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State v. Davis

March 12, 1998

STATE
v.
DAVIS



Before Prather, C.j., Smith And Waller, JJ.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Prather, Chief Justice

STATE OF MISSISSIPPI v. THADDUS DAVIS a/k/a THADDEUS DAVIS a/k/a THADUS DAVIS

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

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 02/14/96

TRIAL JUDGE: HON. SHIRLEY C. BYERS

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: HON. SHIRLEY C. BYERS

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - POST CONVICTION RELIEF

DISPOSITION REVERSED AND RENDERED 3/12/98

The appellant, Thaddus Davis (a.k.a. Thaddeus or Thadus Davis) pled guilty to armed robbery in 1978, and was sentenced to a fifieen-year prison term. He served from 1978 to 1980, and escaped in 1980. He was reincarcerated in 1990.

At the time Davis was sentenced, the MDOC practice was to apply earned time *fn1 to an armed robbery sentence despite the fact that Miss. Code Ann. § 47-7-3 required persons, convicted of armed robbery and sentenced to more than 10 years in prison, to serve a mandatory term of ten years in prison. In 1981, this administrative policy was changed by the Mississippi Attorney General, in order to bring the MDOC practice into compliance with the statute. See Coleman v. State, 483 So. 2d680, 681 (Miss. 1986).

In 1995, Davis filed a motion to recompute his sentence, and contended that the administrative change in the interpretation of the statute, as applied to his 1978 sentence, constituted an ex post facto law. Davis alleged that he was entitled to have thirty days per month earned time applied to his fifteen-year sentence, which would make him eligible for discharge after serving seven and one-half years. The State argued that Davis was required to serve a mandatory ten-year sentence, and thai Davis was entitled to have thirty days per month earned time applied to the remaining five years of his sentence. That is, the State argued that Davis would not be eligible for discharge until he served twelve and one-half years the mandatory ten-year sentence plus two and one-half years of the remaining five- year portion of the original fifteen-year sentence.

The trial court understood Davis's contention to be that the MDOC policy changed with the 1992 amendment to the earned time statute, and held that the 1992 amendment, as applied to Davis, constituted an ex post facto law. The trial court ordered the State to recompute Davis's sentence in accordance with the law prior to the 1992 amendment. Apparently, the trial court understood this ruling to mean that the application of earned time to Davis 5 sentence would entitle him to discharge eligibility after serving seven and one-half years, and before serving the statutorily required ten-year period. The State appealed.

The trial court's judgment misconstrued the statutory and case law of this State. Davis's ex post facto argument has been squarely and consistently rejected by our case law. See Coleman, 483 So. 2d at 681; Tiller v. State, 440 So. 2d 1001, 1005 (Miss. 1983); Taylor v. Mississippi State Probation and Parole Bd., 365 So. 2d 621,622 (Miss. 1978). See also Milam v. State, 578 So. 2d 272, 273-74 (Miss; 1991); Doctor v. State, 522 So. 2d 229, 230 (Miss. 1988); Hardy v. State, 473 So. 2d 941, 942 (Miss. 1985); Cooper v. State, 439 So. 2d 1277, 1278 (Miss. 1983).

Furthermore, "the interpretation given the statute by the agency chosen to administer it should be accorded deference.... If that interpretation is in error it should be corrected by the legislature." Williams v. Puckett, 624 So. 2d 496, 499 (Miss. 1993). This is true, even when the agency applies a "new interpretation of the statute to one who ...


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