BILLY J. FIELDS, APPELLANT/CROSS-APPELLEE
CITY OF CLARKSDALE, MISSISSIPPI, APPELLEE/CROSS-APPELLANT
COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: COAHOMA COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 05/06/2011. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. JOHNNIE E. WALLS JR. TRIAL COURT APPELLEE/CROSS-APPELLANT'S MOTION TO VACATE AND APPELLANT/CROSS-APPELLEE'S REQUEST FOR A HEARING ON DAMAGES DENIED.
DISPOSITION: REVERSED AND REMANDED.
FOR APPELLANT: DEREK D. HOPSON, DAVID NEIL MCCARTY.
FOR APPELLEE: CURTIS D. BOSCHERT.
BEFORE IRVING, P.J., ROBERTS AND JAMES, JJ. LEE, C.J., IRVING AND GRIFFIS, P.JJ., BARNES, ISHEE, CARLTON, MAXWELL, FAIR AND JAMES, JJ., CONCUR.
NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - OTHER
¶1. The continuing saga of Captain Billy J. Fields's termination in 2007 from the City of Clarksdale Fire Department for alleged insubordination is again before this Court. And the merit of the controversy has yet to be finally decided. Fields appeals and asks this Court to remand the case to the Coahoma County Circuit Court solely for a determination of his entitlement to back pay or damages. The City of Clarksdale (" City" ) filed a cross-appeal seeking remand to the circuit court for a hearing on the merits because a transcript of the hearing before the civil service commission (" Commission" ) had been filed and was ready for review. We conclude that this case, in its entirety, should be remanded to the circuit court for a hearing on the merits, including a determination of back pay and damages if Fields was wrongfully terminated.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
¶2. The procedural history in this case is long and winding. The battle over a transcript that is the subject of this appeal began in 2007 when the Commission informed Fields of the cost of preparing the record for his appeal of his termination to
the circuit court. Fields v. City of Clarksdale, 27 So.3d 464, 466 (¶ 5) (Miss. Ct. App. 2010). On October 18, 2007, Fields filed a motion requesting the City pay the costs of having the transcript prepared. Id. The circuit court dismissed Fields's appeal with prejudice after it found that he did not timely seek the court's assistance in securing the transcript. Id. Fields appealed this dismissal. We reversed and remanded the case, finding that Fields was entitled to notice of the deficiency of his appeal, i.e., no transcript, and an opportunity to correct the deficiency. Id. at 468 (¶ 11). Fields again moved to have the City bear the cost of the transcript. The circuit court granted that motion on February 26, 2010.
¶3. The circuit court entered an order on February 26, 2010, compelling the City to pay the cost of preparing the transcript and to produce it within thirty days. Just prior to that order, the Commission wrote a letter to the court reporter requesting the transcript. The Commission then sent two more letters, one in April and one in May, requesting the transcript once again. After the court reporter did not produce the transcript, Fields filed a motion for contempt on September 8, 2010. The Commission then filed a one hundred and fifty-five page record on October 13, 2010; however, the transcript was not included, as it had not been prepared. The City also submitted a memo to the circuit court requesting that Fields be required to show specific prejudice by the missing transcript since the remainder of the record had been filed. It submitted that Mississippi Rule of Appellate Procedure ...