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Dickerson v. State

January 21, 1999

CODY WAYNE DICKERSON
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI



Before Sullivan, P.j., Banks And Roberts, JJ.

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

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 10/16/97

TRIAL JUDGE: HON. KOSTA N. VLAHOS

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: HARRISON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - POST CONVICTION RELIEF AFFIRMED

STATEMENT OF THE CASE

¶1. On February 27, 1996, the Appellant, Cody Wayne Dickerson (hereinafter "Dickerson"), entered a voluntary plea of guilty to sexual battery in the Circuit Court of Harrison County, Mississippi, the Honorable Kosta N. Vlahos presiding. As a result, Dickerson was sentenced on May 29, 1996 to serve 15 years in the Mississippi Department of Corrections with seven (7) years suspended and eight (8) years to serve. Two (2) days later, Dickerson filed a motion for reconsideration of the sentence and requested a hearing. After reserving the issue of jurisdiction, the circuit Judge conducted two (2) post-guilty plea hearings on August 9, 1996 and October 7, 1996. On October 7, 1996, the Judge issued a ruling from the bench re-sentencing Dickerson to 15 years with 10 suspended and five (5) years to serve. However, an order was never entered reflecting this bench ruling.

¶2. A year later, on October 8, 1997, Judge Vlahos declared his earlier bench ruling a nullity, thereby reinstating Dickerson's original May 29, 1996, sentence of 15 years with seven (7) suspended and eight (8) to serve. On October 16, 1997, the Judge entered an order denying Dickerson's motion to enter a correct sentencing order and/or to correct sentencing order. The Judge found that the term of court at which the defendant was originally sentenced had ended and the court was powerless to alter his sentence.

¶3. Aggrieved by the circuit Judge's decision, Dickerson appeals to this Court raising the following issues:

I. DUE TO A CONFLICT AND/OR AMBIGUITY BETWEEN THE MISSISSIPPI STATUTES, THE MISSISSIPPI RULES OF COURT AND THE APPLICABLE CASE LAW, THE LENITY RULE SHOULD BE APPLIED.

II. DICKERSON IS ENTITLED TO RELIEF AS HE ENDEAVORED TO OBTAIN RELIEF FROM A FINAL JUDGMENT BEFORE THE EXPIRATION OF 10 DAYS.

III. THE CIRCUIT JUDGE ERRONEOUSLY FAILED TO ENTER A NEW SENTENCING ORDER REFLECTING HIS BENCH RULING WHICH LESSENED DICKERSON'S SENTENCE.

IV. PROCEDURAL RULES SHOULD BE DISREGARDED WHERE SUCH IS NECESSARY TO AVOID A MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE.

¶4. Judge Vlahos' original sentencing order denying Dickerson's motion for reconsideration of sentence was proper. Therefore, the decision of the court below is affirmed.

STATEMENT OF FACTS

¶5. During the February 1996 Term of the Circuit Court of Harrison County, on February 27, 1996, Cody Wayne Dickerson, a seventeen-year- old, single, white male and resident of Biloxi , Mississippi, waived indictment and entered a voluntary plea of guilty to sexual battery. Dickerson admitted to having participated in some manner of oral sex with a six-year-old boy in Biloxi. Sentencing was deferred until a pre- sentence report could be compiled by the Mississippi Department of Corrections. That report was filed on April 19, 1996.

¶6. Approximately three (3) months following Dickerson's guilty plea, on May 29, 1996, Judge Vlahos entered a final sentencing order which read in relevant part:

"Ordered that the defendant is hereby sentenced to Fifteen (15) Years, suspend Seven (7) Years, leaving Eight (8) Years to serve in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections in accordance with Section 47-7-3 (b) of the Mississippi Code of ...


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