BEFORE DAN LEE, ROBERTSON AND PITTMAN.
DAN LEE, PRESIDING JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:
Today's appeal is from an adverse ruling of the Circuit Court of Covington County, Mississippi, in the May 1986 Term of court. The paternity proceeding filed by Nora Lee Shows against Vincent Powell Thornton sought to establish Thornton as the father of Christopher Stewart Shows, a male child, born to Ms. Shows on September 21, 1984. Upon a trial by jury, a verdict was returned in favor of Ms. Shows, adjudging Thornton to be the father of the child.
Aggrieved by the lower court's final order, Vince Thornton appeals and assigns as error:
I. The Trial Court Unduly Limited the Defendant in Direct Examination of Witnesses Called by the Appellant.
II. The Trial Court Erred in Permitting the Plaintiff to Show the Conduct of Relatives as Evidence of Paternity.
Finding no reversible error, we affirm.
Nora Lee Shows (hereinafter Nora), age 21 at the time of the trial, met Vince Powell Thornton (hereinafter Vince), age 23 at the time of the trial, at her parents' church in Simpson County, Mississippi. They both grew up in Simpson County, their families living only about five miles apart. In July of 1981, Vince began visiting Nora at her parents' home and started" formally "dating her, or taking her out, in November of 1981. Vince continued seeing Nora at her parents' home until he started school at Mississippi State University. Thereafter, the couple commenced having sexual intercourse in March 1982 and continued into December of 1983. Nora got pregnant in December of 1983, having had her last normal menstrual period commencing on December 13,
On the night of February 3, 1984, Nora and Vince went to the Shows home and told Mrs. Sadie Shows, Nora's mother, that Nora was pregnant. Vince asked Mrs. Shows would she like to have him as a son-in-law and said that he would marry Nora. Vince spent the night and the next morning asked Mr. Sidney Shows, Nora's father, if he could marry her. At first Mr. Shows refused permission; however, upon being told by Vince that he would be getting a grandchild as well as a son-in-law, he assented. The parties, having a blood test made, began planning the wedding date.
Several days later, Vince called Mrs. Shows and told her that he desired to postpone the wedding. At a later date, Vince told Mr. and Mrs. Shows that he would not marry Nora at that time. The parties never married.
Nora, thereafter, filed a complaint for adjudication of paternity and order of filiation against Vince. Being a minor aged 19, Nora filed this complaint by her father and next friend, Sidney B. Shows, on August 22, 1984, in the Chancery Court of Washington County, Mississippi, the residence of Vince at the time. The complaint alleged that she was pregnant with a child due to be born on or about September 20, 1984, and that Vince was the father of the unborn child. The complaint prayed for a judgment and order of filiation adjudicating that he was the father and that he be required to pay all reasonable expenses of pregnancy, confinement, education, support, maintenance, attorney's fees and costs, and that he be required to give security. Vince then filed a general denial on October 1, 1984.
On April 3, 1985, Nora obtained leave of court to file an amendment to her complaint. The amendment alleged that the child in question, Christopher Stewart Shows, was born on September 21, 1984. The amended complaint also set forth certain specific expenses incurred, and adopted the prayer of the original complaint by reference.
On November 5, 1985, Vince demanded a jury trial by motion, as well as filed a general denial to the amendment on November 8, 1985. The Chancery Court of Washington County, because of the demand of trial by jury, transferred the cause to the Circuit Court of Covington County, Mississippi, by order dated November 18, 1985.
Vince also filed a cross-complaint in the Chancery Court of Washington County on November 20, 1985, asking for custodial and visitation rights with the child, or alternatively that the care, custody and control of the child be awarded to him, and alleging
that Nora was unfit. Nora then filed an answer and defenses in Chancery Court on December 11, 1985. It contained a general denial of the allegations of the cross-complaint and defenses, alleging that Vince had deserted and abandoned the child and that the cross-complaint had not been filed within the time and in the manner provided by the M.R.C.P. Apparently counsel for the parties did not realize that at the time these latter pleadings were filed in the Chancery Court and that the chancellor had signed the November 18, 1985, order transferring the cause. On December 18, 1985, an agreed order was signed by counsel for the parties, by then Presiding Circuit Judge L. D. Pittman, setting the cause for trial in the Circuit Court of Covington County on May 27, 1986.
This cause came to trial on May 28, 1986, in Collins, Mississippi, Special Judge Robert McFarland presiding. The case was tried, resulting in a jury verdict finding that Vince was the father of Christopher Stewart Shows. A judgment adjudicating paternity wherein Vince was adjudged to be ...