awarded joint legal custody of their minor children, with physical custody awarded to Amanda and visitation awarded to Gary.  Gary later filed to modify custody.
At a hearing, the 17 year old daughter and 13 year old son testified that they hated their father.  The chancellor stated that “the only time in which the children had any physical contact or personal contact with their father since this divorce was when they wanted something by way of money or possessions.” He found that the children’s conduct had severed the relationship to the point that Gary was relieved legally of any support of the children. Amanda appealed. She first argues that Gary did not request such relief.  The Court finds that Gary’s motion mentioned child support. She then argues that there was not a change in circumstances.  The court affirms.

This Court in Caldwell held that a minor child could “forfeit his support from a noncustodial parent,” if the child’s conduct was “clear and extreme.” Caldwell, 579 So. 2d at 548. We find no error in the chancellor’s findings that the children’s clear and extreme conduct forfeited their right to support from their father.


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