Decisions – MSSC – 5/10/2018

Hand down list 

Willard Randall Marquis  v. State of Mississippi –  sexual battery – Marquis was convicted for the sexual battery of five-year-old J.D. Marquis was married to J.D.’s grandmother. J.D. confided the abuse to her mother one night while her mother was bathing her. J.D.’s mother used her cellphone to videotape some of what J.T. told her.   The day before trial, the court conducted a hearing to determine whether J.D. now seven, was competent to testify. The court ruled that she was. On appeal, Marquis argues that the court erred in finding that J.D. was competent to testify. The MSSC holds that Marquis failed to object and preserve this issue.  He also objects that the introduction of the forensic interview of J.D. violated his right to confrontation. The Court finds that Marquis’ right to confrontation was not violated since he had the opportunity to cross examine J.D.  Finally he argues that it was error to admit the cell phone video made by J.D.’s mom. “In the end, in accordance with the great deference afforded to trial judges on the admission of evidence, we find that the admission of the cell-phone recording helped provide context, was necessary to tell a rational and coherent story of the alleged sexual battery, and did not amount to improper bolstering.” The Court affirms.

Rankin County Board of Supervisors v. Lakeland Income Properties, LLC –  ad valorem taxes of airport property – Lakeland Income Properties, LLC appealed the Rankin County Board of Supervisor’s decision in November 2015 to assess ad valorem taxes for property it  leases from the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority. The property, at the  corner of Lakeland Drive and Airport Road,  contains a shopping plaza.  On appeal before the Circuit Court, the Board of Supervisors argued that the appeal should be dismissed because LIP failed to object pursuant to MCA Sect. 27-35-93 prior to appealing. The Court holds that where a property is exempt from taxation, the property owner is not required to file an objection in order to appeal.  The Circuit Court held that LIP was exempt from paying taxes pursuant to  MCA Sect. 6-3-21(3) which exempts airport property.  The MSSC upholds this decision but finds that LIP is entitled to a refund of not only the 2015 taxes but the two previous years as well.

D. W. Caldwell, Inc. v. W.G. Yates & Sons Construction Companyarbitration – Yates Construction and D.W. Caldwell , entered into a construction subcontract
for the roof installation on a dormitory at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama. Caldwell discovered repairs that needed to be made before the roof was installed. Rather than amending the existing subcontract or creating a new contract for the cost to  repair,  Yates urged Caldwell to bill against “unperformed work” for those costs related to the extra work completed.  Caldwell orally agreed and required that it be paid weekly, on a “cost plus overhead and profit basis.” When Caldwell submitted its final bill, there was a dispute.   The parties proceeded to arbitration. The arbitrator issued a decision in December 2015.   Yates timely filed a motion for clarification and/or correction of the arbitration award, which was summarily dismissed by the arbitrator.  Caldwell
requested that the circuit court confirm the award under MCA  11-15-125. Yates moved the trial court to alter, amend, or vacate the award under MCA 11-15-25. The trial curt ended up modifying the award and reducing it by $104,507  based on what it called a  “facially evident miscalculation which permitted . . . Caldwell to receive double payment.”  On appeal, the MSSC reverses. “Based on the analysis below, this Court finds that the arbitrator’s award contained no evident miscalculations which would merit modification. Moreover, the circuit court erred by allowing Yates to present witnesses before the court. Therefore, we reverse the decision of the Neshoba County Circuit Court and remand for the court to confirm the arbitration award.”

Damion LaFredrick Pace  v. State of Mississippi conviction for robbery where indictment was for burglary – Pace was indicted for one count of burglary, two counts of kidnapping, one count of forcible rape, and one count of extortion.  Two people broke into an occupied house and  stole various items.  They them forced the homeowner Jessica Goodwin who was holding her four month old daughter to accompany them  in their car where they were joined by Pace, a former schoolmate of Goodwin’s.  The men asked Goodwin how she could obtain money and had her call her stepmother and ask for $2000.  Pace raped Goodwin. After picking up $500 left in a paper bag by Goodwin’s father, the men dropped Goodwin and her baby off at her home. The juryacquitted Pace of forcible rape, but convicted him of one count of extortion, two counts of kidnapping, and one count of robbery despite the fact that Pace had been indicted for burglary and the jury was instructed on burglary.  The MSSC affirms on all of the convictions except for the robbery. It vacates and renders on robbery since Pace was not indicted for robbery and robbery is not a  lesser included of burglary.

Monty Y. Brown, Individually and as “Manager One” of Browne, LLC; Brownsville, LLC; and Browne, LLC v. George C. McKee, Individually and as “Manager” of Browne, LLC and as “Manager” of Brownsville Station, LLC; and Brownsville Station, LLCSOL in business dispute – Brown and McKee were 50/50 partners is a business, Brownsville Station,  that operated an apartment complex in Starkville.  From July 2003 to January 2006, through a series of four agreements, Brown transferred all his interest units to McKee in exchange for $150,000 and title to the company.   In April 2013, Brown sued McKee over the agreements claiming that McKee violated hus fiduciary duty, withheld information, etc. The trial court granted summary judgment on the grounds the statute of limitations had run.  Brown appealed arguing that he was entitled to conduct discovery before the curt considered a motion for summary judgment.  The MSSC affirms finding that generally a party would be entitled to conduct discovery but here summary judgment was granted on SOL grounds. “Brown’s claims are indisputably time-barred. Moreover, the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it denied Brown’s motion for postponement to conduct discovery, as none of Brown’s discovery requests were aimed at proving his untimely claims were not barred.”


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