I am Tom Freeland, a lawyer in Oxford, Mississippi. The picture in the header is my law office. I'm on Twitter as NMissC

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Mississippi Supreme Court decisions, 12/17/09

There’s an oddity on this week’s decision list– a cert. grant for a pro se petitioner in Robert Jackson v. State, with the vote to grant–Waller, Carlson, Graves, Dickinson, Lamar, Chandler and Pierce, and to deny– Randolph and Kitchens.  The Court of Appeals opinion is extremely unexceptional– a short unanimous opinion denying Jackson’s effort to seek post-conviction relief, noting that he’d already filed prior post-conviction petitions.  What could possibly explain this grant?  (Obviously, it would help to read Jackson’s petition, but you’d think something would jump out in the Court of Appeals opinion).

Beyond this, there are two decisions:

  • Johnson v. State is relatively routine a criminal case with an opinion by Lamar discussing issues about sentence, ineffectiveness, and whether there was sufficient evidence to convict.
  • Gartrell v. Gartrell is an estate case involving whether the executor of an estate can raise a challenge to the descedent’s adoption of stepchildren to establish they are not heirs.  The executor attempted to argue that the adoption was a fraud on the court because the natural father was not properly notified, although he made an affidavit in the estate he had not objection.  The Mississippi Supreme Court reversed (unanimously, with a Carlson opinion) the chancellor’s allowing the challenge.  The Supreme Court held the executor had no standing to challenge the adoption.  In doing so, the court pretty much limited the bizzarre case of In re Estate of Reid, 825 So. 2d 1 (Miss. 2002) to its facts.   Reid was the case where a law student, Micheal Cupit, struck up a relationship with an elderly woman and got her to deed property to him and ultimately adopt him; the court had held his behavior a fraud on the court.

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