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The circuit court exceeded its jurisdiction in sua sponte dismissing the indictment charging Respondent with the felony offense of threatening to commit a terrorist act. A Brooke County grand jury returned a single count indictment charging that Defendant committed the felony offense of threats to commit a terroristic act. Although defense counsel did not file a motion to dismiss the indictment, the circuit court entered an order, sua sponte, dismissing the indictment with prejudice. The State filed a petition for a writ of prohibition seeking to prohibit enforcement of the circuit court’s order. The Supreme Court concluded that relief in prohibition was warranted and, therefore, prohibited enforcement of the order dismissing the indictment, holding that the circuit court’s action deprived the State of its right to prosecute a criminal case or deprived the State of a valid conviction. View "State ex rel. State v. Honorable Ronald E. Wilson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted in part and denied in part a petition for a writ of prohibition filed by the State seeking to have the court prohibit enforcement of an order of the circuit court that allowed Respondent to testify at his criminal trial about the sexual history of his adolescent victim, M.Y. Respondent was indicted on several counts of sexual assault and sexual abuse. Respondent filed two motions seeking to introduce evidence of M.Y.’s sexual history. The trial court granted the motions. The Supreme Court (1) prohibited enforcement of that part of the circuit court’s order allowing Respondent to introduce evidence that M.Y. accused another man of sexual assault when she was eleven years old, holding that the evidence Respondent sought to introduce is not relevant; but (2) denied the State’s request to prohibit enforcement of that part of the circuit court’s order permitting Respondent to cross-examine M.Y. about whether she told him she had sex with anyone else during the seventy-two hour period prior to his purchase of the Plan B pill, holding that the State sought to introduce inadmissible evidence and that Respondent should be permitted to rebut that evidence with inadmissible evidence as authorized by the circuit court. View "State ex rel. Harvey v. Honorable John C. Yoder" on Justia Law

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Terry Pitchford was convicted of capital murder in February 2006 and sentenced to death. The Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed his conviction and sentence on direct appeal. Pitchford thereafter filed a motion for leave to file a petition for post-conviction relief (PCR), arguing, inter alia, he had not received a competency hearing in violation of Rule 9.06 of the Uniform Rules of Circuit and County Court Practice. The Supreme Court granted Pitchford’s motion in part and ordered the trial court to conduct a retrospective competency hearing. Before the hearing was conducted, a majority of the Supreme Court held that retrospective competency hearings did not satisfy the purpose of Rule 9.06. Despite this ruling, Pitchford’s retrospective competency hearing took place in May 2015. The trial court found that Pitchford was competent to stand trial in February 2006 and denied Pitchford’s PCR motion. Pitchford appealed, arguing the retrospective competency hearing was: (1) an inadequate remedy for purposes of Rule 9.06; and (2) the State’s experts did not apply the proper standard for competency to stand trial. Finding no merit to these claims, the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court denying the PCR petition. View "Pitchford v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Kendall Martin was convicted of possession of more than one kilogram of marijuana with intent to distribute. He was sentenced as a subsequent drug offender and as a nonviolent habitual offender to sixty years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections without the possibility of parole. On appeal, Martin argued that the trial court erred by admitting the evidence because the initial traffic stop was not based on probable cause or reasonable suspicion, and the stop was unreasonably extended in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights. Martin also argues that the State failed to prove that he was a habitual offender under Mississippi Code Section 99-19-81, and that the trial court erred in sentencing him as such. Finding no reversible error, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed Martin’s conviction and sentence. View "Martin v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Defendant was sentenced to eight months in prison for his conviction of violating the terms of his release from custody. Defendant had an ankle monitor and was not allowed to leave the county without permission. The GPS on his ankle monitor showed that defendant repeatedly left the county and went to other counties and states without asking for or receiving permission. In the published portion of the opinion, the Court of Appeal found that the trial court properly admitted a report about the GPS signals sent by defendant's ankle monitor that showed defendant left the county at certain dates and times. View "People v. Rodriguez" on Justia Law

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Defendant pleaded guilty to felony possession of a controlled substance and was initially placed on deferred entry of judgment for 24 months. Six years and 22 appearances later, the trial court terminated defendant's probation and ordered him to serve 120 days in jail. After defendant failed to appear, and following his arrest, the trial court then determined that it lacked jurisdiction to order defendant to serve the sentence. The Court of Appeal reversed and remanded to the trial court with directions to reinstate and execute the 120-day jail sentence. The court held that the termination of probation did not affect the trial court's power to enforce its lawful orders. In this case, the sentence was not imposed as a term of probation, and the trial court was not asked to adjudge him to be in violation of probation or to create or modify a probation term. The trial court was only asked to enforce a prior lawful sentencing order. Furthermore, defendant waived the right to object to the trial court's enforcement of the 120-day jail term given that he requested that the sentence be stayed and then failed to appear as scheduled. View "People v. Hahn" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant’s appeal from the circuit court’s denial of his pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus. In his habeas petition, Appellant argued that he should be permitted to withdraw his guilty plea because the State did not adhere to the terms of the negotiated plea agreement and because, when he entered his plea, he did not agree to serve seventy percent of his sentence before becoming eligible for parole. In other words, while Appellant admitted that the original judgment and sentence were valid, Appellant argued that the State’s failure to abide by the terms of the plea agreement rendered the judgment void. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that Appellant failed to state a ground for the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus. View "Taylor v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court denying Appellant’s pro se petition for leave to proceed in forma pauperis in a civil matter. Appellant, an inmate, first sought release of certain documents from his criminal file and the confirmation by the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory of the existence of certain evidence. Appellant’s request was denied. Thereafter, Appellant sought to proceed as a pauper so that he could file a pro se petition for writ of mandamus to obtain the evidence. The circuit court denied the petition. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding that the circuit court’s denial of Appellant’s petition to proceed in forma pauperis was clearly erroneous given Appellant’s indigency status and his petition sufficiently stating a colorable cause of action. View "Penn v. Gallagher" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court treated Petitioner’s pro se motion for belated appeal and rule on clerk as a motion for belated appeal under Ark. R. App. P-Crim. 2(e), rather than as a motion for rule on clerk, and denied the petition. In his motion, Petitioner asked that he be permitted to proceed with an appeal of a circuit court order denying his petition and amended petition for postconviction relief pursuant to Ark. R. Crim. P. 37.1. Because Petitioner failed to establish good cause for his delay in acting in this matter, the Supreme Court denied the motion. View "Matar v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant’s appeal from a pre-plea denial of a motion for continuance. Appellant, who was represented by a public defender, was sentenced to life in prison following a plea of guilty to plea. Before the plea agreement proceedings began, Appellant requested a continuance so that he could hire private counsel. The circuit court denied the request. Appellant’s sole argument on appeal was that the circuit court wrongly denied him his constitutional right to choice of counsel when it denied his continuance. The Supreme Court dismissed this appeal for lack of jurisdiction because the appeal did not fall within the limited circumstances under which the court may hear appeals following guilty pleas. View "Burns v. State" on Justia Law