Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Baldwin v. State

February 11, 1999

CLINT BALDWIN
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI



Before Pittman, P.j., Roberts And Smith, JJ.

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

DATE OF JUDGMENT: May 14, 1997

TRIAL JUDGE: HON. LEE J. HOWARD

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: LOWNDES COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT

NATURE OF THE CASE: CRIMINAL - FELONY

MOTION FOR REHEARING FILED:

MANDATE ISSUED:

STATEMENT OF THE CASE

¶1. Clint Baldwin was convicted in the Circuit Court of Lowndes County, Honorable Lee J. Howard, Circuit Judge, presiding, of the crime of sale of cocaine. He was thereafter sentenced to a term of twenty-eight years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, and to pay a fine of $50,000. Feeling aggrieved of the judgment thus entered against him, Baldwin appeals, raising the following as issues:

"I. THE COURT'S DENIAL OF THE DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR CHANGE OF VENUE OR, ALTERNATIVELY, A CONTINUANCE UNTIL AFTER TRIAL ON OTHER SERIOUS CHARGES, WHICH HAD BEEN THE SUBJECT OF SUBSTANTIAL PREJUDICIAL PRE-TRIAL PUBLICITY, DENIED THE DEFENDANT HIS RIGHT TO SECURE A FAIR AND IMPARTIAL JURY AS GUARANTEED BY ARTICLE 3, § § 14, 23, 26 AND 28 OF THE MISSISSIPPI CONSTITUTION AND THE 6TH, 8TH AND 14TH AMENDMENTS OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES. "II. THE COURT'S REFUSAL TO QUASH THE VENIRE, BASED ON THE RESPONSES OF POTENTIAL JURORS OBTAINED DURING VOIR DIRE, DENIED THE DEFENDANT HIS RIGHT TO A FAIR AND IMPARTIAL JURY AS GUARANTEED BY ARTICLE 3, § § 14, 23, 26 AND 28 OF THE MISSISSIPPI CONSTITUTION AND THE 6TH, 8TH AND 14TH AMENDMENTS OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES. "III. THE COURT'S REFUSAL TO ALLOW INDIVIDUAL VOIR DIRE OF POTENTIAL JURORS, WHEN APPROXIMATELY ONE-THIRD OF THE VENIRE INDICATED THEY HAD HEARD OF THE DEFENDANT, DENIED THE DEFENDANT HIS RIGHT TO A FAIR AND IMPARTIAL JURY AS GUARANTEED BY ARTICLE 3, § § 14, 23, 26 AND 28 OF THE MISSISSIPPI CONSTITUTION AND THE 6TH, 8TH AND 14TH AMENDMENTS OF THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION. "IV. THE COURT'S REFUSAL TO INSTRUCT THE JURY DURING VOIR DIRE THAT, IF SELECTED FOR THE TRIAL JURY AND AFTER FURTHER REFLECTION, THEY WISHED TO CORRECT THEIR PREVIOUS RESPONSES, AFTER TRIAL HAD BEGUN, DENIED THE DEFENDANT HIS RIGHT TO A FAIR AND IMPARTIAL JURY AS GUARANTEED BY ARTICLE 3, § § 14, 23, 26 AND 28 OF THE MISSISSIPPI CONSTITUTION AND THE 6TH, 8TH AND 14TH AMENDMENTS OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES. "V. THE COURT'S DENIAL OF THE DEFENDANT'S BATSON CHALLENGE ALLOWED FOR THE SYSTEMATIC EXCLUSION OF A DISPROPORTIONATE NUMBER OF THE JURORS OF THE DEFENDANT'S RACE, WHICH DENIED THE DEFENDANT HIS RIGHT TO A FAIR AND IMPARTIAL JURY AS GUARANTEED BY ARTICLE 3, § § 14, 23, 26 AND 28 OF THE MISSISSIPPI CONSTITUTION AND THE 6TH, 8TH AND 14TH AMENDMENTS OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES. "VI. THE COURT'S DENIAL OF THE DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SEQUESTER THE JURY DURING THE TRIAL TO SHIELD JURORS FROM PUBLICITY REGARDING THE DEFENDANT'S OTHER PENDING CHARGES, NAMELY CAPITAL MURDER, DENIED THE DEFENDANT HIS RIGHT TO A FAIR AND IMPARTIAL JURY AS GUARANTEED BY ARTICLE 3, § § 14, 23, 26 AND 28 OF THE MISSISSIPPI CONSTITUTION AND THE 6TH, 8TH AND 14TH AMENDMENTS OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES. "VII. THE COURT'S GRANTING OF THE STATE'S MOTION TO MATERIALLY AMEND THE INDICTMENT, ON THE DATE OF TRIAL, AND ALLOW TESTIMONY THAT RELATED TO THE AMENDMENT, PREJUDICED THE DEFENDANT'S ABILITY TO PROPERLY PREPARE FOR TRIAL, DENYING HIM DUE PROCESS AS GUARANTEED BY THE 5TH AND 14TH AMENDMENTS TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION AND ARTICLE 3, § § 14, 26 AND 27, OF THE MISSISSIPPI CONSTITUTION. "VIII.THE COURT'S REFUSAL TO STRIKE THE TESTIMONY OF STATE'S WITNESS, RHONDA PRICE, AS TO PREVIOUS UNINDICTED SALE OF PILLS TO HER BY THE DEFENDANT WAS NOT IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE LAW AND DENIED THE DEFENDANT DUE PROCESS AS GUARANTEED BY THE 5TH AND 14TH AMENDMENTS TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION AND ARTICLE 3, § § 14, 26 AND 27, OF THE MISSISSIPPI CONSTITUTION. "IX. THE COURT'S REFUSAL TO GRANT THE DEFENDANT'S THEORY OF THE CASE INSTRUCTION AND TO INSTRUCT THE JURY THAT CERTAIN IMPROPER ARGUMENT BY THE STATE SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED PREJUDICED THE JURY'S DELIBERATIONS AND DENIED THE DEFENDANT DUE PROCESS AS GUARANTEED BY THE 5TH AND 14TH AMENDMENTS TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION AND ARTICLE 3, § § 14, 26 AND 27, OF THE MISSISSIPPI CONSTITUTION. "X. THE COURT'S IMPROPER CONSIDERATION OF THE STATE'S EVIDENCE OF AGGRAVATION, NAMELY THE DEFENDANT'S PENDING CHARGES OF CAPITAL MURDER AND INTIMIDATING A WITNESS AND THE RESULTING SENTENCE IMPOSED BY THE COURT, DENIED THE DEFENDANT DUE PROCESS AS GUARANTEED BY THE 5TH AND 14TH AMENDMENTS TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION AND ARTICLE 3, § § 14, 26 AND 27, OF THE MISSISSIPPI CONSTITUTION AND HIS RIGHT TO BE FREE FROM CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT AS GUARANTEED BY THE 8TH AMENDMENT OF THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION."

STATEMENT OF THE FACTS

¶2. On March 27, 1996, Rhonda Price, a confidential informant and acquaintance of appellant Clint Baldwin (hereafter Baldwin), met with local narcotics agents, Larry Taylor and Robert Grimes and special undercover agent Shelly Arnold. At that meeting, Ms. Price's vehicle was equipped with a video camera and microphone to record any and all subsequent events.

¶3. At approximately 3:45 p.m., that same day, Price and Arnold were cruising the parking lot of the Morningside Apartments, when Price spotted the defendant and pulled over. Subsequently, various individuals, including Baldwin, approached the vehicle to sell the occupants cocaine. Baldwin sold a $20 rock of cocaine to the undercover agent, Shelly Arnold. Baldwin was later arrested for sale of cocaine in May 7, 1996, tried and found guilty on May 14, 1997.

DISCUSSION OF LAW

¶4. We will consider each of Baldwin's issues raised on appeal in sequence:

"I. THE COURT'S DENIAL OF THE DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR CHANGE OF VENUE OR, ALTERNATIVELY, A CONTINUANCE UNTIL AFTER TRIAL ON OTHER SERIOUS CHARGES, WHICH HAD BEEN THE SUBJECT OF SUBSTANTIAL PREJUDICIAL PRE-TRIAL PUBLICITY, DENIED THE DEFENDANT HIS RIGHT TO SECURE A FAIR AND IMPARTIAL JURY AS GUARANTEED BY ARTICLE 3, § § 14, 23, 26 AND 28 OF THE MISSISSIPPI CONSTITUTION AND THE 6TH, 8TH AND 14TH AMENDMENTS OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES."

¶5. On February 18, 1997, Baldwin filed a motion for change of venue with the Lowndes County Circuit Court. The basis for the motion is the fact that at about the same time that Baldwin was incarcerated on the sale of a controlled substance charge, he was also indicted for the kidnaping and murder of Elizabeth Dill. Baldwin argued that because of the incredible media coverage surrounding the capital murder charge, he could not possibly receive a fair trial on the sale of cocaine charge.

¶6. A hearing on this change of venue motion was held on February 19, 1997. In support of this motion, Baldwin called his former attorney, and a local practicing attorney, both of whom stated that this case had received a tremendous amount of media coverage and neither believed that Baldwin could get a fair trial in Lowndes County. Baldwin also introduced a video compilation of numerous local news stories and a compilation of printed news stories concerning the kidnaping and murder of Elizabeth Dill wherein Baldwin was one of the prime suspects.

¶7. In rebuttal, the State called Greg Andrews, Lowndes County Tax Assessor, Charles Younger, the Chancery Court Clerk, and J.L. Williams, a Supervisor of the Lowndes County Board of Supervisors. These three county officials all testified that they believed Baldwin could get a fair trial in Lowndes County. The Circuit Court Judge withheld ruling on this motion until after jury selection had been conducted at which time the Judge overruled the motion.

¶8. Baldwin makes much of both United States Supreme Court and Mississippi Supreme Court decisions dealing with change of venue in capital cases such as Irvin v. Dowd, 366 U.S. 717, 722 (1961), Johnson v. State, 476 So. 2d 1195, 1210 (Miss. 1985), Fisher v. State, 481 So. 2d 203 (Miss. 1985). However, the present case is not a ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.