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Hopson v. Meredith

August 13, 1998

BRYAN D. HOPSON, DECEDENT, BY AND THROUGH HIS NEXT OF KIN, DEREK D. HOPSON
v.
SCOTTY MEREDITH, COUNTY MEDICAL EXAMINER



Before Sullivan, P.j., McRAE And Smith, JJ.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sullivan, Presiding Justice

Hopson v. Meredith, 97-CP-00704-SCT, __ So. 2d __

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 06/11/97

TRIAL JUDGE: HON. HARVEY T. ROSS

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: COAHOMA COUNTY CHANCERY COURT

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - OTHER

DISPOSITION AFFIRMED - 08/13/98

MOTION FOR REHEARING FILED:

MANDATE ISSUED:

¶1. Bryan D. Hopson (hereinafter Bryan) was killed in an automobile accident on June 10, 1997, while riding in the front passenger seat of a car driven by Wyoman "Todd" Reed. Reed was charged with "felony leaving the scene of an accident in which a death was involved." Coahoma County Medical Examiner Scotty Meredith ordered an autopsy on Bryan's body. Derrick D. Hopson, Bryan Hopson's next of kin, (hereinafter Hopson) filed a Petition for Temporary Restraining Order and Other Relief in the Coahoma County Circuit Court to prohibit the autopsy. The case was transferred to the Coahoma County Chancery Court without objection from either party by an order dated June 11, 1997. On June 11, 1997, Chancellor Harvey T. Ross denied the temporary restraining order, finding that the chancery court lacked authority to issue the requested relief. Hopson appeals to this Court, assigning as error the chancery court's finding that it lacked authority to grant Hopson's petition and the unfettered discretion allowed the State Medical Examiner and the County Medical Examiner in ordering an autopsy. We find that the chancery court exercised proper jurisdiction over this case and properly denied Hopson's petition for a temporary restraining order.

STATEMENT OF THE LAW

I.

WHETHER THE CHANCERY COURT "LACKS AUTHORITY" TO PROHIBIT AN AUTOPSY UPON TRANSFER OF THE MATTER FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT WHICH HAS STATUTORY JURISDICTION TO HEAR THE MATTER.

ΒΆ2. Although both parties address this issue as a question of jurisdiction, judge Ross's Order Denying Temporary Restraining Order and Other Relief does not state that the chancery court lacked jurisdiction over the case. Instead, Judge Ross made findings of fact relating to the necessity of an autopsy in the case and concluded "that this Court lacks the authority to issue the relief requested by Petitioner Derek D. Hopson." We find that the chancery court denied the requested relief on the merits and not based upon a lack of subject matter jurisdiction. ...


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