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Ward v. State

February 10, 1998

CLARENCE WARD, APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, APPELLEE



DATE OF JUDGMENT: 12/16/93 TRIAL JUDGE: HON. WILLIAM F. COLEMAN COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: HINDS COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT

TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: C/S POSS COCAINE: SENTENCED TO SERVE A TERM OF 3 YRS IN THE MDOC; DEFENDANT TO PAY A FINE OF $5000.00. THIS CAUSE TO RUN CONSECUTIVE TO RANKIN COUNTY CIRCUIT CASE NO.2909

Before Thomas, P.j., King, And Payne, JJ.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Thomas, P.j., For The Court

THIS OPINION IS NOT DESIGNATED FOR PUBLICATION AND MAY NOT BE CITED, PURSUANT TO M.R.A.P. 35-B

NATURE OF THE CASE: CRIMINAL - FELONY

Clarence Ward appeals his conviction of possession of cocaine raising the following issues as error:

I. THE PROSECUTOR COMMITTED PLAIN AND REVERSIBLE ERROR BY ELICITING IN ITS CASE-IN-CHIEF EVIDENCE OF THE DEFENDANT'S CHARACTER AND INVOLVEMENT IN OTHER CRIMINAL ACTIVITY IN VIOLATION OF THE MISSISSIPPI RULES OF EVIDENCE.

II. THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED PLAIN AND REVERSIBLE ERROR BY ALLOWING OFFICER CALVIN MATTHEWS TO RENDER EXPERT TESTIMONY BEFORE THE TRIAL JURY WITHOUT BEING OFFERED, TENDERED, OR ACCEPTED AS AN EXPERT IN ANY FIELD IN VIOLATION OF RULE 702, MISSISSIPPI RULES OF EVIDENCE.

III. THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED PLAIN AND REVERSIBLE ERROR BY ALLOWING JOHN DIAL TO RENDER AN EXPERT OPINION BEFORE THE TRIAL JURY WITHOUT HIS HAVING BEEN OFFERED, TENDERED, OR ACCEPTED AS AN EXPERT IN ANY FIELD OF EXPERTISE IN VIOLATION OF RULE 702, MISSISSIPPI RULES OF EVIDENCE.

IV. THE PROSECUTOR COMMITTED PLAIN AND REVERSIBLE ERROR DURING CLOSING ARGUMENT BY HIS IMPROPER REMARKS TO THE TRIAL JURY AND AS A RESULT, WARD WAS DENIED A CONSTITUTIONAL AND FUNDAMENTALLY FAIR TRIAL.

V. THE VERDICT OF THE TRIAL JURY IS CONTRARY TO LAW AND AGAINST THE OVERWHELMING WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE PRODUCED AT THE TRIAL. Finding no error, we affirm.

FACTS

On July 8, 1992, Detectives Calvin Matthews and Shirley Williams, members of the Direct Action Response Team, were driving in an unmarked vehicle. They went to an apartment complex off Terry Road in the City of Jackson, Mississippi. The location was well-known to the officers as a high drug trafficking area.

Matthews testified that when they drove up he saw Clarence Ward and Tyrone Jones. Jones, upon seeing the officers, yelled "50," which Matthews testified meant police had arrived, so throw away your contraband and flee the area. Jones fled. Matthews testified that he saw Ward throw white objects behind a window frame with one hand and put his cigarette down with the other hand. After recovering what appeared to be crack cocaine from the window sill, Matthews asked Ward if he was the owner of the "Kool" brand cigarette. Ward denied ownership. After arresting Ward, Matthews found a pack of "Kool" cigarettes in Ward's pocket.

Williams testified that Ward was standing in front of a window when they pulled into the apartment complex. Thereafter, Williams stated Jones yelled "50" and ran and Ward, with his left hand threw some items in the window sill, and with the other hand put out a cigarette. Williams testified that at the police station, as a consequence of his arrest, Ward made a statement to the effect that he was not worried about staying in jail because he knew too many people.

John Dial, whom the Jackson Police Department employs as a criminalist, testified that in his expert opinion the white rocks recovered at the scene were a cocaine base.

Ward did not testify in his defense; however, the defense called two witnesses. Howard Aaron testified that he was at the apartments on Terry Road the day of the arrest because Ward called him to come look at his automobile. While Aaron was talking to Ward, the officers arrived. Aaron stated that he recognized the police because of the patch on the arms of their long sleeved jackets. He testified that Ward was using the restroom when the officers arrived on the scene, so ...


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