Court of Appeals 1/11/11


A very strange case.  Lenard was convicted of felony child deprivation.  It sounds horrible.  The facts are confusing as to what, if any, crime she committed.  On October 26, 2007 Lenard served as a fill-in for Stephanie Havens at David Walker’s law office in Batesville.  She asked Shannon Caine, her friend and former boyfriend, to babysit her son Aaron while she was at work.  Late in the day, Caine called Lenard to tell her that Aaron had been burned by hot water.  He said he had been running a bath for Aaron when the phone rang and he got distracted and Aaron had gotten in the tub and burned himself.  Caine brought the baby to Lenard where she comforted him.  Shannon’s mother testified that she saw the baby’s neck and it was red and he was fussy.  The next day, Oct. 28, Mrs. Caine saw the child and he was playing normally with his brother.  An investigator at Walker’s law firm testified that he saw the child and during the time period and he appeared to be playful and not in real pain.

Other witnesses then testified that they say the boy and between Oct. 27 and Oct 29 and his back appeared sunburned but the boy appeared to be ok.  Ms. Havens testified that she saw Aaron’s back and it appeared to be sunburned and she suggested that some salve be put on the boy’s back.  Lenard put something called Burn Gel Plus on Aaron’s back on Oct. 30 and the following morning Lenard said that the baby’s back appeared different.  Lenard brought the child to work and there others examined him and his back appeared to be severely burned, it had blistered, and then Lenard took Aaron to Tri-Lakes Medical Center in Oxford.  There the police were called and the child was taken to the burn center at Le Bonheur Children’s hospital in Memphis.  Lenard and Caine were subsequently indicted for felony child deprivation.  During the trial three experts testified, a child abuse specialist, a treating doctor and a pharmacist.  The doctor stated that the skin would begin to blister in one to three days.  The pharmacist testified that the gel caused a chemical burn that aggravated the injury and contributed to the damage in the photographs.  The jury convicted her.

The Court of Appeals reversed the conviction based on the trial court’s refusal to grant the defense’s proposed instructions as to culpable negligence and “mistake-of-fact”. I can’t seem to understand what crime was committed.  If the testimony showed that the child was ok with a sunburned back, and after applying the gel three days later the blisters appeared, again after the gel is applied,  and Lenard took the child to the hospital the same day, what deprivation was there?  If a child is taken to the doctor when a problem appears, how can that be deprivation?


I don’t usually write about PCR’s but this one contains some scary facts.  For lawyers.  Sellers was convicted of aggravated assault.  He hired Kevin Camp to defend him in the trial.  In the contract between Sellers and Camp, Camp clearly points out that the fee does not include any appeal to a higher court.  The Court of Appeals held that a criminal trial lawyer’s obligation to file a client’s appeal is part of their obligation as trial counsel.  It remains viable until the court gives the trial counsel leave to withdraw.  I don’t know if that means it is the trial counsel’s duty to perfect an appeal, should the client wish one, or if that means that a trial counsel has to perfect an appeal and then file the briefs and carry the appeal to its conclusion.  I hope it is not the latter.  To basically interfere with a contract, and have the appellate courts mandate that regardless of the agreement between two parties, a lawyer must do work for free, if necessary, seems to be unjust.  If a lawyer’s duty is to handle an appeal through completion, does it terminate when the Court of Appeals rules?  Does a lawyer then have to file a motion for reconsideration?  A petition for writ of certiorari to the Mississippi Supreme Court?  The U.S. Supreme Court?  Where does the duty end?  If the Court of Appeals means that a lawyer must perfect an appeal, that I agree with.  I will be curious to see what, if anything, is written further about this.


One Response to “Court of Appeals 1/11/11”

  1. […] posted here: Court of Appeals 1/11/11 « Mississippi Criminal Law This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged appeals, counsel-leave, court, court-gives, […]

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