OF JUDGMENT: 05/23/2016
COUNTY CHANCERY COURT, FIRST JUDICIAL DISTRICT HON. WILLIAM
H. SINGLETARYTRIAL JUDGE
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: PAUL E. ROGERS.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: ROBERT S. MURPHREE.
GRIFFIS, P.J., FAIR, WILSON AND WESTBROOKS, JJ.
Leesa McCharen brought a claim against her ex-husband, Judson
Allred III, for child support arrearages, among other claims.
After almost two years of inactivity in the case, the clerk
filed a motion to dismiss for want of prosecution under
Mississippi Rule of Civil Procedure 41(d). Leesa filed a
motion to reinstate the case, and a hearing was held without
Judson or his attorney present. After Leesa's motion was
granted by the court, Judson filed a motion to set aside the
order reinstating the case. The court granted Judson's
motion under Mississippi Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b),
finding that there was no compelling reason for Leesa's
delay in prosecution. Leesa appeals. Finding the judge acted
well within his discretion, we affirm.
Judson and Leesa, both former attorneys, divorced in 1994.
They had two daughters - one born in 1985 and the other born
in 1988. The court granted Leesa physical and legal custody
of the minor children, subject to Judson's visitation
rights. Unfortunately, we are not privy to the details of the
divorce decree, as it was not included in the record.
On March 5, 2012, Leesa filed a petition for citation of
contempt and motion to modify former orders of the court. She
claimed Judson owed more than the $46, 000 in arrearages,
plus interest. Leesa also claimed that he was in willful
contempt for failing to obtain medical insurance for the
minor children and for failing to pay the insurance premiums
in the amount of $51, 500.08. She made various other claims,
allegedly stemming from Judson's failure to adhere to the
original divorce decree. Leesa also included private school
tuition and private college tuition. All in all, her claims
totaled over $537, 000. At the time of Leesa's petition,
their daughters were twenty-four and twenty-seven years old.
After a year of heated litigation, Leesa's claims
dwindled down to almost $136, 000. Leesa's last filing
was on August 12, 2013. On October 1, 2013, Judson filed a
motion to dismiss based on Leesa's failure to add their
daughters as necessary parties. The court held a hearing on
the motion on October 9. No order resulting from the hearing
appears in the record, but a later hearing transcript
mentions that the chancellor ordered Leesa to join her
daughters as parties. After that hearing, Leesa took no
action whatsoever in the case. On June 1, 2015, the clerk
moved that the case be dismissed under Rule 41(d). Leesa
still did nothing. The court dismissed the case without
prejudice on July 9, 2015. On August 7, 2015, Leesa filed a
motion to reinstate the case. Leesa's attorney, Paul
Rogers, asked Judson's attorney, Robert Murphree, if he
would sign an agreed order to reinstate the case. Murphree
said no. In December 2015, Rogers contacted Murphree about
possible hearing dates, and he agreed to several dates.
According to Murphree, that was the last he heard about the
The court held a hearing on February 25, 2016. Neither
Murphree nor Judson appeared. Leesa claimed she was unaware
of the clerk's motion to dismiss because the motion
listed the parties as "Allred Judson Moore" and
"Allred Leesa Crim" instead of "Judson Moore
Allred" and "Leesa Crim Allred." The court
ultimately granted Leesa's motion. Murphree said it was
not until April 28, 2016, that he discovered there had been a
hearing, when he received some discovery from Rogers. At
Murphree's request, Rogers sent him a copy of the motion
to reinstate the case.
Murphree filed a motion to set aside the order on May 2,
2016. A few days before the motion's hearing, Murphree
submitted an affidavit detailing his version of the events
between August 2015 and the February 2016 hearing. Murphree
said he never received notice of the hearing. He also
included copies of his notes from conversations with the
court administrator, who, on February 11, reportedly told him
the case was closed.
On May 17, 2016, the court held a hearing on what the
chancellor called a Rule 60 motion. The court found no good
cause shown for Leesa's delay and ...