Decisions – COA – 3/13/2019

Hand down list

Darnell Donte Marion v. State of Mississippi –  tender years – When Marion was evicted from his apartment, a friend let him stay with her.  He ended up sexually abusing her seven-year-old sister M.B. He was convicted of one count of touching M.B. for lustful
purposes and was sentenced to fifteen years.  On appeal he argues that the trial court erred in admitting M.B.’s testimony under the “tender years” exception.  “Marion maintains that the trial court did not make an on-the-record finding that M.B.
was of tender years or that her statements disclosing the abuse were credible and provided substantial indicia of reliability.” THe COA finds that while the trial court did not make findings, he had a hearing and found that while she was of tender years, “the time, content, and circumstances of M.B.’s statement provided a substantial indicia of reliability.”   He next argues that it was error to allow into evidence video taken from Marion’s cell phone of M.B. sleeping.  The COA finds no error and affirms.

Derrick Young v. State of Mississippidefendant’s removal from courtroom because of outbursts – Young was convicted on one count of armed robbery and one count of felon in possession of a firearm. During the trial he had to be removed because of his belligerent outbursts.  His attorney  moved for a mistrial on the grounds that the jury panel had seen some of Young’s outbursts and had heard an altercation between Young and law enforcement officers when he was removed from the courtroom.  He was later allowed back in to testify and remained at trial. On appeal he argues that his 6th Amendment right to be present at trial was violated by his removal. That, at the very least, the judge should have told him that he could return to the courtroom if his behavior improved.  The opinion describes in full Young’s outbursts that started when he insisted he be allowed new counsel although he had been represented by the same p.d. for a year and a half.  The COA affirms

Dana Wilson and Kevin Wilson v. Becky Wilson –  denial of a permanent restraining order – After living with his wife for 19 years, Kevin left, bought a new house on Main Street in Natchez, and moved his girlfriend Dana in with him.  This necessarily put a strain on his dealings with Becky and after a few outbursts on her part, Kevin sought a restraining order.  The court eventually grated summary judgment to Becky, By that time, the complaint had been filed over six months previously and things had calmed down. The court granted it and Kevin and new wife Dana appealed. The COA affirms.  “The Wilsons’ original complaint failed to allege any specific events or instances of behavior. The only time frame alleged was ‘over the past several months.’  The requested supplementation provided by the Wilsons showed no recent issues, except for a note allegedly left on their door in February 2017 and the incident on May 9. Regarding the note left on the door, we agree with the chancery court’s finding that the note was ‘relatively harmless’ and did not create a genuine issue of material fact. The note simply told Kevin Becky had wanted to buy the house and complimented him on his ‘good taste.'”

Amber Nicole Hewlett Brown v. James Edwin Hewlett, III –   contempt for denial of visitation – Amber and James divorced and Amber moved to Missouri.  They agreed their child would move to Missouri with Amber but less than four months later, Amber refused James both telephonic and in-person visitation.  James filed for contempt.  There was a hearing but Amber did not appear.  The chancellor found her in contempt and ordered her to pay James  $5,000 in attorney’s fees. On appeal she argues that the chancellor erred in  (1) denying her requests for a continuance and discovery; (2) finding her in contempt; and (3) awarding attorney’s fees to Hewlett.  The COA affirms.

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