Decisions – MSSC – 1/11/2018

In the Matter of the Adoption of the Child Described in the Petition: D.D.H., Patrick Latrell Gray and Felicia Hannah Dotchadoption without terminating parental rights – Patrick Latrell Grayand Felecia Hannah Dotch petitioned the Attala County Chancery
Court to allow Gray to adopt D.D.H. without terminating Dotch’s parental rights. Dortch gave birth to a daughter, D.D.H.,  in 2003.  She had been in a relationship with Gray and they assumed he was the father.  More than ten years later, he discovered he was not her father but he had acted as her parent throughout her life  – while he and Dortch were in a romantic relation and even after.  DDH’s real father is unknown.  Once they realized Gray was not the father, Gray and Dortch petitioned the court t o allow Gray to adopt her. The chancellor found that he was constrained by the statutes in doing so and denied the adoption.  The Miss.S.Ct. reverses finding that such an adoption is not prohibited by Mississippi law. Since Gray is married, his wife should join in the petition (which does not mean that she is asking for and getting any parental rights).

 Under the facts of the instant case, if the chancellor—on remand—makes a finding
that the adoption is in the best interests of D.D.H., the “otherwise specifically stated”
language of Section 93-17-13(2) allows Gray to adopt the child and allows Dotch to keep her parental rights. Our holding is narrowly tailored to the following facts: (1) Gray has acted in loco parentis; (2) he is seeking to adopt and would be adopting as the father; (3) he is seeking to raise the child in concert with Dotch, the natural mother; (4) his spouse will be joined to the proceeding, and (5) there are no third parties to the adoption seeking to keep parental rights.

Tony Swinney  v. State of Mississippisufficiency of evidence to prove prior used to enhance sentence –  Tony Swinney was convicted of robbing a conveniance store in Flora.  His sister drove Tony and their cousin LaMarvin Swinney to rob Bullets on the morning of April 2, 2015.  The sister had worked at Bullets and been fired for theft and the owner of the store recognized her. LeMarvin testified against Tony at trial and Tony was convicted. On appeal he argues that his right to remain silent when law enforcement was allowed to testify that there was an attempt to interview Tony but he declined.  There was no objection at trial and it is unclear whether Tony had been given his Miranda rights. The court notes that  there is a split of authority on whether the introduction of a defendant’s post arrest, pre-Miranda silence during the prosecution’s case-in-chief violates a defendant’s Fifth Amendment privilege against self incrimination. Since there was no objection, it would have to rise to the level of plain error to be reversible and the court finds that it does not.  Tony also objects to hearsay and other bad acts and complains that his trial attorney was ineffective. The M.S.Ct. finds no reversible error but does reverse on the sentencing of Tony as an habitual since the state agrees that the evidence was insufficient to show that Tony had served at least a year on  two priors. The paperwork has a start date on both priors but no indication of how much time he served.




Watson Laboratories, Inc. and Actavis Pharma, Inc. f/k/a Watson Pharma, Inc. v. State of Mississippi –  drug prices charged to Medicaid – In 2005, the State of Mississippi filed suit against prescription drug manufacturers alleging common-law fraud and
violations of the Mississippi Consumer Protection Act alleging that the manufacturers inflated reported prices which caused the Mississippi Division of Medicaid to reimburse pharmacies at the inflated rates.   Following a bench trial, the Rankin County Chancery Court concluded that Watson had committed common-law fraud and had violated the Mississippi Consumer Protection Act and  awarded the State a total of $30,262,052 in civil penalties, compensatory damages, and punitive damages. The chancery court also awarded post-judgment interest of three percent on the compensatory and punitive damages. Watson appealed and the  State cross-appealed. The Mississippi Supreme Court affirms.





In Re Eddie Earl Phillips defendant’s right to record of appeal after appeal  – The Court grants rehearing and grants Phillips’ motion for a free copy of his records and transcripts from his direct appeal.

After due consideration, we find the motion is untimely: it was filed more than 14
days after this Court’s ruling. M.R.A.P. 27(h). Nevertheless, we find Rule 27(h) should be suspended, M.R.A.P. 2(c), and that the unique circumstances here warrant granting reconsideration and allowing Phillips a free copy of his records and transcripts.


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