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WILLIAM ALLEN HARRISON AND HELEN HARRISON v. STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

NOVEMBER 25, 1987

WILLIAM ALLEN HARRISON AND HELEN HARRISON
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI



BEFORE ROY NOBLE LEE, ROBERTSON and GRIFFIN

ROY NOBLE LEE, CHIEF JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

Helen Harrison and William Allen Harrison, mother and son, were jointly indicted in the Circuit Court of the Second Judicial District of Jones County, for the sale of cocaine. Following trial, the jury found both defendants guilty as charged and the trial judge sentenced Helen to eight (8) years imprisonment and William to twelve (12) years imprisonment and a $25,000 fine. They assign five (5) errors

in the trial below. Both have been granted bond pending appeal.

 On September 9, 1983, agents of the Laurel Police Department, Jones County Narc unit and Miss. Narc Bureau went to the Laurel home of the appellants. Agent Dwight O'Neal was wired with a radio transmitter from which the conversations between the Harrisons and him were monitored. He went into the Harrisons' driveway, knocked on the door, and Helen answered. He told her he wanted to buy three (3) grams of cocaine. She asked him to wait while her son "Moon Pie" William packaged the cocaine.

 O'Neal remained on the front porch during the entire transaction. He looked through the window and saw William sitting at a table with a white, powdery substance, some plastic sandwich bags and a set of scales, and observed him weigh some of the substance. Helen asked to borrow O'Neal's cigarette lighter in order to heat-seal the bags. She then delivered to O'Neal two bags of the white, powdery substance, for which O'Neal paid her four hundred dollars ($400.00). Laboratory analysis confirmed it to be cocaine.

 Three other narcotics officers and a forensic scientist from the Mississippi Crime Laboratory testified for the State. The appellants rested without offering any evidence.

 I.

 APPELLANT WILLIAM HARRISON WAS DENIED COUNSEL OF HIS CHOICE GUARANTEED BY THE STATE AND FEDERAL CONSTITUTIONS AND DEPRIVED OF DUE PROCESS OF LAW BY THE REFUSAL OF THE TRIAL COURT TO ALLOW PRIVATELY-RETAINED COUNSEL TO APPEAR FOR HIM.

 Appellant contends he was denied counsel of choice. On May 20, 1985, J. Ronald Parrish was appointed by the court to defend the appellants after an indigency hearing. The appellant appeared pleased with the appointment. However, on September 19, 1985, the day of trial, Attorney Sebastian Moore appeared in court as retained counsel for appellant, unknown to Attorney Parrish or the court, and stated that appellant had given him a check for compensation, although he had not presented it to the bank.

 The lower court told Attorney Moore that he could not be substituted as counsel until appellant first paid to the county the sum of five hundred dollars ($500.00) already expended in preparation for appellant's defense. Appellant replied that he could not pay $500.00 at that moment, but could, perhaps, have the money by the following week. With

 reference to repayment of the $500.00 expended by the county for an appointed attorney, Attorney Moore said: ". . . But I think that is inherently fair, and it is something that should be done."

 At the time of making his appearance on September 19, 1985, the date the case had been set for trial, Attorney Moore filed an affidavit for continuance.

 During the proceedings with reference to discussion of obtaining different counsel, the judge ruled upon the affidavit for continuance with the following language:

 I will also tell you before you get started talking with him [Harrison] about repaying the county that this case will not be continued. It has been dragging along here now long enough ...


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