JOHNNY RAY SIMS a/k/a JOHNNY R. SIMS
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI
COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: MARION COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 04/16/2009. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. PRENTISS GREENE HARRELL.
FOR APPELLANT: JOHNNY RAY SIMS (Pro se).
FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, BY: LAURA H. TEDDER.
LAMAR, JUSTICE. WALLER, C.J., RANDOLPH, P.J., PIERCE AND COLEMAN, JJ., CONCUR. KITCHENS, J., DISSENTS WITH SEPARATE WRITTEN OPINION JOINED BY DICKINSON, P.J., CHANDLER AND KING, JJ.
NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - POST-CONVICTION RELIEF
¶1. In a multi-count indictment, Johnny Ray Sims was charged with three counts of aggravated assault, with each count alleging a separate victim. The trial court subsequently accepted the defendant's best-interest guilty plea to one count of aggravated assault and dismissed the remaining counts. As part of his sentence,
Sims was ordered to pay restitution to an alleged victim named in one of the dismissed counts. More than three years later, Sims filed a petition for post-conviction relief, raising a claim of illegal sentence, among several other claims. The trial court dismissed Sims's petition as time-barred and successive, and the Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal. We granted Sims's petition for writ of certiorari to review his claim that restitution related to a dismissed charged was improper.
On September 13, 2003, Sergeant Pearlie Hendricks saw Sims's vehicle outside an AutoZone store in Columbia, Mississippi. Sergeant Hendricks knew Sims and believed he had warrants for his arrest. She contacted dispatch to confirm that the warrants were active, and they were. Sims's girlfriend, Angelina Robinson, was a passenger in the vehicle. When Sergeant Hendricks approached the vehicle, she asked Robinson to open the door. Robinson complied. Sergeant Hendricks tried to speak to Sims through the opening, but Sims told Robinson to close the door. He then drove off at a high rate of speed with police officers in pursuit.
During the pursuit, Sims ran a red light and collided with a vehicle driven by Mary Beth Broome. Sims continued to drive, striking a second vehicle driven by Virgie Stevens. Sims's vehicle then struck a tree, injuring Robinson. Sims exited the vehicle and fled on foot.
¶2. Based on these events, Sims was indicted on three separate counts of aggravated assault: Count I for injuries to Virgie Stevens (driver of the second car), Count II for injuries to Angelina Robinson (Sims's passenger), and Count III for injuries to Mary Beth Broome (driver of the first car).
¶3. Sims entered a " best interest" or Alford plea to the count of aggravated assault that pertained to Mary Beth Broome. Upon recommendation of the State, the trial court dismissed the two remaining counts of aggravated assault, but ordered Sims to pay restitution to Mary Beth Broome and Virgie Stevens. Sims was ordered to pay $4,000 to Broome and $6,000 to Stevens.
¶4. Sims petitioned for post-conviction relief in the trial court, and his petition was dismissed as time-barred and successive. Addressing the merits, the Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal and rejected Sims's argument that restitution to Stevens was an illegal punishment.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
¶5. To succeed on appeal from a trial court's dismissal of a motion for post-conviction relief, the defendant must demonstrate that the trial court's decision was " clearly erroneous."  When questions of law are raised, ...