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James v. State

January 21, 1999

WILLIE LEE JAMES A/K/A CHIP
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI



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

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

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 11/10/97

TRIAL JUDGE: HON. ELZY J. SMITH, JR.

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: COAHOMA COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - POST CONVICTION

AFFIRMED

¶1. James challenges the validity of his conviction under Miss. Code Ann. § 97-37-5, which prohibits convicted felons from possessing firearms. He questions the constitutionality of Miss. Code Ann. § 97-37-5. We conclude that Miss. Code Ann. § 97-37-5 is constitutional, and affirm his conviction and sentence accordingly.

I.

¶2. On November 6, 1996, officers responded to a burglary call at the home of Latrenda James. On arrival, they encountered Willie James standing in the doorway with a shotgun under his chin and his thumb on the trigger. James proceeded to shoot himself in the abdomen after threatening suicide. James, who in his brief to this Court acknowledges the fact that he is a convicted felon, was subsequently indicted on December 9, 1996 for the crimes of burglary of a dwelling and for violation of Miss. Code Ann. § 97-37-5, which prohibits possession of a firearm after conviction of a felony, as an habitual offender under Miss. Code Ann. § 99-19-81. The burglary charge was dismissed by entry of nolle prosequi.

¶3. The trial court rejected his constitutional challenge to the weapon charge and James was found guilty on the charge of possession of a firearm after conviction of a felony. He was thereafter sentenced to serve a term of three (3) years imprisonment in the Mississippi Department of Corrections, without possibility of probation or parole. James now appeals to this Court for relief.

II.

a.

¶4. The standard for reviewing the constitutionality of a statute is well-settled in that this Court will strike down a statute on constitutional grounds only where it appears beyond all reasonable doubt that such statute violates the Constitution. State v. Jones, No. 97-CA-00937-SCT, 1998 WL 350904, at *2 (Miss. July 2, 1998) (citing Wells v. Panola County Bd. of Educ., 645 So. 2d 883, 888 (Miss. 1994)). Statutes are clothed with a heavy presumption of constitutional validity, and the burden is on the party challenging the constitutionality of the statute to carry his case beyond a reasonable doubt before this Court has ...


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