February 26, 2015
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI
COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: WARREN COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 07/19/2013. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. M. JAMES CHANEY, JR. TRIAL COURT ATTORNEYS: BERT CARRAWAY.
FOR APPELLANT: THOMAS M. FORTNER.
FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, BY: BILLY L. GORE.
BEFORE RANDOLPH, P.J., KING AND COLEMAN, JJ. WALLER, C.J., LAMAR, KITCHENS, CHANDLER, PIERCE, KING AND COLEMAN, JJ., CONCUR. DICKINSON, P.J., NOT PARTICIPATING.
¶1. In 1992, Clarence Jones pleaded guilty to murder in the Circuit Court of Warren County, receiving a sentence of life imprisonment in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Jones's sentence was indefinitely suspended in 2004 by Governor Musgrove. He was released from prison on parole. In 2008, Governor Barbour granted Jones a pardon. In 2013, Jones moved the Circuit Court of Warren County to expunge his record because he had received a pardon for his conviction.
¶2. After a hearing on the matter, the trial court denied Jones's request to have his record expunged, finding that expungements were a creature of statute and that the Legislature has not included " receiving pardons" as grounds for expungement eligibility. Jones then appealed to this Court, raising the following issue:
Whether the Circuit Court has the statutory authority and/or constitutional obligation to order expungement of a person's murder conviction when that person has received a full, complete and unconditional pardon of the conviction from the Governor pursuant to the Executive's broad constitutional authority to pardon.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
¶3. On appeal, this Court reviews questions of law under a de novo standard. Polk v. State, 150 So.3d 967, 968 (Miss. 2014), reh'g denied (Dec. 4, 2014) (citing Brown v. State, 731 So.2d 595, 598 (Miss. 1999)).
¶4. This Court recently addressed expungement after pardon in Polk v. State,150 So.3d 967. Jones makes the same arguments that were rejected in Polk, i.e., that he is entitled to receive an expungement of his conviction based upon his pardon, citing Mississippi Code Section 99-19-71(4) and Ex Parte Crisler, 132 So. 103, 159 Miss. 247 (1931).
¶5. In Polk, this Court decided that no " statutory basis" existed which would allow Polk's conviction to be expunged based on his gubernatorial pardon. Polk, 150 So.3d at 970. Further, this Court determined that Crisler's authority was limited only to this Court's narrow
holding " that a full pardon absolves an attorney at law from all the consequences of an order of disbarment . . . as part of the punishment for the commission of a crime." Polk v. State, 150 So.3d at 970 (quoting Crisler, 132 So. at 104). This Court stated:
Having studied the matter before us, we find no convincing authority that a gubernatorial pardon automatically entitles the recipient to have his or her criminal record expunged. To us, an unconditional pardon solely removes all legal punishment for the offense and prevents any future legal disability based on that offense. It does not edit history.
Polk,150 So.3d at 970.
¶6. Today's facts resemble those seen in Polk, and the arguments are almost identical, thus requiring a decision correlating to that which already has been decided. We reject Jones's arguments.
¶7. The judgment of the Warren County Circuit Court is affirmed.
WALLER, C.J., LAMAR, KITCHENS, CHANDLER, PIERCE, KING AND COLEMAN, JJ., CONCUR. DICKINSON, P.J., NOT PARTICIPATING.