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Ottawa Carter v. State

September 17, 1998

OTTAWA CARTER
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, MISSISSIPPI STATE PERSONNEL BOARD, AND JOHN T. HALTOM, WILLIAM H. SMITH, III, JOHN W. WHITTEN, III (OR THEIR SUCCESSORS IN OFFICE) IN THEIR OFFICIAL CAPACITIES



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

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Banks, Justice

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 05/05/97

TRIAL JUDGE: HON. W. SWAN YERGER

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: HINDS COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - STATE BOARDS AND AGENCIES

DISPOSITION AFFIRMED - 9/17/98

MOTION FOR REHEARING FILED: MANDATE

ISSUED:

¶1. This appeal questions whether the trial court properly dismissed, with prejudice, appellant's Complaint for Declaratory Relief for failure to comply with the statute of limitations governing appeals to the Mississippi Employee Appeals Board. We conclude that the court did not err in dismissing the complaint as time-barred and affirm the dismissal.

I.

¶2. Plaintiff/Appellant Ottawa Carter was employed by the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) as a correctional officer from approximately 1973 until sometime in 1982. Carter's employment was terminated in 1982 after he was indicted for murder and held without bond in the Quitman County Jail. *fn1 Carter did not appeal this termination. Carter was eventually convicted, but his conviction was reversed and rendered on appeal to the Mississippi Supreme Court and he was discharged. See Carter v. State, 441 So. 2d 112 (Miss. 1983). After his conviction was overturned, Carter applied for redeployment with MDOC.

¶3. In 1981, the Mississippi Legislature had passed the Law Enforcement Training Act. Miss. Code Ann. §§ 45-6-1 et. seq. (1993). This act established training and certification requirements for law enforcement officials. Miss. Code Ann. § 45-6-11 (1993). Pursuant to its "grandfather" clause, the act specifically exempts from its requirements those officers serving permanent appointments on the date that certain provisions of the act became effective, July 1, 1981. Miss. Code Ann. § 45-6-11(1) (1993).

¶4. In December of 1983, Carter was rehired by MDOC. Rather than being "grandfathered" in under the exemption provisions of the act, Carter was rehired as a probationary employee and was required to attend a law enforcement officer's training program. Carter failed to meet the minimum standards of the training academy and was subsequently terminated by MDOC.

ΒΆ5. Carter appealed this termination to the Mississippi Employee Appeals Board. On March 5, 1985, the hearing officer dismissed Carter's appeal for lack of jurisdiction. On September 11, 1985, the entire Appeals Board entered an en banc order affirming the decision of the hearing officer. The Board based its decision on two grounds. First, the Board remarked that the grandfather provisions of the act did not apply to Carter because he was not employed on July 1, 1981, the date the act became effective. Second, the Board observed that "normal re-employment practices of the State of Mississippi are such that a period of time ...


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