Curtis Giovanni Flowers v. State of Mississippi – racial bias in jury selection – In On June 21, 2019, the Supreme Court of the United States reversed Flowers’ conviction based on racial bias in jury selection. Flowers v. Mississippi, 139 S. Ct. 2228, 2235 (2019). It remanded the case to the MSSC which also reverses and remands for a new trial.
Jeremy Shane Fogleman v. State of Mississippi – crime of violence enhancement based on facts found by judge – Fogleman was convicted of failing to stop a motor vehicle pursuant to the signal of a law enforcement officer while operating the vehicle in reckless disregard of the safety of persons or property. The judge also found that Fogleman “used physical force, or made a credible attempt or threat of physical force against another person as part of the criminal act.” MCA § 97-3-2(2). Classifying it as a crime of violence made Fogleman ineligible for parole. The COA reversed finding that sect. 97-3-2(2) is unconstitutional insofar as it deems an offense a “crime of violence” based on facts found only by the judge. The MSSCT granted the state’s cert. petition and reverses the COA. “We find the judge’s crime-of-violence designation merely impacted the minimum time Fogleman had to serve before becoming parole eligible. It did nothing to affect Fogleman’s sentence. Thus, no Sixth Amendment violation occurred.”
Gulfport OB-GYN, P.A. v. Dukes, Dukes, Keating & Faneca, P.A. and Je’Nell B. Blum – legal malpractice in drafting an employment contract – In 2008 Gulfport OB-GYN hired the law firm of DDKF to draft an employment agreement for Dr. Donielle Daigle. In 2013, Dr. Daigle quit and started a competing clinic in Gulfport. Dr. Daigle sued Gulfport OB seeking a declaratory judgement that the covenant-not-to-compete was
unenforceable and monetary damages. Gulfport OB counter-claimed against Dr. Daigle for $150,000 in liquidated damages and attorney fees. The chancellor found the covenant not to compete unenforceable because it applied only if Dr. Daigle was fired and not if she voluntarily withdrew. . Gulfport OB-GYN then settled with Dr. Daigle by paying her $425,000. Gulfport OB-GYN then sued the law firm for malpractice in drafting the agreement. The court granted summary judgment to the law firm finding that “there is no genuine issue as to any material fact on the issue of whether Dr. Donielle Daigle or her attorney would have accepted changes to the non-competition provision at issue in this case.” The MSSC affirms.
Candice Rae Shurden Ballard v. Joe Marshall Ballard – custody – Candice and Marshall were married in 2006. They eventually agreed to an ID divorce with the chancellor to decide custody, etc. The court determined both parties were unfit and awarded custody of three minor children to DHS but placed the children with Marshall’s parents. On appeal Candice argues that the chancellor relied on hearsay to establish her “unfitness” and history of family violence. The Court reversed the custody decision because the chancellor failed to apply the Albright factors. On remand the chancellor awarded custody to Marshall. The MSSC affirms.
The Court grants cert in Stephen Virgil McGilberry v. State of Mississippi (the link is to the COA opinion). McGilberry was sentenced to death for the 1994 killing of his mother, stepfather, his half sister and nephew. He was 16 at the time of the crime. He was eventually sentenced to LWOP after the USSC declared the death penalty unconstitutional for minors. In 2012, the Supreme Court held in Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012), that
imposing a mandatory sentence of LWOP on an offender under the age of eighteen violated the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. McGilberry was given a Miller hearing and was resentenced to LWOP. He appealed and the COA reversed finding that McGilberry was entitled to have his sentence decided by a jury. The State filed a cert petition arguing that the requirement of jury sentencing has no application where the death penalty is not an option.