DATE OF JUDGMENT: 04/15/96 TRIAL JUDGE: HON. ROBERT LEWIS GIBBS COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: HINDS COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT
TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: C/S POSS COCAINE W/I (HABITUAL OFFENDER):SENTENCED TO SERVE A TERM OF 30 YRS IN THE CUSTODY OF THE MDOC, WITHOUT PAROLE, PROBATION REDUCTION OR SUSPENSION OF SENTENCE
Before Mcmillin, P.j., King And Payne, JJ.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: King, 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
This is an appeal from the Circuit Court of Hinds County, Mississippi, where Joseph Earl Daniels was convicted of the crime of possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute, and sentenced to thirty years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Daniels was sentenced as an habitual drug offender, pursuant to Miss. Code Ann. §§41-29-147 and 99-19-81 (Supp. 1994). Daniels appeals his conviction on two grounds:
I. THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED PLAIN AND REVERSIBLE ERROR BYALLOWING DETECTIVE ALVALINE BAGGETT TO RENDER EXPERT TESTIMONYBEFORE THE TRIAL JURY WITHOUT BEING OFFERED, TENDERED ORACCEPTED AS AN EXPERT IN ANY FIELD IN VIOLATION OF RULE 702,MISSISSIPPI RULES OF EVIDENCE.
II. THE VERDICT OF THE TRIAL JURY AND THE SENTENCE IMPOSED BYTHE COURT IS CONTRARY TO THE PRINCIPLES OF LAW AND AGAINSTTHE OVERWHELMING WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE PRODUCED AT THETRIAL.
Detectives Alvaline Baggett and Preston Carter were part of the surveillance team of the Jackson Police Department's Narcotics Division. On November 1, 1994, the surveillance team began its stakeout of an apartment complex located at 1305 Cleveland Avenue, Jackson, Mississippi. The complex, directly across the street from the campus of Jackson State University, was where Detective Baggett was positioned. Detective Baggett was to watch Apartment A, which had been determined to be a place where drugs were sold, for any drug buying activity. The detectives were not looking for any particular individual, but rather were there to watch an area suspected of being a place to buy drugs. Their duty was to observe parties buying and selling drugs and then arrest them. For efficiency, Detective Carter was located in the vicinity of the complex where Baggett could radio him with information on any suspected drug buyers that she saw leave the complex. It was later determined that the occupants of Apartment A were Joseph Daniels and Stephanie Chaffee.
Baggett witnessed several people drive up and enter the apartment only to leave a few minutes later. She described this procedure as being a "drive up" or a "drive by" drug buy. She did not see any transactions take place, but described the activities surrounding Apartment A in the complex. The people in and around the apartment were under surveillance, as well as those persons who drove up to the apartment. Baggett testified to observing Joseph Daniels and his brother, Robert Jones, enter and leave the apartment several times, and talk with several people who drove up to the apartment.
Baggett at trial described one of the transactions as follows: A blue Ford pick-up truck pulled into the complex. Jones spoke with the two occupants in the parking lot. Jones then yelled to Daniels, who was inside the apartment. Daniels yelled for the passenger to come inside the apartment. The passenger of the vehicle entered the apartment, and shortly thereafter, Daniels emerged from the apartment and proceeded to a nearby stairwell. Daniels removed something from under the stairwell and returned to the apartment. A few minutes later, the passenger and Daniels emerged from the apartment. The passenger appeared to have something clutched in his fist, while Daniels was counting money in his hands. The pick-up truck then left. Detective Carter pulled the truck over after it left the complex. Daniels placed the item back under the stairwell and returned to the apartment. The substance found under the stairwell was tested and determined to be cocaine based.
I. THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED PLAIN AND REVERSIBLE ERROR BYALLOWING DETECTIVE ALVALINE BAGGETT TO RENDER EXPERTTESTIMONY BEFORE THE TRIAL JURY WITHOUT BEING OFFERED,TENDERED OR ACCEPTED AS AN EXPERT IN ANY FIELD IN VIOLATION OFRULE 702, MISSISSIPPI RULES OF EVIDENCE.
Daniels argues that the testimony of Detective Alvaline Baggett was expert testimony under Rule 702 of the Mississippi Rules of Evidence. Daniels argues that Baggett's testimony was precluded as a lay because it was based upon her experience and training as a police officer. Daniels specifically claims that because Baggett's opinion was formulated based upon her training and specialized education in undercover narcotics work, she should have been tendered as an expert witness under Rule 702 of the Mississippi Rules of Evidence. This Court agrees that any response sought ...