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Thomas v. State

February 23, 1999

ORLANDO THOMAS APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE



Before McMILLIN, P.j., Diaz, And King, JJ.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Diaz, J.

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 04/08/1997

TRIAL JUDGE: HON. LEE J. HOWARD

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: CLAY COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT

NATURE OF THE CASE: CRIMINAL - MISDEMEANOR

TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: 04/08/1997: CONTEMPT OF COURT: SENTENCED TO SERVE A TERM OF 3 MONTHS IN THE CLAY COUNTY JAIL AND TO PAY A FINE OF $750 AND ALL COSTS

DISPOSITION: AFFIRMED - 02/23/99

MOTION FOR REHEARING FILED:

CERTIORARI FILED:

MANDATE ISSUED:

¶1. Orlando Thomas appeals the decision of the Clay County Circuit Court finding him guilty of contempt of court. Thomas raises the following issues on appeal: (1) whether the Justice court Judge's disruptive conduct tainted the judicial proceedings, (2) whether the circuit court Judge disregarded the sentencing statute and imposed an excessive punishment upon the defendant, and (3) whether the penalty imposed against the defendant was increased by the Justice court Judge's reaction to the conduct thereby escalating the gravity of the situation. Finding these assignments of error to be without merit, we affirm.

FACTS

¶2. On June 20, 1996, Thomas appeared before the Clay County Justice Court to pay a fine for a suspended driver's license and an expired inspection sticker. Justice Court Judge Jerry Guest also informed Thomas of a pending public profanity charge *fn1 . Thomas claims that he had no prior knowledge of this additional charge. Thomas pled not guilty to the public profanity charge, and immediately thereafter, Judge Guest conducted the trial. During the trial, a highway patrolman testified that Thomas was guilty of public profanity. Thomas objected to this testimony. Thomas also testified regarding the public profanity charge. After his testimony, Judge Guest found him guilty of public profanity and fined him one hundred seventy-two dollars and fifty cents ($172.50). As Thomas was leaving the courtroom he called Judge Guest a "son of a bitch" and was immediately placed under arrest for contempt of court.

ΒΆ3. Thomas was hand-cuffed and escorted to the front of the courtroom before Judge Guest's bench. At that point, the Judge asked Thomas if he understood that he was being held in contempt of court. Thomas remained silent. Judge Guest became upset and ordered that Thomas be placed in jail under contempt of court charges. Thomas, who remained handcuffed, was led from the courtroom when he directed another obscenity toward Judge Guest. At this point, Judge Guest came down from the bench and physically attacked Thomas. Judge Guest grabbed Thomas's head, but the court clerk and bailiff were able to restrain him. After the assault, Thomas was taken to the Clay County Jail on the contempt of court charge. Shortly thereafter, Thomas was released from jail. Justice Court Judge Ishee conducted a trial on the contempt charge, and Thomas was convicted. Thomas was sentenced to pay a fine of $300 plus assessments and to serve a term of three months in the Clay County Jail. Thomas appealed his conviction ...


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