OF JUDGMENT: 07/14/2015
FROM WHICH APPEALED: HINDS COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, HON. JEFF
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: JEFFREY M. GRAVES DENNIS C. SWEET,
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY:
JOSEPH SCOTT HEMLEBEN
WALLER, CHIEF JUSTICE
Attorney Greg Spore appeals the order finding him in direct
criminal contempt by Judge Jeff Weill Sr. of the Hinds County
Circuit Court for displaying willful, contemptuous behavior
that interfered with the orderly administration of justice.
Finding that the record supports the trial court's order
beyond a reasonable doubt, we affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
On July 13, 2015, Greg Spore, Hinds County Assistant Public
Defender, appeared in the Circuit Court of the First Judicial
District of Hinds County before the Honorable Jeff Weill Sr.,
Circuit Judge, to represent Jeremy Cowards in an adjudication
hearing, following the violation of his probation. Cowards
had been indicted for house burglary and was ordered on
January 11, 2011, to Regimented Inmate Discipline
(RID). On October 31, 2011, when Cowards had
completed the RID program, he was sentenced to five years of
nonadjudicated probation. Thereafter, on May 6, 2015, Cowards
was convicted of domestic violence in Jackson Municipal Court
for punching a woman while she held a young child.
At Coward's hearing on the probation violation before
Judge Weill, he was found guilty of burglary for which he
previously had received nonadjudicated probation. After the
pronouncement of guilt, Judge Weill asked whether the defense
had any argument for the court to consider for sentencing.
Spore enumerated various reasons for the court to consider
allowing Cowards to remain out of jail. Spore stated:
There are many factors at play here Your Honor concerning
both employment, family -- he's got the support of both
immediate and extended family in the community, much
accountability. He has two daughters, one an infant daughter;
in fact born in December, December 24th, his Christmas
miracle I believe he refers to her as. Johneia I believe her
name is. And he's trying, he wants to get back to his
family. He wants to get back to his employer. I left a
message trying to get up with Mr. Tony Lofton here in the
security service here in Jackson, Mississippi. He's
employed Mr. Cowards in the past, and it's my
understanding that he's willing to employ him in the
future, as soon as he is released.
Following Spore's argument, Judge Weill asked whether the
defense had "anything further in argument on the
sentencing to be imposed" and whether the defendant
wanted to say anything. Spore responded that he was speaking
on Cowards's behalf.
Judge Weill asked a third time whether Spore had "fully
made [his] argument, " and Spore again replied,
"[y]es, Your Honor." Spore continued: "[a]nd
again, we would just implore the Court to . . . allow him to
maintain his non-adjudicated status." Judge Weill then
stated that "the reason I'm asking if you've
fully made your argument, is after I pronounce sentence
I'm not going to hear further argument -- [.]" Spore
replied, "[u]nderstood, Your Honor." Judge Weill
then again told Spore to "finish your argument."
Yes, Your Honor. I believe, and on the outset I did make
mention of the preliminary hearing. That was a concern only
insofar as we don't know if indeed one took place. And if
one did take place we don't know the date of that
particular hearing. That would just give us a better sense of
the timeline of how things have run from his arrest, the
initial arrest for the alleged --excuse me -- simple
domestic. As well as I believe a warrant in this instance was
filed mid June. And we're just trying to gauge if that
was early on. I have a suspicion that the preliminary hearing
may have taken place in March in the immediate wake of his
initial arrest, prior to an affidavit being filed with the
Court for a warrant for his arrest for the revocation, for
the violation allegation.
Weill then asked "anything further?" and Spore
responded "[n]o, Your Honor."
Judge Weill then sentenced Cowards to ten years in prison
with three years suspended, after which the following
colloquy took place between Spore and Judge Weill:
MR. SPORE: Your Honor we just have one -- it's not an
argument Your Honor.
THE COURT: Excuse me.
MR. SPORE: We had one last point. We'd assumed the reason
THE COURT: Excuse me Mr. Spore.
MR. SPORE: Yes, sir.
THE COURT: I gave you ample opportunity, twice, to make all