Decisions – COA – Oct. 17, 2017


Clyde Chatman, Jr.  v. State of Mississippiright to confront witnesses  -Clyde Chatman was convicted of the murder of Patrick Williams.   Williams was visiting his girlfriend, Tanedra Christian, in Jonestown.  They were on the front porch when a white car drove by.  Williams walked towards his house.  A few minutes later, Christian heard gunshots. Williams was found lying on the ground.   When Christian asked who shot him, he replied: “Those mother f***ers from Friars Point.”   He later told his aunt that “Little Clyde and them” had shot him and that they were driving a “white car.”  Williams died at the scene.  Three people,  Chatman,  Reginald Cox, and John Battle were arrested.  Chatman testified that he was in Jonestown driving the white Crown Victoria with the windows down. He told the jury that  Williams ran up to his car and “attacked” him. Then he heard gunshots and saw Battle shooting a gun.  On appeal, he argues that his right to confrontation was violated when a deputy testified that they were able to recover a gun based on what Battle told law enforcement. The COA notes that Chatman failed to object at trial. Furthermore,  “Deputy Bee’s mention of Battle’s statement was elicited to show how police conducted their investigation for the weapon; there was nothing testimonial about the statement.”   Chatman also argues weight and sufficiency of the evidence. The COA affirms.

Sarah McKenzie Rayner v. Chance D. Simsjoint custody – Mackie Rayner  and Chance Sims lived together for a while and had a daughter  born in November 2013.  Chance filed to adjudicate  paternity, etc.   Mackie maintained that  Chance only have restricted visitation rights, limited to “the daytime only and supervised by a suitable person.” Teh chancellor ended up ordering that Chance  have physical custody of Frances three days/nights per week, and Mackie would have physical custody of Frances four days/nights per week. The chancellor also  ordered the parties to pay child support “based upon 14 percent of each party’s adjusted-gross income” and “in proportion to their periods of shared custody and their incomes.”  Mackie appealed arguing that joint custody was error when the parties cannot get along.  The COA affirms.

Here, although Mackie opposed Chance’s request for joint physical custody, the
record shows both Mackie and Chance are capable of sharing joint custody cooperatively.  Although the parties do not always agree, they are willing and able to communicate with each other regarding Frances. Additionally, the parties successfully worked together to implement the visitation schedule ordered by the chancellor. Moreover, both parties testified that they wanted Frances to be close to the other.

Mitchell Roberts  v. State of Mississippi aggravated DUI – Mitchell James Roberts was convicted of aggravated driving under the influence after having been found to have been operating a vehicle while using  Xanax.  His truck crossed the median and crashed into a vehicle killing the 14 year old passenger  Arnold Altman Jr.  Roberts denied having taken any drugs but a blood test revealed Roberts had fifty-one nanograms per milliliter of Xanax in his system.  On appeal Roberts argues weight and sufficiency of the evidence.  He argues that it violated his right to confront the witnesses against him when the lab supervisor was allowed to testify  regarding the results of Roberts’s blood and urine  even though he did not conduct the testing himself.  And, finally, he argues that it was prosecutorial misconduct for the state to argue as follows: “It ain’t about nothing except you good people in Lauderdale County letting him know that you’re not going to allow him to drive impaired on the highway and kill our children.”  The COA affirms.

Leonard Alpert, Izabella Alpert, and Thuy Land Pawn Shop, Inc. v. City of Biloxi, Mississippi – realignment of city street –  The owner of the Imperial Palace Casino and  Seymour Engineering submitted an application to the Biloxi Planning Commission seeking to vacate and realign a portion of Fayard Street. The northern portion of Fayard Street functioned as a public right-of-way. Boyd sought to install and dedicate a new public right-of-way, which would realign Fayard Street with Bayview Avenue, a five-lane thoroughfare. The application was approved.  A nearby business owner objected arguing that the changes eliminated any parking for his business.  The business owners, the Alperts, appealed. The circuit court found that the City’s decision was based on substantial evidence and  would improve safety and correct the deficiencies at the intersection of Fayard Street and Bayview Avenue. On appeal to the COA, the COA affirms.




Joseph Thompson, Individually and in his Capacity as the Administrator of the Estate of Vickie Thompson, Deceased v. William P. Meyer, John M. Meyer, and Bud’s Mobile Homes, Inc.   – dismissal for want of prosecution –  In 2003, the Thompsons created  a joint venture with John Meyer and William Meyer involving End of the Rainbow Trailer Park.  The Thompsons would sign over all rights to their property, and, in exchange,
Meyer would pay the existing debt on the property in furtherance of purchasing it. Meyer also agreed to remit any rents to the Thompsons that were in excess of the amount needed to service the debt pursuant to the partnership agreement.  In 2005, Meyer notified that  Thompsons that they had violated the agreement by encumbering the property with further debt and, thus, that the agreement was null and void because they had not remedied the breach. In 2008, the Thompsons filed a complaint for a preliminary injunction claiming that the Meyers failed to honor any of their contractual obligations other than accepting the transfer of the property from the Thompsons. Not much else happened after that until the chancellor dismissed the case for lack of prosecution.  Seven months later the Thompsons filed a motion to set aside the dismissal.  It was denied.  On appeal, the COA affirms.



Curtis Brown v. Professional Building Services, Inc.negligence – Curtis Brown was the clubhouse manager at Colonial Country Club in Jackson.  He was injured when he stumbled and fell over a chair left in the doorway to the grill.  Brown sued Professional Building Services, the club’s cleaning service, claiming that they left the chair in the doorway.   The jury returned a verdict for PBS.  On appeal  Brown argues that the trial judge abused his discretion by (1) overruling Brown’s objection to a photo of a chair in the doorway to the grill, (2) denying Brown’s request for a jury instruction that specifically mentioned that the overhead lights in the grill were turned off, (3) allowing a defense expert in biomechanics to testify that Brown’s claim that he suffered bilateral patellar tendon ruptures bywalking into a chair was not “plausible,” (4) excluding one answer from his treating physician’s deposition testimony regarding the
general possibility that there could be mistakes in medical records, and (5) by responding to a note from a juror with a general instruction to continue deliberations.  The COA affirms.

Amaria Vassar v. David Vassarcustody/division of marital assets –  David and Amaria married on November 8, 2007.  They had a son in 2013 and separated in 2015.  Amaria filed for divorce in May 2015 and David filed a counter-complaint.  They agreed to an irreconcilable differences divorce and submitted custody, division of assets and alimony to the chancellor. The chancellor awarded  David custody with  Amaria to pay David $443 per month in child support.  The chancellor awarded David the exclusive use and
possession of the marital home until their son  reached the age of twenty-one.  In dividing the property, each party was ordered  to pay one half of the mortgage, insurance, and taxes on the home but the chancellor ordered Amaria to pay David’s half for him, which the chancellor characterized “periodic alimony” of $638 per month.   Amaria was ordered to pay David’s attorney’s fees in the amount of
$10,058.25.  The judge found that Amaria was in contempt because she willfully
violated a  temporary order by ceasing to pay the mortgage and disconnecting the
utilities on the marital home.  He  ordered her  to be incarcerated immediately
and to remain in jail until she purged herself of contempt by paying $12,997.65, the amount of the arrearage on the mortgage. (Amaria served 47 days until she filed for bankruptcy and was released).   On appeal the COA affirms the custody determination but reverses on  child support, alimony, and attorney’s fees. “As discussed below, the sum total of the obligations that the divorce decree imposed on Amaria were beyond her ability to pay. In addition, the chancellor set child support based on an incorrect income figure and did not make findings under Ferguson v. Ferguson, 639 So. 2d 921, 928 (Miss. 1994), to support the division of the marital property. The chancellor also erred in awarding attorney’s fees, as the record shows that Amaria was unable to pay.”

Pro se PCR appeals affirmed:

Samuel Conwill  v. State of Mississippi

Lyndon B. Britain  v. State of Mississippi

Eli Orr v. State of Mississippi

Robert K. Duncan  v. State of Mississippi


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