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Smith v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

December 3, 2013

James SMITH a/k/a James Estus Smith a/k/a Estus James Smith a/k/a Outlaw, Appellant
v.
STATE of Mississippi, Appellee.

Page 1025

James Smith, appellant, pro se.

Office of the Attorney General by John R. Henry Jr., attorney for appellee.

Before LEE, C.J., MAXWELL and FAIR, JJ.

LEE, C.J.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

¶ 1. In May 2000, James Estus Smith pleaded guilty to murder, for which he was sentenced to life imprisonment, and robbery, for which he was sentenced to fifteen years. Both sentences were ordered to be served in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, with the robbery sentence to run consecutive to the murder sentence.

¶ 2. Smith timely filed his first motion for post-conviction relief (PCR), which the trial court dismissed. Smith appealed to this Court, asserting the following issues: (1) his guilty plea was involuntary; (2) he should have received an evidentiary hearing; and (3) he was entitled to a competency hearing. Smith v. State, 910 So.2d 635, 636 (¶ 1) (Miss.Ct.App.2005). We found Smith's issues to be without merit and affirmed the trial court's decision. Id. at 640 (¶ 29).

¶ 3. Smith filed his second PCR motion in May 2012, which the trial court summarily dismissed in July 2012. Smith subsequently filed an appeal, raising two issues: (1) ineffective assistance of counsel; and (2) a double-jeopardy violation.

¶ 4. The record indicates that Smith also filed a motion entitled " motion to stay appeal/discretionary dismissal" in the trial court on August 17, 2012. Smith included with his brief a ruling from the trial court treating his notice of appeal as a motion for permission to proceed with an out-of-time appeal. The trial court denied Smith's motion for relief on January 16,

Page 1026

2013. [1]

STANDARD OF REVIEW

¶ 5. When reviewing a trial court's denial or dismissal of a PCR motion, we will only disturb the trial court's factual findings if they are clearly erroneous; however, we review the trial court's legal conclusions under a de novo standard of review. Hughes v. State, 106 So.3d 836, 838 (¶ 4) (Miss.Ct.App.2012).

DISCUSSION

I. INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL

II. DOUBLE-JEOPARDY VIOLATION

¶ 6. We first note that Smith did not raise these issues in the trial court; thus, we are precluded from reviewing them on appeal. See Fluker v. State, 17 So.3d 181, 183 (¶ 5) (Miss.Ct.App.2009). Furthermore, as this was Smith's second PCR motion, it is barred as a successive writ. See Miss.Code Ann. § 99-39-23(6) (Supp.2013). " Errors affecting fundamental constitutional rights[, including double jeopardy,] are excepted from the procedural bars of the [Uniform Post-Conviction Collateral Relief Act]" . Rowland v. State, 42 So.3d 503, 508 (¶ 16) (Miss.2010). In this instance, however, since Smith was only prosecuted once for his crimes of murder and robbery, there was no double-jeopardy violation.

¶ 7. Smith also makes vague assertions about seeking DNA testing of his coconspirator. This issue, however, was not raised in the trial court.

¶ 8. We find both procedural and successive-writ bars preclude our consideration of the merits of Smith's appeal. Thus, we affirm the trial court's dismissal of Smith's PCR motion.

¶ 9. THE JUDGMENT OF THE LAMAR COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT DISMISSING THE MOTION FOR POST-CONVICTION RELIEF IS AFFIRMED. ALL COSTS OF THIS APPEAL ARE ASSESSED TO LAMAR COUNTY.

IRVING AND GRIFFIS, P.JJ., BARNES, ISHEE, ROBERTS, CARLTON, MAXWELL, FAIR AND JAMES, JJ., CONCUR.


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