COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: MADISON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 04/15/2013. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. JOHN HUEY EMFINGER.
FOR APPELLANT: THOMAS M. FORTNER.
FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, BY: JEFFREY A. KLINGFUSS.
COLEMAN, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT. WALLER, C.J., RANDOLPH, P.J., LAMAR, KITCHENS, CHANDLER, PIERCE AND KING, JJ., CONCUR. DICKINSON, P.J., DISSENTS WITHOUT SEPARATE WRITTEN OPINION.
¶1. Katherine Robertson pleaded guilty to aggravated assault in 2006. In 2012, Governor Haley Barbour pardoned Robertson, and she filed a motion to have her record expunged. The circuit judge denied the motion, and Robertson appealed. The issue presented was a novel one when Robertson filed her appeal, but it has since been decided. The Court recently held that statutory authority does not provide for expungement of a pardoned conviction. Polk v. State, 150 So.3d 967 (Miss. 2014). Therefore, we affirm the trial court's denial of Robertson's motion to expunge.
Facts and Procedural History
¶2. Katherine Robertson was indicted for aggravated assault in 2006 after she shot and injured a man. She entered a guilty plea and was sentenced to twenty years in prison, with five years suspended. In January 2012, former Governor Haley Barbour issued an executive order granting " a full, complete, and unconditional pardon" to Robertson. Based on the governor's pardon, Robertson filed a motion to expunge her record in the Madison County Circuit Court. The circuit court denied the motion, holding that it did not have authority to expunge a record. Robertson filed a motion to reconsider, a short hearing was held, and the judge denied the motion to reconsider. Robertson appealed.
¶3. Expungement is statutory in nature. " This Court applies a de novo standard of review to questions of statutory interpretation." Finn v. State, 978 So.2d 1270, 1272 (¶ 6) (Miss. 2008) (citing Capital One Servs. v. Page, 942 So.2d 760, 762 (Miss. 2006)). The Court has held that circuit courts do not have the inherent power to expunge criminal records, but they can do so if statutorily authorized. Caldwell v. State, 564 So.2d 1371, 1373 (Miss. 1990). The Legislature has authorized expungement of criminal records in certain instances, including: youth court cases; first offense misdemeanor convictions before age twenty-three; convictions for drug possession before age twenty-six; convictions for purchasing alcohol as a minor; and municipal court convictions. See Caldwell, 564 So.2d at 1373 (code sections omitted). However, the Court recently held that there is no statutory authority for expungement of a pardoned conviction. Polk v. State, 150 So.3d 967 (Miss. 2014).
¶4. Robertson argues that Mississippi Code Section 99-19-71(4) governs her situation and mandates expungement of her criminal record. That section provides: " Upon petition therefor, a justice, county, circuit or municipal court shall expunge the record of any case in which an arrest was made, the person arrested was released and the case was dismissed or the charges were dropped or there was no disposition of such case." Miss. Code Ann. § 99-19-71(4)
(Supp. 2014). Robertson claims that, because she was granted a full and unconditional pardon, the pardon erased her conviction and it is " as if it never was." She writes that the effect of the pardon is that " she was arrested, released, and there was no disposition of the case," therefore, the circuit court was required to grant expungement under Section 99-19-71(4). We do not agree. Section 99-19-71(4) does not apply to Robertson because she was not released after arrest, the case against her was not dismissed, and the charges were not dropped. See Miss. Code Ann. ...