MS Supreme Court Hand down 7/29/10

While I ordinarily skip talking about post conviction relief actions on my blog, this one bears discussion.

Rowland v. State. Robert Rowland pled guilty to two counts of Capital Murder and two counts of Armed Robbery that arose from a robbery at the Leflore County Country Club in 1979.  Eight men had gathered to play poker at the club, and three other men, Rowland and his co-defendants Donald Keeton, and Keith Ouzts, broke in with shotguns and forced the men to line up against the wall.  During the course of the robbery, two men, James Campbell and Paul Hughes, were shot and killed.

Rowland and his co-defendants pled guilty to the four charges and was sentenced to two terms of life imprisonment and twenty-four years each for the armed robberies. Rowland filed his PCR in 2007 arguing that his convictions for armed robbery, as they were the underlying felonies in the capital murder indictments, constituted double jeopardy.  The Court of Appeals in a 6-4 decision found that the Rowland’s PCR was time-barred and did not fall under any of the exceptions to the time rules that govern PCRs.  The Supreme Court in a 9-0 decision found that Double Jeopardy was a fundamental right and thus was exempt from the time limit requirements of PCRs and remanded the case back to the Circuit Court for an evidentiary hearing.

Justice Kitchens in a concurring in part, dissenting in part opinion wrote that remanding the case back to the Circuit Court was a “buck-passing exercise by us”.  Justice Kitchens stated that “When a petitioner is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law, this Court has the authority and the duty to grant the petition and render the appropriate judgment.”  As such, he would vacate Rowland’s two armed robbery convictions immediately.

And while not criminal, City of Jackson and Miranda Morton v. Presley deals with a police officer.  The Supreme Court overturned a verdict rendered against the City of Jackson for a car accident in which Officer Morton, while responding to a call, went through an intersection at 5 miles an hour, with lights and sirens going, and struck a pickup driven by Ms. Presley.  Judge Yerger awarded $148, 763.63 in damages to Ms. Presley.  The Supreme Court reversed and rendered the decision stating that the actions of Officer Morton were not reckless and as such, the verdict was against the overwhelming weight of the evidence.

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2 Responses to “MS Supreme Court Hand down 7/29/10”

  1. Nancy Hughes Wood Says:

    My Father, Paul Hughes, was one of the men murdered by this man. They made their plea to avoid the death penalty. We should have pushed for the death penalty. He cant come back to fight this. He never saw his children grow up, much less see his grandchildren, great grandchildren and all over less than $200.00. No justice for the victims but too many rights and loopholes for these murderers.

    • Julie Carter Says:

      Nancy, I agree with you. This particular man pulled the trigger that killed your father, my uncle. To think anyone can intentionally shoot an unarmed man in the back and still be allowed the opportunity to possibly walk free one day is horrid. Our families will spend the rest of our lives doing whatever we have to do to ensure they stay locked up.

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