Decisions – COA – 6/26/2018

Hand down list

Michael Bernard Moore  v. State of Mississippi –  post-conviction – In 2011, Michael Bernard Moore pled guilty to statutory rape. In 2016 he filed a  motion for post-conviction relief  arguing that his indictment was invalid,  lack of subject matter jurisdiction, ineffective assistance of counsel, and double jeopardy. The  trial court dismissed it without a hearing finding that it was procedurally barred and meritless.  The COA affirms.

Malcolm K. Patrick  v. State of Mississippi   sufficiency of evidence/receiving stolen property –  Patrick was found guilty of receiving stolen property and sentenced to ten years. He raises several issues on appeal. The COA finds that the sentence was capped at 5 years but, more importantly,  that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction and reverses and renders.  Perry Stroud’s 4 wheeler was stolen in Scott County. A citizen,  Willie Wilson told police that he had seen Patrick riding it. Wilson agreed to help police by offering to purchase the 4 wheeler.  Wilson called Patrick who offered to sell if for $750 and the transaction was recorded.

Patrick contends that the State presented no evidence as to how he came into
possession of the four-wheeler. “Unexplained possession of recently stolen property,
standing alone, is insufficient to satisfy the guilty knowledge required as an element for the crime of receiving stolen property.” McClain v. State, 625 So. 2d 774, 779 (Miss. 1993). We agree, based on Whatley, that the evidence is insufficient to show that Patrick knew that the four-wheeler had been stolen; therefore, we find that the State failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Patrick was guilty of receiving stolen property. We reverse and render the judgment of the Scott County Circuit Court finding Patrick guilty of receiving stolen property, and the accompanying sentence.

Roger Dale Latham v. Terry W. Johnson, John W. Robinson III and Craig Trahan –  partnership/prejudgment interest – Roger Dale Latham owned land in the Mississippi Delta that he used  primarily to hunt ducks.  Terry W. Johnson did some work on the land and he and Latham became friends.  John W. Robinson III and Craig Trahan were also Latham’s friends and would pay Latham  for the right to hunt ducks on his land. In  2007, Johnson told Latham about a 170 acre tract in Sunflower County that was offered at  $750 per acre.  They thought it would be perfect for duck hunting.  According to Johnson, Robinson, and Trahan, they agreed to form a partnership to purchase the property.  Latham would investigate financing options for the purchase, Johnson would determine what improvements needed to be made to the property, Trahan would bush hog the property, and Robinson would research and investigate the adjacent landowner’s claim of access rights over the property.  For certain reasons, they agreed to finance the property in Latham’s name but they would all share equally in the expenses and that Latham would convey title to the partnership.  Latham ended up getting a loan from the Land Bank and purchased the acreage for $127,500. In 2008 and 2009, the three partners each made payments of approximately $3,666 toward the loan. In 2009, a neighboring landowner agreed to purchase the property for $365,500.  Latham deposited the check into his own account and refused to share the proceeds with the partners.  In 2011, they sued Latham.  A jury   jury returned a verdict for Johnson, Robinson, and Trahan in the amount of $176,352.24.  Latham appealed.  Johnson, Robinson, and Trahan cross appeal arguing that they were entitled to pre-judgment interest. The COA finds no merit in Latham’s issues but reverses the decision not to award pre-judgment interest.

Here, since Johnson, Robinson, and Trahan’s damages were determined by the
partnership agreement when the breached occurred and no bona fide dispute exists as to the amount, we find Johnson, Robinson, and Trahan’s damages are liquidated. As a result, they are entitled to prejudgment interest. Accordingly, the circuit court erred in denying the motion for prejudgment interest.

 

Gecko Outdoor Products Corporation, Christopher N. Gardner and Mainstream Fab Inc. v. Casablanca Construction. Inc. –  breach of contract/successor in interest – Casablanca was hired as the general contractor on the Rodenberg Avenue Beach Comfort Station Project in Biloxi in 2012.   Casablanca entered into a subcontract with Panhandle  signed by Tabby Waters as president of Panhandle and witnessed by Christopher Gardner. For $122,144.12 Panhandle would  fabricate and install metal handrails. The subcontract included a time-is-of-the-essence requirement and a liquidated-damages clause.  Saucier and Gardner  informed Casablanca that they were encountering financial difficulties manufacturing the handrails.  During that time they changed the name of their company.  Ultimately, Gecko failed to produce satisfactory handrails. Casablanca  sued Gecko Outdoor Products Corp. and Mainstream Fab Inc. as successors-in-interest to Panhandle as well as Christopher Gardner, individually.  The  trial court determined that the company remained the same regardless of the name changes; it also pierced the corporate veil and found Gardner liable.  The court  awarded Casablanca $393,954.58 in damages. On appeal Gardner argued that Waters should have been joined as a necessary party, that Mainstream Fab was not a successor to Panhandle and that it was error to pierce the corporate veil.  The COA affirms.

Pro se PCR appeals:
Calvin Lee Robinson  v. State of Mississippi

Clifford Pitts v. State of Mississippi

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