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

Missing Posts: If you have a link to a post that's not here or are looking for posts from Summer of 2010, check this page.


Gov. Bryant signs bill protecting peyote eaters and rejecting Scalia opinion to the contrary

In 1990, the United States Supreme Court decided Employment Division v. Smith.  In that case, individuals were denied unemployment benefits because they were fired for eating peyote.  In an opinion by conservative justice Antonin Scalia, the United States Supreme Court held: Of course you can deny unemployment benefits to people fired for eating peyote.

While [...]

Michelle Byrom: The Attorney General pleads, “Tell me why!”

The Attorney General responded to Tuesday’s order reversing Michelle Byrom’s conviction by noting that it is unprecedented since the re-imposition for the death penalty for a defendant to be allowed to win so resoundingly and so Court must explain itself.

Or something like that.

The motion makes a statement it ends with a question [...]

Observation about Estate Cases

Over the years, I’ve seen several estate cases where some family members were claiming the deceased had a lock box with hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash in it, and even were willing to swear under oath to its existence.

But I’ve never seen one with a shred of actual tangible evidence of [...]

Michelle Byrom–What kind of representation did she have? Part 2: How closely decided were the cases?

Michelle Byrom had a direct appeal, a post conviction appeal, a decision by a federal judge on habeas, and a decision by the Fifth Circuit on habeas.  She filed certiorari petitions in the United States Supreme Court.

You will frequently see proponents of death sentences count up the judges involved in the process and [...]

Michelle Byrom–What kind of representation did she have? Part 1: They pretty much did nothing

I’ve been thinking and reading about the Michelle Byrom case, and my reaction is complicated.  The evidence of her innocence is, from a lawyer’s perspective, equivocal, about which I will post more later.  But the evidence of whether she had due process– a fair trial– is absolutely clear.  Her lawyers were grossly incompetent, and [...]

Sign posted so you don’t show up at the courthouse in Houston in the wrong attire

Just trying to prevent a possible fashion faux pas.

And, also, there’s this, to help prevent a more disgusting sort of faux pas.

The halls of the courthouse in Houston are chock-full of advice and [...]

Only a lawyer (well, a judge) would contend something was both “peaceful” and “hostile.”

Recall the elements for adverse possession.  There must be use:

(1) under claim of ownership; (2) actual or hostile; (3) open, notorious, and visible; (4) exclusive; (5) peaceful; and (6) continuous and uninterrupted for ten years.

Rice v. Pritchard, 611 So.2d 869, 871 (Miss.1992).

Not to mention notorious.

Notice to the World. But of What?

This is my favorite entry, ever, in a land records index, even better than those entries in 19th Century handwriting that looks like they were written in very artfully arranged but faint human hairs.

Yes, that’s right:  Three entries for “Illegible Name.”

Personally, I’ve never scanned an index for entries for “Illegible Name.” [...]

Anachronisms that would not be missed if they disappeared

The calling of the criminal docket in Mississippi circuit court.

Just waited through an exceptionally long one, and am still waiting for something to actually happen.  In my experience, the only good that has ever come out of one of these things was hearing an amusing name.


The Suspect Makes Clear He Is Knowingly Waiving His Rights.

From an actual interview.

Investigator:  Well, you know before I ask any questions, I have to advice you of your rights.

Suspect:  Yeah.  I got the right to remain silent.  Got the right to have an attorney.

Investigator:  Ok, but I have to read it out to you, okay?

Later, after the rights were [...]