Decisions -MSSC – 6/7/2018

Hand down list

Derrick Ramone Hall –  sufficiency of the evidence/murder –  Hall was convicted of the May 6, 2015 murder of  Kathryn Peacock whose body  was found in her home with more than 30 stab wounds.  Police found blood splattered clothing at the scene along with other evidence.  That same day, Hall’s mother approached police and told them that her son had returned home wearing clothing much too small for him.  Blood inside Peacock’s car matched Hall and blood found on items in Hall’s home matched Peacock’s DNA. Hall testified at trial and explained that he had smoked marijuana with Peacock that day and he had hurt his hand on a grill and that was why the blood was found.  He later found Peacock’s body, got blood on him, and fled. On appeal he argues that the evidence was insufficient. the MSSC affirms.
Tanya Dale Wright Sanderson v. Hobson L. Sanderson, Jr. –  prenup – Tanya and  Hobson were married for 17 years  when they sought a divorce.  Tanya signed a prenuptial agreement the day before their marriage.  The  chancellor enforced the terms of the agreement and  Tanya appeals.  On the first appeal the  Miss.S.Ct. affirmed the trial court on its finding that the prenuptial agreement is not procedurally unconscionable but reversed on  substantive unconscionability.  On remand, the chancellor found the prenup substantively conscionable.  “After a detailed Ferguson analysis, the chancellor then awarded Tanya $537.42—the balance of the joint bank account at the time of Tanya and Hob’s final separation.” Tanya appealed. The MSSC affirms.

M.A.S. v. Mississippi Department of Human Services –  adoption and termination of parental rights under 2016 law  – DCGP was nine months old when he was taken to the ER by his parents A.B.G.P. and C.P. Doctors suspected abuse and DHS removed the child and placed him in foster care with M.A.S.  MDHS then filed a petition with the Youth Court which ordered that the child remain under MDHS’s protection. M.A.S. fostered  the child for two years. At a hearing in November 2016, the  youth court  determined reunification with his parents was in the best interest of the child and adopted a plan to reunify the child with his parents. M.A.S. then filed an adoption petition in the chancery court.  A.B.G.P. and C.P. moved to dismiss M.A.S.’s petition because the youth court had original exclusive jurisdiction over whether to terminate their parental rights.  “Based on the 2016 amendments to the termination-of-parental-rights law, the chancellor agreed with the parents that the youth court had exclusive jurisdiction over M.A.S.’s petition to terminate parental rights.”  M.A.S. appealed. The MSSC affirms.

 Prior to April 2016, a chancellor could, as part of a contested adoption, terminate the parents’ rights, even when the termination issue was pending in youth court as part of a child-abuse proceeding.1 But in April 2016, the adoption and termination-of-parental-rights statutes changed. Now, a chancellor cannot grant an adoption contested by the parents unless the parents’ rights have been terminated under the Mississippi Termination of Parental Rights Law (MTPRL).  And under the MTPRL, the Legislature has carved out an important exception to the chancery court’s jurisdiction over termination proceedings, giving “a county court, when sitting as a youth court with jurisdiction of a child in an abuse or neglect proceeding, original exclusive jurisdiction to hear a petition for termination of parental rights against a parent of that child.”

City of Horn Lake, Mississippi, Joey Treadway, Tax Collector of DeSoto County; Parker Pickle, Tax Assessor of DeSoto County; W.E. Davis, DeSoto County Chancery Clerk; and DeSoto County, Mississippi v. Sass Muni-V, LLC –   invalid tax sale –  A piece of property in Desoto County was assessed 2007 taxes at $520,508. When the owner failed to pay, the property was offered at a tax sale. Sass Muni was the sucessful bidder at  $530,508. A year after the two-year redemption period expired, Sass Muni filed a complaint asking for the tax sale to be declared void and for the purchase price to be refunded.  The court granted the city and county’s motion to dismiss finding that Sass Muni lacked standing to challenge the tax sale. Sass Muni appealed and the MSSC reversed.  SASS Muni-V, LLC v. DeSoto Cty., 170 So. 3d 441,  (Miss. 2015).  It held that if the clerk failed to comply with the notice procedure, the sale was void.  And Sass Muni had  standing because of its interest in the validity of the title.  On remand, the court granted summary judgment for Sass Muni finding the sale void. The City and County appealed.  Meanwhile Sass Muni filed a motion to correct the judgment to include language that it was to be refunded the purchase price.  On appeal the City and County argue that Sass Muni’s cause of action was  rendered moot when the landowner waives notice of the expiration of the two-year redemption period.  The MSSC affirms.

Cindy W. King v. Mississippi Military Department –  whether termination of civilian employee by the Adjutant General is subject to review by the State Personnel Board –  King had been a civilian employee with the Mississippi Military Department’s environmental office when she was fired for some alleged self dealing involving a land transaction.  She tried to challenge her termination but the Miss. Employee Appeals Board determined that it lacked jurisdiction because King was a military employee and not a state employee.  King appealed arguing that she has  State retirement benefits, had had State health insurance, and State W-2 forms, etc.  The trial court found for the MMD on the grounds that  the Adjutant General has the statutory right to remove any of the employees of the Mississippi Military department at his discretion” pursuant to MCA § 33-3-11(a). King appealed. The MSSC affirms.  “We hold that, while King may be considered a state service employee as defined by the Legislature, the Adjutant General, by virtue of three statutory provisions, is not subject to review by the Board.”


Robert Hammons, Jr. v. C. Wade Navarre, II, Individually and d/b/a Navarre Fabrication, Inc., Navarre Fabrication, Inc., Velcon Filters, LLC, Knappco Corporation and Wilden Pump and Engineering, LLC – fictitious parties –  Robert Hammons Jr. was severely injured in the crash of a helicopter he was piloting.  He filed suit against the manufacturer of the fuel used in the helicopter claiming that it  was defective and contaminated.  His complaint named fictitious parties A-P but did not specify anything about them.  After the SOL expired, he attempted to amend his complaint to substitute defendants who  manufactured or fabricated the fuel truck used to refuel the helicopter and the fuel tank, fuel pump, and fuel filter on the truck.  He alleged, for the first time, that the helicopter’s fuel was contaminated as a result of defects in the truck and/or its  parts. These defendants moved for summary judgment on the grounds the SOL had run. The trial court agreed. The COA affirmed finding that it is well settled that you can’t substitute fictitious parties for real defendants where the complaint says nothing about what the entities supposedly did or the basis of their alleged liability to the plaintiff. The MSSC granted cert and affirms the COA.

Hammons’s amended complaint—fifteen pages longer than his original
complaint—added new parties and new claims against those parties. As the amendment was not a substitution under Mississippi Rule of Civil Procedure 9(h), it does not relate back to the time of filing of the original complaint under Mississippi Rule of Civil Procedure 15(c)(2). Further, the amended complaint was filed outside the statute of limitations, and Hammons’s claim is time-barred. Thus, we affirm the judgment of the circuit court and the decision of the Court of Appeals.

Ricky W. Ward v. Dorothy Winston Colom –  guns in courthouses – In 2011, the Mississippi Legislature amended MCA Sect. 97-37-7 to allow  concealed-carry licensees the privilege of carrying a concealed firearm in the courthouses of this state, save for courtrooms, which the Legislature left within the province of judges. Three chancellor in the Fourteenth Chancery District nonetheless  issued an court order prohibiting enhanced concealed carry licensees from possessing a firearm in and around courthouse buildings of the Fourteenth District. Enhanced concealed-carry licensee Ricky Ward challenged the order and filed a petition to modify or dismiss the order. The chancellors denied the petition.   Ward then filed an Extraordinary Writ of Prohibition in the MSSC. The MSSC  “finds that the orders are facially unconstitutional. Furthermore, the orders defy existing Mississippi statutory and caselaw. Accordingly, the orders are vacated.”

On the Court’s own motion it amends  Mississippi Rule of Criminal Procedure 18 regarding service of arrest warrants.   

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