OF JUDGMENT: 02/01/2016
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. WILLIAM E. CHAPMAN III JUDGE
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: CHRISTOPHER A. TABB.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY:
LISA L. BLOUNT.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: MICHAEL GUEST.
IRVING, P.J., ISHEE AND GREENLEE, JJ.
Belynthia Ross appeals her conviction in Rankin County
Circuit Court of simple assault of a vulnerable adult. She
asserts that (1) her indictment was fatally defective because
two headings that originally read "Madison" County
were stricken and overwritten with "Rankin, " (2)
the indictment erroneously lists the grand-jury foreman as
that of the "Madison" County Grand Jury, not
"Rankin, " and (3) simple assault of a vulnerable
adult is not a felony. We affirm.
Ross was indicted on June 4, 2015. On November 16, 2015, Ross
moved to quash the indictment because "it did not
contain the notarized signature of the Foreman of the Rankin
County, Mississippi Grand Jury." On November 23, 2015,
the circuit court heard argument on the motion. The circuit
court considered the references to "Madison" County
and determined that they were a scrivener's error. Trial
counsel for the State admitted that she noticed the error
prior to filing the indictment with the circuit clerk. She
corrected the error by striking out "Madison" and
writing "Rankin" over it. She also placed her
initials next to the changes. After conferring with the clerk
and reviewing the court's records, the circuit court
confirmed that the foreman who signed the indictment was the
actual foreman for the Rankin County Grand Jury during the
January 2015 term (the same term in which Ross was indicted).
The circuit court then made a finding on the record that the
signature was in fact that of the foreman for the Rankin
County Grand Jury, and when asked if there was still
"[a]ny dispute about that[, ]" Ross's counsel
replied, "No, Judge." The circuit court also
determined that the indictment did give the county in which
the indictment was brought with the scrivener's error and
correction by the State. At trial, Ross was found guilty of
simple assault of a vulnerable adult and sentenced to five
years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of
Ross does not now dispute that the foreman who signed the
indictment was the foreman for the Rankin County Grand Jury.
Rather, she asserts that her indictment was "deficient
on the face and does not meet the requirements as set
forth" because the (1) incorrect county was listed in
two headings of the indictment, (2) the incorrect county was
listed for the grand-jury foreman, and (3) the circuit clerk
listed was for the wrong county.
Although it was slipshod to use a form indictment listing
Madison County for a proceeding in Rankin County, the circuit
court under these facts was correct that listing the
incorrect county is nothing more than a harmless
scrivener's error. See Barnes v. State, 51 So.3d
986, 989-90 (¶12) (Miss. Ct. App. 2010). Secondly,
listing the incorrect circuit clerk was also a harmless
scrivener's error, more precisely, a typographical error.
The indictment is file-stamped and seal-stamped exclusively
by the Rankin County Circuit Clerk, and the typo was stricken
with the correct circuit clerk's name substituted.
Notwithstanding those harmless errors, the county in which
the indictment was brought must be included in the
indictment. URCCC 7.06. But "[t]he major purpose of an
indictment is to furnish the accused such a description of
the charges against [her] as will enable [her] to adequately
prepare [her] defense." Campbell v. State, 749
So.2d 1208, 1210 (¶7) (Miss. Ct. App. 1999). And
"[s]o long as a fair reading of the indictment, taken as
a whole, clearly describes the nature and cause of the charge
against the accused, the indictment is legally
sufficient." Farris v. State, 764 So.2d 411,
421 (¶20) (Miss. 2000). Here, the body of the indictment
alleged the crime occurred in Rankin County, and Ross does
not dispute that she was indicted in Rankin County. We find
the circuit court was correct in finding that the indictment
sufficiently stated the correct county in which the
indictment was brought. We find this issue is without merit.
Lastly, Ross reasserts that the trial court erred in finding
her guilty of "Felony Simple Assault of a Vulnerable
Adult as charged in the indictment" in its written final
order, because the crime she was charged with is not a
felony. But it is. See State v. Hawkins, 145 So.3d
636, 641 (¶11) (Miss. 2014) ("[S]imple assault of a