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EARL ROY COOPER AND ROY BLANE COOPER v. TERRY R. COOPER

JANUARY 06, 1988

EARL ROY COOPER AND ROY BLANE COOPER
v.
TERRY R. COOPER



BEFORE HAWKINS, P.J., PRATHER AND ZUCCARO, JJ.

HAWKINS, PRESIDING JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

Earl Roy Cooper appeals from a final decree of the chancery court of Montgomery County granting his wife Terry R. Cooper a divorce on the ground of habitual cruel and inhuman treatment, together with ancillary relief of alimony and a lien impressment. The only issue we address on this appeal is whether Mrs. Cooper made a case of habitual cruel and inhuman treatment.

Because Mrs. Cooper failed to offer sufficient evidence to support her claim, we reverse and render judgment for Cooper.

 FACTS

 Mrs. Cooper filed her complaint against Cooper for a divorce in the chancery court of Montgomery County on March 1, 1985. They married November 25, 1982, when Cooper was in the county jail in Winona under a felony sentence. Mrs. Cooper, age 32, had two children by a previous marriage, and Cooper, age 54, had a grown son, Roy Blane Cooper, practicing veterinary medicine in Greenwood.

 Beginning in 1980, they had lived together for approximately two years prior to their marriage. In Cooper's divorce settlement in his first marriage, he had conveyed his realty and business properties to his son. These properties were heavily mortgaged, with the father and son personally liable under the promissory notes, which were renewed periodically.

 Although title to the properties was in the name of the son, Blane, Mrs. Cooper managed the business properties in Winona, and testified she handled hunting leases of rural land, and the closing of a substantial timber sale.

 Mrs. Cooper testified that she made continued efforts to secure Cooper's release from prison, and he was eventually paroled in October, 1984. The couple promptly moved to Texas.

 They returned to Mississippi for a visit in December, 1984, and stopped by Blane Cooper's clinic in Greenwood. According to Mrs. Cooper, she and her husband got into an argument over some dogs they had left with Blane Cooper, that he had given away. This upset her children. She said the argument" escalated, "and she went to her mother's home in Attala County. She telephoned a Winona attorney about her marital difficulty, who apparently advised her to await developments.

 The next morning Mrs. Cooper telephoned an Internal Revenue Agent in Texas named Bill Gibson, who wanted to know where Cooper was. She gave him Cooper's location, and also told him that she might be returning to Mississippi permanently if she and Cooper could not work their marital difficulties out. She testified she later telephoned Gibson to tell him she planned to return to Texas, and Gibson's wife answered the call. The agent's wife told Mrs. Cooper that Gibson was on his way to Mississippi to see her.

 According to Mrs. Cooper, Gibson and two more agents came to Kosciusko, where Gibson informed her that her husband planned to have her murdered.

 She further testified that because of that conversation she gave these agents information they needed to arrest her husband. Thereafter, some Internal Revenue Agents from Jackson came and picked her up, transported her to Memphis, where she stayed for five days, and they then returned to Texas.

 She said that when she got to her Texas apartment, all the jewelry, coins and etchings were missing. She then returned to Memphis, thence to Mississippi.

 Mrs. Cooper gave as statutory grounds for divorce irreconcilable differences, Cooper's sentence to the penitentiary, and habitual cruel and inhuman treatment. No effort was made to substantiate either of the first two statutory causes, however, and they clearly do not apply to this case. In her complaint she also sought the return of her jewelry, alimony, and that the sale of Cooper's properties ...


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