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Brown v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

November 4, 2014

MOLLY M. BROWN A/K/A MOLLY BROWN, APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, APPELLEE

Page 1047

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: NESHOBA COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 03/14/2013. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. MARCUS D. GORDON. TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: CONVICTED OF THE SALE OF HYDROCODONE AND ACETAMINOPHEN AND SENTENCED TO TEN YEARS IN THE CUSTODY OF THE MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS.

FOR APPELLANT: JULIE ANN EPPS.

FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, BY: BARBARA WAKELAND BYRD.

BEFORE IRVING, P.J., MAXWELL AND JAMES, JJ. LEE, C.J., BARNES, ISHEE, ROBERTS, MAXWELL, FAIR AND JAMES, JJ., CONCUR. CARLTON, J., DISSENTS WITH SEPARATE WRITTEN OPINION, JOINED BY GRIFFIS, P.J.

OPINION

Page 1048

NATURE OF THE CASE: CRIMINAL - FELONY

IRVING, P.J..

[¶1] A Neshoba County jury convicted Molly M. Brown of the sale of Hydrocodone and Acetaminophen. The circuit court sentenced her to ten years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Brown filed a motion for a new trial, which the court denied. Feeling aggrieved, Brown appeals and argues that (1) she was deprived of her constitutional rights to a fair trial and an impartial jury, as a biased juror was allowed to serve on the jury; (2) her attorney's failure to challenge the biased juror constitutes ineffective assistance of counsel; and (3) the verdict is against the overwhelming weight of the evidence.

[¶2] We find that Brown's trial counsel was ineffective for allowing a biased juror to serve on the jury, thereby denying Brown a fair and impartial trial. Consequently, we reverse the judgment of conviction and sentence and remand this case for further proceedings.

FACTS

[¶3] Since we are reversing Brown's conviction based on her counsel's ineffectiveness for not seeking to exclude a biased juror, we include only the facts emanating during the voir dire phase. During voir dire, prospective juror Dena Bishop stated that she had a nephew who was a DEA agent. After Bishop made that assertion, the following colloquy took place between Brown's trial counsel and Bishop:

Q. Okay. Do you have the opportunity to talk with [your nephew]--
A. No.
Q. --from time to time?
A. Not often. He's in another country.
Q. Okay. I take it [that] you're proud of him going into that type of situation?
A. Very proud.
Q. Okay. I take it [that] you would have a hard stance on any type of ...

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