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[T] McWilliams v. State

May 05, 1998

JAMES E. MCWILLIAMS, APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, APPELLEE



Before McMILLIN, P.j., Diaz, King, And Payne, JJ.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Payne, J., For The Court:

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

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 05/03/96

TRIAL JUDGE: HON. RICHARD WAYNE MCKENZIE

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: FORREST COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT

BY: JEFFREY A. KLINGFUSS

DISTRICT ATTORNEY: E. LINDSAY CARTER

NATURE OF THE CASE: CRIMINAL - FELONY

TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: SALE OF CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE: SENTENCED TO SERVE A TERM OF 30 YRS IN THE MDOC, PAY A FINE IN THE AMOUNT OF $1,000 & PAY COSTS OF COURT

James McWilliams was convicted of the sale of cocaine and sentenced to serve thirty years in the Mississippi Department of Corrections and to pay a fine of $1,000. McWilliams had been charged with selling crack cocaine to an officer of the Forrest/Perry County Metro Narcotics Task Force for $20. On appeal he raises the following issues:

I. WHETHER OR NOT THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR WHEN THE PROSECUTION USED FIVE OF THEIR SIX PEREMPTORY STRIKES TO EXCLUDE AFRICAN-AMERICANS FROM THE JURY AND THE TRIAL JUDGE ACCEPTED THE REASONS SET FORTH BY THE PROSECUTION.

II. WHETHER THE SENTENCE IMPOSED ON THE APPELLANT IS DISPROPORTIONATE TO THE CRIME FOR WHICH HE WAS CHARGED.

We find no error and affirm the judgment and sentence of the court.

ANALYSIS

I. WHETHER OR NOT THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR WHEN THE PROSECUTION USED FIVE OF THEIR SIX PEREMPTORY STRIKES TO EXCLUDE AFRICAN-AMERICANS FROM THE JURY AND THE TRIAL JUDGE ACCEPTED THE REASONS SET FORTH BY THE PROSECUTION.

During the jury selection process McWilliams made a motion under Batson v. Kentucky , 476 U.S. 79 (1986), to have the State explain why five of its six peremptory challenges were against African-Americans. The prosecution set out the following reasons for its strikes:

1. Juror 1-5, Mary Lumzy, was struck because she was not attentive and a Lumzy was named in first appearances in court the day before.

2. Juror 1-8, Lillian Jackson, was struck because her name on the jury information sheet was different from the cover sheet and because she was not responsive and did not make eye contact.

3. Juror 2-1, Earnestine Reed, was struck because she did not fill out her form.

4. Juror 2-7, Roy Miller, was struck because he did not give his occupation and hardly completed his form.

5. Juror 2-12, Jerry Rupert, was struck because of his occupation as a detail man at Mississippi Auto Auction and because of his age. The prosecution stated that all people with this occupation were not the type jurors needed in this case.

The court found that the reasons given were not racially motivated and noted that three African- Americans were on the jury panel. A reverse Batson challenge was also made by the State, noting that McWilliams had used all six of his challenges against Caucasians. The court found that the reasons given by McWilliams were race neutral. It was also pointed out ...


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