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CRAIG GOGGINS v. STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

JULY 27, 1988

CRAIG GOGGINS
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI



EN BANC.

SULLIVAN, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

On August 29, 1986, a judgment was returned in the

Circuit Court of Pearl River County, where Craig Goggins was tried and found guilty of armed robbery. Goggins was sentenced to twenty (20) years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. He now appeals to this Court assigning the following as error:

 I. That the trial court erred in allowing the district attorney to excuse without proper cause black jurors Melinda Hayes and Herbert R. Lee;

 II. That the trial court erred in not sustaining appellant's motion to suppress the identification of appellant;

 III. That the trial court erred in not sustaining appellant's objection to prosecution witness, Donna Cowart, dramatically leaving the witness stand to view and identify appellant in the courtroom; and

 IV. That the verdict of the jury was against the great weight of the evidence.

 At approximately 9:15 p.m. on March 13, 1985, a black man wearing a hood over his head and a blue handkerchief under his nose entered the JAS Quick Stop Convenience Store in Picayune, Mississippi, armed with a pistol and demanded money from store attendant Donna Cowart. The robber fled with $1,215.76.

 A frontal and profile view of the robber was sketched by a local artist two days later based on Cowart's description. Cowart testified that the drawings were accurate. On April 18, 1985, a photographic lineup was presented to Cowart by Picayune Police Officer Charles Stockstill. Out of six photographs, Cowart identified Goggins as the robber. Coward also identified Goggins in court.

 At trial, Goggins testified that he was at home in Slidell, Louisiana, at the time of the robbery. Five witnesses supported his alibi.

 The jury found Goggins guilty of armed robbery but was unable to fix a penalty. Goggins was sentenced by the trial judge to twenty (20) years in the Mississippi Department of Corrections and he is presently incarcerated.

 I.

 THAT THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ALLOWING THE

 DISTRICT ATTORNEY TO EXCUSE WITHOUT PROPER CAUSE BLACK JURORS MELINDA HAYES AND HERBERT R. LEE.

 This case involves a black defendant and a white victim. Goggins contends that the State improperly used two of its peremptory challenges to systematically exclude blacks from the jury. Goggins first objected to the composition of the special venire, claiming that it did not fairly represent the proportion of black and whites in Pearl River County. The court overruled the motion finding that the jury selection process was conducted correctly; the names were drawn from the jury box in the presence of the defendant and the cards gave no indication of race of the potential juror. Defense counsel conceded that he" had no problem with the way it was done. "

 After defense counsel had exercised his peremptory challenges the following exchange took place:

 MR. McDONALD:

 We would also like the record to show the first jurors were white and the defendant is black and that the defense attorney has given absolutely no reason for striking these first twelve jurors except the only possible reason there could be is racial reasons, and he has systematically continued to strike every white person on the jury.

 MR. COOPER:

 Now, that's not necessarily true. That's a conclusion of yours. MR. McDONALD:

 It's not true? What are the reasons you're striking those jurors, juror by juror? MR. COOPER: I choose to. They're white.

 MR. McDONALD:

 Is that reasonable for you to do that?

 MR. COOPER:

 Sure it's reasonable. I can do that. MR. McDONALD:

 I just want to find out if that's reasonable, because I am going to exercise my challenges like that, too, now that I've got it in the record that he says it's reasonable; and I just wanted to clarify that, Judge.

 The State struck two black jurors, Melinda A. Hayes and Herbert R. Lee, resulting in a jury composed of eleven white jurors and only one black juror. The trial judge required the prosecutor to articulate his reasons for striking the black jurors.

 Regarding Hayes, the prosecutor explained that she would not look at him directly and she had not fully completed the jury form (she had failed to answer how many miles she lived from the courthouse and the names of her father and mother). Regarding Lee, the prosecutor explained that Lee would not look at him and showed an indifferent attitude. When listing his reasons for excluding Hayes the prosecutor also said the following:

 We also, based on the classes in jury selection that were given pursuant to the continuing legal education requirements conducted by the University of Mississippi School of Law that brought in jury selection experts and gave us instructions on groups of people that would generally be favorable to the Defense and favorable to the Prosecution, information for these groups to make a decision on selecting jurors and striking jurors, and during the course of that instruction it was indicated

 that in cases that involved young black women and young black men, they would be in a group that would be more favorable towards the defendant. And so we would like the record ...


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