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Clack v. City of Ridgeland

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

June 3, 2014

DANIEL CLACK, APPELLANT
v.
CITY OF RIDGELAND, MISSISSIPPI, APPELLEE

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: MADISON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 03/07/2013. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. JOHN HUEY EMFINGER. TRIAL COURT CONVICTED OF DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE, FIRST OFFENSE, FINED $900, AND SENTENCED TO FORTY-EIGHT HOURS IN THE CUSTODY OF THE MADISON COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT, WITH THE SENTENCE SUSPENDED UPON THE CONDITION THAT APPELLANT COMPLETE THE MISSISSIPPI ALCOHOL SAFETY EDUCATION PROGRAM AND TWO YEARS OF UNSUPERVISED PROBATION; CONVICTED OF CARELESS DRIVING AND FINED $50.

FOR APPELLANT: KEVIN D. CAMP, JARED K. TOMLINSON.

FOR APPELLEE: BOTY MCDONALD.

FOR CITY PROSECUTOR: BOTY MCDONALD.

BEFORE LEE, C.J., ROBERTS AND JAMES, JJ. LEE, C.J., IRVING, P.J., BARNES, MAXWELL, FAIR AND JAMES, JJ., CONCUR. ISHEE, J., CONCURS IN PART AND DISSENTS IN PART WITH SEPARATE WRITTEN OPINION. GRIFFIS, P.J., AND CARLTON, J., NOT PARTICIPATING.

OPINION

NATURE OF THE CASE: CRIMINAL - MISDEMEANOR

ROBERTS, J.

¶1. For the fourth time in less than a year, this Court is confronted with an appeal of a conviction from the City of Ridgeland in which the City has failed to file an appellate brief.[1] Incident to a de novo bench trial, the County Court of Madison County found Daniel Clack guilty of first-offense driving under the influence (DUI) and careless driving. During a hearing on Clack's posttrial motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) or, alternatively,

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a new trial, city prosecutor Boty McDonald admitted that he had unintentionally failed to provide Clack with potentially exculpatory video evidence per Clack's discovery request. Even so, the county court denied Clack's posttrial motions. The Madison County Circuit Court affirmed the county court's judgment. Clack appeals.

¶2. As previously mentioned, the City has failed to file an appellate brief. Because the prosecution conceded that it failed to provide evidence that was potentially exculpatory, we cannot confidently affirm the circuit court's judgment. Accordingly, we reverse the circuit court's judgment and remand this matter to its active trial docket.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

¶3. At approximately 3 a.m. on June 22, 2008, Officer Daniel Soto of the Ridgeland Police Department saw Clack driving on Pear Orchard Road in Ridgeland, Mississippi. According to Officer Soto, Clack was driving carelessly. Officer Soto stopped Clack. Ultimately, Officer Soto arrested Clack for DUI.

¶4. Clack later went before the Ridgeland Municipal Court, where he faced charges for first-offense DUI and careless driving. Clack pled " no contest" to both charges. He then appealed to the county court. Clack filed a motion for discovery. Clack's eleven-page discovery request was comprehensive. Among many other things, Clack requested that the prosecution disclose " [a]ny information that would tend to exculpate [Clack] to any degree." During November 2009, Clack received a de novo bench trial before the county court.

¶5. The prosecution called Officer Soto as its first and only witness. Officer Soto testified that Clack's Toyota Tundra pickup truck was " weaving in the roadway." Officer Soto also testified that Clack stopped in the road " for a matter of seconds." After Clack turned off of Pear Orchard Road " without using [his] blinker," Officer Soto stopped him.

¶6. According to Officer Soto, he smelled alcohol in Clack's pickup truck. Clack told Officer Soto that he had consumed three beers earlier that night. Officer Soto told Clack to get out of his pickup truck. Clack complied. Officer Soto then asked Clack whether he was lost. Officer Soto also asked Clack what he was doing in the area. Clack said that he was on his way to visit a friend's apartment in the area. ...


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