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Dean v. Slade

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

April 22, 2014

RICHARD DEAN, APPELLANT
v.
KATIE C. SLADE, L. GUY JACKSON, FLORA S. NICHOLS RAGAN AND JAN DEAN, APPELLEES

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: JACKSON COUNTY CHANCERY COURT. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 04/24/2012. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. G. CHARLES BORDIS IV. TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: MOTION FOR RELIEF FROM JUDGMENT DENIED.

FOR APPELLANT: RICHARD DEAN (Pro se).

FOR APPELLEES: JOHN MAJOR KINARD, JAN DEAN (Pro se), KEVIN M. MELCHI.

BEFORE LEE, C.J., ROBERTS AND JAMES, JJ. LEE, C.J., IRVING AND GRIFFIS, P.JJ., BARNES, ISHEE, ROBERTS, CARLTON, MAXWELL AND FAIR, JJ., CONCUR.

OPINION

Page 469

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - REAL PROPERTY

JAMES, J.

[¶1] Richard Dean (Dean) initiated an adverse-possession case in the Chancery

Page 470

Court of Jackson County against the interests of Katie Slade, Guy Jackson, Flora Nichols Ragan, and Jan Dean in a parcel of land near Vancleave, Mississippi. Following a trial, the chancellor found that Dean failed to prove that he had adversely possessed the property. Dean appealed, and this Court affirmed. Dean filed a petition for a writ of certiorari, which the Mississippi Supreme Court denied. Dean then filed a motion for relief from judgment in the chancery court. That motion was heard and denied. Dean now appeals. We affirm.

FACTS

[¶2] Dean filed a complaint for adverse possession in the Chancery Court of Jackson County on May 25, 2006. The subject property was approximately eighty acres of unimproved real estate located near Vancleave (Vancleave Property). The adverse-possession case proceeded to trial on March 5, 2009. Following the trial, the chancellor concluded that Dean failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that he had adversely possessed the Vancleave Property. Dean filed a motion for a new trial or, in the alternative, a judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV), which was denied. Dean appealed the chancery court judgment, and we affirmed. Dean v. Slade, 63 So.3d 1230, 1238 (¶ 31) (Miss. Ct. App. 2011). Dean filed a motion for rehearing, which was denied by an order entered April 5, 2011. Dean petitioned for a writ of certiorari, which the Mississippi Supreme Court denied on June 23, 2011. Dean v. Slade, 63 So.3d 1229 (Miss. 2011).

[¶3] Dean then returned to the chancery court on September 1, 2011, and filed a motion for relief from judgment. In his motion and memorandum in support of his motion, Dean alleged that, prior to trial, the defense engaged in " earwigging" by improperly submitting an ex parte communication to the court prior to the entry of judgment. Dean asserted that the chancellor relied on the contents of the communication in her findings and final judgment.[1] Dean also claimed that new evidence, discovered after the trial, refuted Slade's trial testimony pertaining to the payment of taxes on the Vancleave Property.

[¶4] A hearing was held on April 18, 2012. On April 24, 2012, the chancellor entered a judgment denying Dean's motion for relief from judgment. On May 3, 2012, Dean filed a motion for reconsideration and rehearing. A hearing on that motion was held on August 16, 2012, and the motion was denied by an order entered the following day. Dean appeals. Finding no error, we affirm.

DISCUSSION

[¶5] " The decision to grant relief under Rule 60(b) of the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure is a matter left to the sound discretion of the trial court, and our review is limited to whether there has been an abuse of that discretion." Sabal Corp. v. Howell, 853 So.2d 122, 124 (¶ 3) (Miss. Ct. App. 2003) . Thus, " [o]ur role is solely to determine whether the Rule 60(b) motion for relief from judgment was properly denied. We are not ...


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