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GREGORY TYRONE JONES v. STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

DECEMBER 04, 1985

GREGORY TYRONE JONES
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI



BEFORE ROY NOBLE LEE, DAN LEE AND PRATHER

DAN LEE, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

Gregory Tyrone Jones was tried and convicted in the First Judicial District of Hinds County, Mississippi, on May 10, 1984, of possession of more than one ounce of marijuana. He was sentenced to serve a term of three years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections and pay a fine of $3,000.00.

From his conviction and sentence, Jones appeals and assigns five errors:

 1. That the lower court erred when it denied his motion to suppress a search warrant;

 2. That the lower court erred when it allowed the state to introduce into evidence five envelopes of marijuana obtained by a search of his vehicle;

 3. That the lower court erred when it permitted the state to introduce evidence regarding those five envelopes of marijuana from W. E. Patterson, criminologist with the Jackson Police Department, because the defendant, pursuant to a motion for discovery, had been furnished a copy of a lab report showing that only eighteen envelopes had been tested and defendant was prepared to defend only on the eighteen envelopes;

 4. That the lower court erred when it allowed appellant's probation officer, Cindy Berry, to testify that appellant made an oral confession without first being advised by Officer Berry that the confession could be used against him; and,

 5. That the verdict of the jury was against the overwhelming weight of the evidence.

 On November 7, 1983, Officers Charles Foreman and Daniel Norton of the Jackson Police Department, secured a warrant authorizing the search of a residence at 2431 Eleanor Street, Jackson, Mississippi. The warrant was issued by Municipal Court Judge P. Hancock and was based on information received from a confidential informant.

 Information obtained from that informant and verified by a utility bill indicated that the residence to be searched was that of Gregory Tyrone Jones. Pursuant to the warrant, the residence was searched and a quantity of marijuana

 discovered. This information was radioed to Officers Seavey and Pitts who had Jones under surveillance at a local night spot. Jones was arrested for possession of marijuana.

 His vehicle was searched and additional marijuana discovered. Subsequent to his arrest, Jones confessed to Officers Foreman and Norton and, sometime later, to his probation officer, Cindy Berry.

 I.

 DID THE LOWER COURT ERR WHEN IT DENIED APPELLANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS SEARCH WARRANT BECAUSE THE AFFIDAVIT TO THE SEARCH WARRANT WAS HEARSAY INFORMATION THAT WAS NOT CORROBORATED BY PERSONAL OBSERVATION OR INDEPENDENT POLICE WORK?

 At the hearing on a Motion to Suppress Search Warrant, Officer Charles Foreman testified to the following: that he had communicated with a confidential informant whom he had known for seven or eight months; that the informant had previously proven to be reliable and had provided information which had led to other arrests and convictions; that the informant had seen an unknown amount of marijuana at 2431 Eleanor Avenue on the afternoon prior to Jones's arrest; that, based only on the information provided by the informer, Officers Norton and Foreman asked for a search warrant from Municipal Court Judge Hancock; and, that the judge issued the warrant based solely on the officers' affidavit and their oral statements. Foreman admitted that no additional police work had been done in order to determine the truth of the informant's statements. Officer Norton testified to virtually the same set of events.

 The standard for issuing a search warrant was announced in Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S. 213, 103 S. Ct. 2317, 76 L.Ed.2d 527 (1983), where the Court stated:

 The task of the issuing magistrate is simply to make a practical, commonsense decision whether, given all the circumstances set forth in the affidavit . . ., including the `veracity' and `basis of knowledge' of persons supplying hearsay information, there is a fair probability that contraband or evidence of a crime will be found in a particular place. And the duty of a reviewing court is simply to ensure that the magistrate had a" substantial basis for . . . conclud(ing)' that probable cause existed. . . . We are

 convinced that this flexible, easily applied standard will better achieve the accommodation of public and private interests that the Fourth Amendment requires than does the approach that has developed from Aquilar and Spinelli. (citations omitted)

 Id. at 238-239, 103 S. Ct. at 2332, 76 L.Ed.2d at 548. This standard was adopted in Mississippi in Lee v. State, 435 So. 2d 674 (Miss. 1983) and has been reiterated in Walker v. state, 473 So. 2d 435 (Miss. 1985); Breckenridge v. State, 472 So. 2d 373 (Miss. 1985); McCommon v. State, 467 So. 2d 940 (Miss. 1985); Jones asserts that it was necessary for the police officers to determine through independant corroboration the accuracy of the informant's information. Based on Gates, Lee and their progeny, that assertion is erroneous. Under the totality of the circumstances, there was probable cause for the issuance of the search warrant. This assignment is without merit.

 II.

 DID THE LOWER COURT ERR WHEN IT ALLOWED THE STATE TO INTRODUCE INTO EVIDENCE FIVE ENVELOPES OF MARIJUANA WHICH WERE FOUND IN APPELLANT'S VEHICLE DURING A SEARCH SUBSEQUENT TO HIS ARREST?

 Officer Ray Pitts testified that he and Officer Seavey "staked out" Cupid's Lounge in order to observe Gregory Jones. After about fifteen minutes, they received a call from Officers Foreman and Norton stating that marijuana had been found at Jones's residence and advising them to arrest him. When the officers approached Jones, he entered his car and attempted to leave. He was placed in custody and his car was searched. A quantity of marijuana was found under the front carpet on the driver's side. Jones asserts that the marijuana obtained during the search of his vehicle should not have been admitted as evidence because he had not been placed under valid arrest.

 Officers Pitts and Seavey arrested Jones without benefit of an arrest warrant; therefore, the first question is whether the arresting officers had sufficient ...


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