Articles Posted in Mississippi Supreme Court

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Lessadolla Sowers was convicted in the Tunica County Circuit Court of ten counts of voter fraud as a habitual offender. Mississippi Bureau of Investigations officers determined that a significant number of absentee ballots had been mailed to a post office box held in Sowers's name. She was sentenced to five years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections for each count, with each sentence ordered to run concurrently with the others. Sowers appealed, arguing that the State presented insufficient evidence at trial to sustain the jury's verdicts of guilt on the ten counts of voter fraud and her habitual-offender status. Finding otherwise, the Supreme Court affirmed Sowers's convictions and sentence. View "Sowers v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Latrice Westbrooks filed a Qualifying Statement of Intent with the Secretary of State's Office to declare her intent to be a candidate for the office of Court of Appeals of the State of Mississippi, District 2, Position 2. The State Board of Election Commissioners in a unanimous vote, determined that Westbrooks did not meet the qualifications to seek election. Westbrooks sought judicial review, and the circuit court entered an Order Granting Permanent Injunction and Order Granting Declaratory Judgment. The circuit court ordered the Board immediately to add Westbrooks's name to the ballot as a candidate for the office. Aggrieved, the Board appealed to the Supreme Court via a Bill of Exceptions and a Notice of Appeal. Upon review, the Court found that Westbrooks did not meet the residency requirement. Therefore, the circuit court erred in finding that Westbrooks was a qualified candidate for the position as required for candidacy. The circuit court's Order Granting Permanent Injunction and Order Granting Declaratory Judgment was vacated. View "Bryant v. Westbrooks" on Justia Law

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John Fletcher, John McConnon, and Tom Leader (collectively, "Fletcher") appealed an order of the Chancery Court of Hancock County incorporating the City of Diamondhead, Mississippi. Fletcher argued that the chancery court lacked jurisdiction over the petition for incorporation because it did not include two-thirds of the signatures of the qualified electors residing in the proposed incorporation area, and notice was improper. Fletcher also argued that objectors to the incorporation were denied the right of cross-examination at the hearing, and that the second chancellor's failure to order a new trial was an abuse of discretion. The Supreme Court found that the petition for incorporation met the jurisdictional requirements, because notice was proper and the petitioners presented substantial evidence that the petition contained two-thirds of the signatures of the qualified electors residing in the proposed incorporation area. Furthermore, the Court found that the chancellor did not deny the objectors' right of cross-examination, and the second chancellor's decision not to order a new trial was within his discretion. View "Fletcher v. Diamondhead Incorporators" on Justia Law

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In November 2008, P. Leslie Riley and an organization known as "Personhood Mississippi" filed an initiative, now known as Measure 26, with the Office of the Secretary of State. The initiative was qualified by the Secretary of the State to be placed on the general election ballot. Thereafter, Deborah Hughes and Cristen Hemmins ("Plaintiffs") filed a complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief in Hinds County Circuit Court against Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, challenging Measure 26 as a violation of Article 15, Section 273(5)(a) of the Mississippi Constitution. On August 10, 2010, Plaintiffs filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings. The Secretary of State replied with a response to that motion. Then, on September 30, 2010, the trial court entered and approved an Agreed Order, allowing Riley and Personhood Mississippi to intervene. In that same order, all parties agreed that this case was "based on questions of law" and "should be resolved by way of judgment on the pleadings." Subsequently, after considering the motion and responses, having heard oral argument, and being otherwise fully advised in these matters, the trial court denied Plaintiffs' motion for judgment on the pleadings, finding that they had not carried their heavy burden in attempting to restrict the citizenry's right to amend the Constitution. Thereafter, the trial court entered an additional order, titled "Final Judgment." The trial court ruled that the denial of Plaintiffs' motion for judgment on the pleadings disposed of the case. Additionally, the trial court ruled that "final judgment is hereby entered in favor of the" Secretary of State and the Intervenors. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded Measure 26 was not ripe for review. Thus, the Court vacated the trial court's final judgment in favor of Intervenors and Secretary Hosemann. The Supreme Court finally dismissed Plaintiffs' complaint without prejudice. View "Hughes v. Hosemann" on Justia Law

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David Waide filed an Initiative with Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, and Hosemann approved it for placement on the November, 2011 general election ballot. Plaintiff Leland Speed filed a complaint against Hosemann in the Hinds County Circuit Court, along with a Motion for Expedited Declaratory and Injunctive Relief, asking the Supreme Court to declare Initiative 31 unconstitutional and to enjoin Hosemann from placing it on the ballot. Speed argued that Initiative 31 "violates Section 273(5)(a) because that section prohibits use of the initiative process for the proposal, modification or repeal' of any portion' of the Constitution's Bill of Rights." Speed argued that Initiative 31 was a "proposal, modification or repeal' of the Bill of Rights . . . and more specifically of its Section 17, which governs taking of private property for a public use." After Hosemann and Waide responded to Speed's pleadings, Speed filed a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, in which he argued that the case "involve[d] a pure issue of law with no material facts in dispute" and asked the court to enter judgment in his favor under Mississippi Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c). The trial judge both denied Speed's motion for judgment on the pleadings and ruled on the merits, finding that Speed's complaint should be dismissed with prejudice and ordering that Hosemann be allowed to proceed in placing Initiative 31 on the ballot. On appeal, Speed asked the Supreme Court to reverse the trial judge, declare that Initiative 31 violates Section 273(5) of the Mississippi Constitution, and "keep Initiative 31 off the November ballot." Upon review, the Supreme Court found that the issue presented in this appeal (the constitutionality of proposed Initiative 31) was not ripe for adjudication by the Court, such that any opinion thereon would be improperly advisory. Accordingly, the Court vacated the trial court's decision and dismissed the case. View "Speed v. Hosemann" on Justia Law