At 10:00 the COA will hear the case of James Christopher Skinner v. State of Mississippi.
Skinner was convicted in 2011 of felony evasion of police. This crime has a maximum penalty of 5 years but Skinner was sentenced to life without parole because he had priors of attempted armed carjacking and aggravated assault in 1994 when he was fifteen years old, and possessing less than two grams of cocaine in 2006, when he was almost twenty-eight years old. Pursuant to MCA Sect. 99-19-83, the sentence for a
felony conviction must be enhanced to life-without-parole if the defendant has previously served at least one year in a penal institution for two separate felony convictions, and at least one of those prior felonies was a violent crime.
His conviction and sentence were affirmed on direct appeal but after he filed a pcr challenging the sentence, the MSSC granted him leave to file his motion in the trial court. Two months later the trial court dismissed the motion without requiring the state to respond are holding a hearing. The court held that the issue of whether his sentence was constitutional was barred by res judicata and that there was no law allowing the sentence to take into consideration mitigating circumstances.
Skinner is represented by Jacob Howard at the MacArthur Justice Institute who wrote a very nice brief so the argument ought to be very good as well.
Skinner’s reply brief
Watch the argument here.