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Cratin v. Fisher

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

December 12, 2017

CHRISTOPHER N. CRATIN A/K/A CHRISTOPHER CRATIN A/K/A CHRISTOPHER NEAL CRATIN APPELLANT
v.
COMMISSIONER MARSHALL FISHER APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 09/28/2016

         HINDS COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, FIRST JUDICIAL DISTRICT HON. WILLIAM A. GOWAN JR. TRIAL JUDGE

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: CHRISTOPHER N. CRATIN (PRO SE)

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: DARRELL CLAYTON BAUG

          BEFORE IRVING, P.J., BARNES AND WESTBROOKS, JJ.

          WESTBROOKS, J.

         ¶1. Christopher Cratin, appearing pro se, appeals the Hinds County Circuit Court's dismissal of his grievance filed through the Mississippi Department of Corrections' (MDOC) Administrative Remedy Program (ARP). After review of the record, we vacate and remand to the circuit court for dismissal for lack of jurisdiction.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. In July 2008, Cratin was convicted of two counts of fondling and one count of sexual battery in the DeSoto County Circuit Court. Cratin was sentenced to concurrent fifteen-year terms for his convictions. Cratin is currently incarcerated in Issaquena County Correctional Facility.

         ¶3. Cratin filed his first grievance through MDOC's ARP in April 2016, asserting that he was entitled to receive earned time, and that MDOC's policy regarding the exclusion of sex-crime offenders from meritorious earned time (MET) violated state law.

         ¶4. In June 2016, Cratin received MDOC's decision denying his ARP grievance. On the same day, Cratin sent a letter, addressed to the commissioner of MDOC, arguing that his ARP grievance was rejected without due consideration. MDOC rejected Cratin's letter, stating it was a duplicate request. Cratin appealed MDOC's ARP decision to the Hinds County Circuit Court.

         ¶5. In September 2016, the circuit court entered an order of dismissal. The circuit court acknowledged that it was unsure whether it could exercise jurisdiction over Cratin's complaint. Further, the circuit court stated if it could exercise jurisdiction over Cratin's appeal, MDOC's decision and policy prohibiting MET credit to sex offenders was not violative of state law. Cratin appeals.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         ¶6. This Court cannot disturb the decision of an administrative agency "unless the decision was unsupported by substantial evidence, was arbitrary or capricious, was beyond the agency's scope or powers, or violated the constitutional or statutory rights of the aggrieved party." Clark v. Miss. Dep't of Corr., 148 So.3d 403, 404 (¶5) (Miss. Ct. App. 2014) (citations omitted). "The standard of review for the trial court's decision to affirm or deny an administrative agency's findings and decisions is abuse of discretion." Id. Moreover, "[w]hether the circuit court has jurisdiction is a ...


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