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Walls v. Spell

October 08, 1998

PAUL WALLS
v.
LESTER SPELL, COMMISSIONER OF AGRICULTURE & COMMERCE



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

ON MOTION FOR REHEARING

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 02/28/97

TRIAL JUDGE: HON. PAT H. WATTS, JR.

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: JACKSON COUNTY CHANCERY COURT

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - OTHER

DISPOSITION REVERSED AND REMANDED -10/08/98

MOTION FOR REHEARING FILED: 8/04/98

EN BANC.

¶1. The motion for rehearing is granted. The original opinion in this case is withdrawn and this opinion is substituted therefor.

INTRODUCTION

¶2. On May 28, 1996, Dr. Lester Spell, Jr., Commissioner of the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce, Appellee herein, filed a complaint in the Chancery Court of Jackson County, Mississippi, against the Appellant herein, Paul Walls, Sr. In his complaint, Dr. Spell ("State") alleged that Paul Walls ("Walls") was engaged in entomological work in violation of laws of the State of Mississippi. Specifically, Walls did not have a license to spray pesticides in residential homes. *fn1 The court issued a temporary injunction prohibiting Walls from spraying residential homes until a hearing could be held concerning a permanent injunction. Subsequently, the State filed a Petition for Citation of Contempt alleging that Walls was in violation of the temporary injunction. At a full hearing on February 27, 1997, the court found Walls guilty on three (3) counts of criminal contempt and sentenced him to six (6) months in jail to be served consecutively, and a $500.00 fine on each count. Walls appealed to this Court assigning the following as error:

I. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT GRANTING A CONTINUANCE PENDING THE COMPLETION OF THE FEDERAL CRIMINAL MATTER.

II. THE TRIAL JUDGE ERRED IN NOT RECUSING HIMSELF.

III. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR A JURY TRIAL.

IV. THE EVIDENCE FAILED TO PROVE ACTUAL AND KNOWING CRIMINAL CONTEMPT AND INTENT ON THE PART OF THE APPELLANT.

V. THE JUDGMENT OF CRIMINAL CONTEMPT IS CONTRARY TO LAW AND REPRESENTS A VIOLATION OF THE DEFENDANT'S FIFTH AMENDMENT RIGHTS.

¶3. This Court holds that Walls should have been afforded a jury trial. Thus, we reverse and remand his conviction of contempt for proceedings not inconsistent with the following opinion.

STATEMENT OF THE CASE AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

¶4. This action began when the Department of Agriculture filed a complaint against Walls for illegal pesticide spraying. The chancellor issued a preliminary injunction on June 11, 1996, which prohibited Walls from engaging in residential fumigation until a hearing could be held. A hearing on the permanent injunction was set for October 8, 1996.

¶5. Before the hearing was held, the State and Walls, who was represented by counsel, entered into an agreed permanent injunction. The permanent injunction prohibited Walls from engaging in entomological spraying for a fee, from giving advice or prescriptions concerning pest control for a fee, and from applying pesticides in the State of Mississippi, except as allowed under his private applicator's license. On November 12, 1996, the State filed a Petition for Citation of Contempt against Walls alleging that Walls had violated the agreed permanent injunction on six occasions. Subsequently, the State amended the petition to include three counts instead of the original six counts.

ΒΆ6. Walls was represented at the contempt hearing by his current counsel. Walls' new counsel moved for a continuance until the completion of Walls' federal criminal matter. The chancellor refused to allow a continuance pending completion of the federal matter, but did grant Walls a continuance to allow his new attorneys ...


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