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CHARLES LANCE HUGHES v. STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

MAY 29, 1985

CHARLES LANCE HUGHES
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI



BEFORE, PATTERSON, C.J.; ROBERTSON AND SULLIVAN, JJ.

ROBERTSON, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

That an accused should be put to trial only for that with which he has been formally charged has long been accepted in our society. The accused is said entitled to reasonable advance notice of the charges he must answer at trial. The jury's attention should not be deflected nor its passions inflamed by evidence of other illegal or otherwise anti-social conduct of the defendant. Against this backdrop we enforce in the courts of this state a rule prohibiting presentations to the jury of any such extraneous evidence.

This appeal arises out of a charge of the sale of marijuana. In addition to the formal charge, the prosecution

 injected into the proceedings the idea that the accused was dealing in marijuana on other occasions and further that he participated in a romantic relationship with a woman contrary to prevailing community mores. Because these extraneous matters infected impermissibly the fairness of the proceedings leadings to the conviction below, we reverse.

 II.

 On the night of June 10, 1981, at the Ponderosa Club in Clarksdale, Mississippi, at approximately 11:15 p.m., state narcotics Agent D.C. Washington purchased just over an ounce of marijuana from Charles Lance Hughes, Defendant below and Appellant here. In Washington's words:

 I heard Lance Hughes advise that the drugs - he did have drugs, but they were outside. At that time, the confidential source and myself and Lance Hughes walked from the entertainment part of the Ponderosa or where they have music and dance, out [the] east door, which would be standing in front of the Ponderosa Club, it would be a door around to the left side of the building. We walked out that door, and we walked to a green and white Dodge van with Yalobusha County license plates on it. Lance Hughes reached under the passenger - opened the door and reached under the passenger side of the seat and brought out a sandwich bag containing a green leafy substance which appeared to be marijuana and which he handed to the confidential source. The marijuana never left my sight. I took the marijuana from the confidential source's hands, and I handed Lance Hughes a Twenty Dollar U.S. Capitol Federal Reserve Note for $20.00 in cash.

 R.89.

 In an indictment filed July 7, 1984, the grand jury of Coahoma County, Mississippi, charged Hughes with the sale of more than one ounce of marijuana in violation of Miss. Code Ann. 41-29-147 (Supp. 1982). At trial the prosecution's case consisted primarily of the testimony of Agent Washington. The

 only other prosecution witness was a forensic scientist whose testimony showed that the green leafy substance Agent Washington had been sold was marijuana.

 Charles Lance Hughes took the stand in his own defense and flatly contradicted Agent Washington. Other defense witnesses supported Hughes by contradicting what Agent Washington said Hughes looked like at the time in question, the type of vehicle he drove, and even his whereabouts.

 After hearing all the evidence and being duly instructed, the jury returned a verdict of guilty.

 III.

 The dispositive assignment of error arises out of the State's subtle but effective effort to try Hughes for offenses other than the charge in the indictment, the sale of more than one ounce of marijuana on June 10, 1981. Specifically, the State put before the jury (a) the fact that after the date in question Hughes stated to Agent Washington that he had some" ...


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