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Mississippi Department of Corrections v. Bland

Supreme Court of Mississippi, En Banc

January 26, 2017

MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
v.
JERRY BLAND

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 09/18/2015

         COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: SUNFLOWER COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, HON. CAROL L. WHITE-RICHARD, JUDGE

         REVERSED AND RENDERED

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: ANTHONY L. SCHMIDT, JR. OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: DARRELL C. BAUGHN

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: JERRY BLAND (PRO SE)

          CHAMBERLIN, JUSTICE

         ¶1. The Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) appeals the Sunflower County Circuit Court's decision requiring it to develop a parole case plan for Jerry Bland. We reverse and render.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. In 1982, Bland pleaded guilty to capital murder, burglary of a dwelling, and uttering a forgery. He was sentenced to life imprisonment for the capital murder, to ten years for the burglary, and to fifteen years for the forgery. Bland first was eligible for parole in October 1998, but he was denied. Since then, Bland has had seven more parole hearings, and his next hearing currently is scheduled for May 21, 2018.

         ¶3. After House Bill 585 went into effect in July 2014, Bland sought a parole case plan pursuant to newly enacted Mississippi Code Section 47-7-3.1.[1] On July 1, 2015, Bland filed his "first step" with MDOC's Administrative Remedy Program (ARP).[2] In response, MDOC said that House Bill 585 was not retroactive and that it applied only to those offenders sentenced on or after July 1, 2014. MDOC informed Bland that he was not entitled to a parole case plan, but that he would "continue to be considered for Parole Docket and be reviewed by the Parole Board." Bland proceeded to ARP's "second step, " and MDOC again informed him that he was not entitled to a parole case plan.

         ¶4. Bland then filed a motion for judicial review in the Circuit Court of Sunflower County, [3] and the circuit judge reversed MDOC's decision, finding that Section 47-7-3.1 applied retroactively to offenders sentenced before July 1, 2014. MDOC now appeals to this Court and presents two arguments:

1. Bland is not eligible to receive a parole case plan, pursuant to Miss. Code Ann. § 47-7-3.1, since he was convicted prior to July 1, 2014; and
2. Developing a case plan is moot since Bland's parole eligibility date is in the past, so the purpose of the case plan which is to facilitate ...

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