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.


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 [...]

Michelle Byrom news: Mississippi Supreme Court denies motion to set execution date

The Mississippi Supreme Court this afternoon denied the state’s motion to set an execution date but took no further action.

The order, that the state’s motion to set an execution was “not well taken and should be denied”, was unanimous, joined by all justices, and was signed by Justice Coleman.  Here it is.

Still [...]

Michelle Byrom: What kind of representation did she have, Part 4: The Context for Michelle Byrom’s Ineffectiveness Claim

After Michelle Byrom lost her direct appeal, the next stage of her case was handled by the Office of Post-Conviction counsel.  Their job was to investigate possible claims that her conviction or death sentence was improper.  The most important claim they developed was that Byrom’s original lawyers had been ineffective in investigating and trying [...]

Michelle Byrom–What kind of representation did she have? Part 3: Every kind of waiver you can imagine

With all due respect to Byrom’s counsel, whose intentions were no doubt admirable, the brief that was filed on her behalf falls below what I consider professionally acceptable. The recurring failure of Byrom’s counsel to adequately brief issues is a factor I have considered in concluding that Byrom’s counsels’ performance was deficient. Throughout [...]

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 [...]

This Week at the Mississippi Supreme Court

Another quiet week at the Mississippi Supreme Court.

Remember the discussion a while back about the demise of the presumption that a child born during a marriage was the child of the husband?  Today, the Supreme Court, following statute, held that a “father” who signed a birth certificate and an order adjudicating child support [...]

Today at the Mississippi Supreme Court

I have read it twice, and read both opinions in dissent. The majority opinion of this case seems to be holding that, because the defendant had the burden of proof on a defense, the trial court erred in granting a defense directed verdict even though the only evidence supported the defense. The majority opinion [...]

The most interesting thing in this week’s Mississippi Supreme Court decisions list…

… is the name “Sianquiz” on one of the orders.  Beyond that, there’s a pro se divorce appeal, about which the most profound question is– Why wasn’t this assigned to the Court of Appeals, and there’s a criminal case in which the issues were either waived or are going to await a post-conviction claim of ineffectiveness. [...]

From this weeks Mississippi Supreme Court decisions list

Anthony Thomas won a ruling that Count 2 of his indictment failed to charge a crime and that conviction was tossed.  The conviction under Count 1 remained standing.

How hard is it going to be for Thomas’s lawyers to explain to him, “We won your case!” and “You’re still sentenced to life without parole!” [...]