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02/23/95 SHARLET BELTON COLLINS v. CITY HAZLEHURST

February 23, 1995

SHARLET BELTON COLLINS
v.
CITY OF HAZLEHURST, MISSISSIPPI



TRIAL JUDGE: HON. LAMAR PICKARD COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: COPIAH COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT

NATURE OF THE CASE: CRIMINAL - MISDEMEANOR DISPOSITION AFFIRMED - 12/22/97 MOTION FOR REHEARING FILED: MANDATE ISSUED:

Before Dan Lee, C.j., Pittman And Roberts, JJ.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Roberts, Justice, For The Court:

STATEMENT OF THE CASE

¶1. This criminal appeal is brought before this Court from the Circuit Court of Copiah County, Mississippi, by Sharlet Belton Collins (Collins), who was convicted of violating a municipal ordinance of the City of Hazlehurst, Mississippi (City). This ordinance prohibited on- premises beer permit holders from allowing persons under the age of twenty-one (21) years to enter their establishments where beer is consumed.

¶2. The case was commenced on October 22, 1994, when Charles Smith, a police officer for the City filed a criminal affidavit against Collins. This affidavit charged Collins with violating the municipal ordinance. A trial was held in Municipal Court of Hazlehurst, Mississippi. By Order dated December 12, 1994, Collins was found guilty of violating the ordinance. On January 17, 1995, Collins filed her appeal of the decision to the Circuit Court of Copiah County.

¶3. On February 16, 1995, Collins filed her Motion to Dismiss, asserting the ordinance was invalid because it made conduct that is permissible under state law a misdemeanor. The Motion was overruled. On February 17, 1995, a jury trial was had in the Circuit Court of Copiah County, where Collins was found guilty of violating the ordinance.

¶4. At the Conclusion of the City's case-in-chief, Collins moved for a directed verdict. The court overruled the motion. Collins requested a peremptory instruction after all of the testimony, but was refused by the court below. The jury returned a verdict of guilty. On February 23, 1995, the court sentenced Collins to serve thirty days in the county jail, suspended on two years good behavior probation, to pay a fine in the sum of $250 and court costs in the amount of $81. Collins filed a Motion for a New Trial or Judgment of Acquittal on February 27, 1995. The Motion was denied by the trial court on March 3, 1995.

¶5. Aggrieved by the decision of the lower court, Collins filed her appeal to this Court on March 10, 1995. She raises the following issues on appeal:

I. WHETHER THE CITY'S ORDINANCE CONFLICTS WITH A STATE STATUTE, THEREBY MAKING THE ORDINANCE VOID.

II. WHETHER THE CONVICTION OF COLLINS WAS AGAINST THE OVERWHELMING WEIGHT AND SUFFICIENCY OF THE EVIDENCE.

STATEMENT OF THE FACTS

¶6. Collins is the holder of an on-premises retail beer permit that allows the sale of beer by the can to people twenty-one years of age or older. She owns a restaurant and lounge in the City named Club O'Hara. It is worth mentioning that before patrons may enter the Club they are checked with a scanner for weapons. The City has an ordinance that prohibits individuals under twenty-one years of age from being inside a premises licensed to sell beer, where beer is allowed to be consumed. Collins testified that she was the holder of the permit, responsible for making sure the Club was run properly, responsible for hiring the people that check I.D.'s and provide security, and for telling her employees to check a person's I.D. if there was any question about the person.

¶7. On October 22, 1994, a band named "Bones" was playing at the Club. Lakeith Brown, who was eighteen years of age at the time, entered the Club at approximately 8:30 p.m. with his cousin, Antonio Jordan, who was over twenty-one. There was a security guard checking for weapons with a scanner. He was supposed to check for the safety of customers and identification. The security guard used the scanner to check Lakeith for weapons, but did not check his I.D. Lakeith paid $10 for entry into the Club and was not questioned concerning his age.

¶8. The security guards were instructed to check patrons' identification, unless they knew the person entering the Club was over twenty-one. The Club had over one hundred patrons on this particular night. Collins testified that there were signs on the walls of the lobby to inform patrons they must be twenty-one years of age to enter the Club, and they must show identification upon entering. Lakeith stated that he was not paying attention to any signs when he entered the Club.

¶9. Lakeith entered the Club and proceeded to the dance floor. He stayed on the dance floor for about thirty minutes, and then went to the only bathroom in the building. Although Lakeith stated that he only place he saw people consuming beer was the bar, he had to pass through the bar area of the Club to get to the bathroom. As he left the bathroom, Lakeith was pulled to the side by Charles Smith, a police officer for the City of Hazlehurst, and asked to produce his I.D. It was at this time that Officer Smith learned Lakeith was eighteen years of age.

¶10. Officer Smith then charged Collins with violating the ordinance which makes it a misdemeanor to allow anyone under the age of 21 years in a business that has an on-premises retail beer permit regardless of whether the minor is accompanied by a parent or guardian or under other proper supervision. She was found guilty by the lower court, and this appeal followed.

DISCUSSION OF THE ISSUES

I. WHETHER THE CITY'S ORDINANCE CONFLICTS WITH A STATE STATUTE, THEREBY MAKING THE ORDINANCE VOID.

¶11. The main point of Collins' argument on appeal is that the municipal ordinance under which she was convicted is void because it, in effect, nullifies Miss. Code Ann. § 67-3-53(e), by making conduct lawful under the statute illegal under the ordinance. At the end of Prohibition, the Twenty-First Amendment was ratified repealing the Eighteenth Amendment, which had outlawed intoxicating liquors in the United States. The Twenty-First Amendment basically restored rights to states to regulate the manufacture, sale, ...


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