DRAKE L. LEWIS
TONIA D. LEWIS PAGEL
OF JUDGMENT: 01/08/2016
COUNTY CHANCERY COURT HON. CARTER O. BISE, Judge
COURT ATTORNEYS: THOMAS WRIGHT TEEL DEAN HOLLEMAN
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: THOMAS W. TEEL
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: DEAN HOLLEMAN
RANDOLPH, P.J., KITCHENS AND CHAMBERLIN, JJ.
Tonia (Lewis) Pagel ("Tonia") filed for divorce
against Drake Lewis ("Drake") in the Harrison
County Chancery Court, Second Judicial District. An order of
divorce was entered in 2008. This case is now on its third
appeal to this Court.
Drake filed his first appeal from the order of divorce.
Lewis v. Lewis, 54 So.3d 233, 239 (Miss. Ct. App.
2009) (Lewis I) (remanding with instructions for
valuing the marital estate). On certiorari, this Court
affirmed in part and reversed in part, remanding the case to
the chancery court. Lewis v. Lewis, 54 So.3d 216,
218 (Miss. 2011) (Lewis II) (finding that "the
chancellor should value Legacy1[, a marital business, ]
without considering goodwill"). After remand, the
chancellor issued his judgment and an order on modification
and contempt. Drake filed his second appeal from the judgment
and the order. Lewis v. Pagel, 172 So.3d 162, 177
(Miss. 2015) (Lewis III) (remanding on issue of
Now, Drake appeals two issues. First, Drake argues that the
order of divorce should be voided due to a lack of
jurisdiction and that the chancellor erred in finding that he
resided in Harrison County. Drake claims that he never
resided in Harrison County and that it was an improper venue
for the suit. Second, Drake argues that the chancellor erred
in entering an order of contempt against him. Finding no
error, we affirm the judgment of the chancellor on both
OF FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Drake and Tonia were married in 1991. Tonia filed for divorce
in August 2006 in Harrison County Chancery Court, Second
Judicial District; an order of divorce was entered on January
On September 22, 2014, at a hearing on a contempt motion
filed by Tonia, while the second appeal was pending before
this Court, Drake filed a motion for a continuance and argued
for the first time in the litigation that the divorce action
was void for lack of jurisdiction due to improper venue under
Mississippi Code Section 93-5-11. The chancellor granted the
motion for continuance, and Drake filed a Motion to
Declare Prior Orders Void and to Dismiss Actions.
Drake's counsel claimed that he first became aware of the
lack of jurisdiction on September 22, 2014, when he and Drake
were discussing the facts related to the contempt motion.
In his filing, Drake argued that he and Tonia both resided in
Jackson County at the time of their separation and when Tonia
filed for divorce in Harrison County. He also noted that he
was served in Jackson County. In an affidavit, Drake
recognized that Tonia's complaint for divorce alleged
that he resided at "Gulf Shores Villa, Atkinson Road, in
Biloxi, Mississippi." He argued, though, that this was
the address of his aunt's condominium and that he had
never resided there. Further, he argued, after his separation
from Tonia, he resided at his business address in Jackson
County. While he conceded that he "spent some nights
away from Jackson County, " he claimed that he was a
resident of the county from the time of separation through
the entry of the divorce order in 2008 until he moved to
Louisiana in 2009.
As evidence of his residence in Jackson County, Drake noted
that his Mississippi driver's license was issued in
Jackson County from 2004 until 2008. He also pointed out that
his business office-which he argued he used as a primary
residence-was in Jackson County. Further, according to Drake,
he was registered to vote in Jackson County from 1996 to
2011. Lastly, he claimed that his mail, during this time
period, was delivered either to his marital residence or his
business-both in Jackson County.
In her response to Drake's motion, Tonia argued that
Drake left the marital residence on June 12, 2006, and moved
to Biloxi, Mississippi, in Harrison County after their
separation. She noted that Drake did not answer her
complaint that alleged that he resided in Harrison County.
Tonia also claimed that Drake, on his Rule 8.05 financial
disclosure statement, filed on September 29, 2006,
represented to the chancery court-in his own handwriting-that
his address was in Biloxi, Mississippi. See Miss.
Unif. Chancery Court R. 8.05. In response, Drake noted that
he spent ten to fourteen nights at the Biloxi address and put
the address there "probably because he had stayed there
when he drafted it." Further, Tonia noted that Drake
admitted in a 2007 deposition that he lived in Biloxi:
Q. And where did you live prior to January of '07?
A. I lived in Biloxi at an apartment.
Q. And when is the last time you lived at Marina Road or
Marina Drive, where the home is?
A. June of '06.
affidavit, Tonia claimed that "[d]uring his scheduled
visitations, I brought the children to him at th[e Harrison
County] residence where they remained with him for the
weekend." Tonia also cited her unrefuted trial
Q. And at the time -- so the record will be clear, at the
time you filed your complaint for divorce in the Second
Judicial District, that is where Drake was living, correct?
At the hearing, on October 6, 2014, Drake explained his
Immediately after the separation, I spent my time divided
between my aunt's. My aunt had a one-bedroom apartment in
Biloxi, and I spent some nights there and some nights at my
office in Gautier [in Jackson County], and then some of the
time at Stephanie's home in Jackson County in Ocean
also claimed that his residence remained the marital home
since he paid the mortgage on the property, and he claimed,
"I spent, as I said before, about equal times, probably
more in Gautier at my office than anywhere else." Drake
testified that since 2005 he had never had any voting
privileges, homestead rights, or residences in Harrison
County. Tonia testified that she never delivered the children
to the office for any weekend visitation. She also claimed
that Drake had told her that he was going to ...