OF JUDGMENT: 12/27/2016
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. WILLIAM E. CHAPMAN III TRIAL JUDGE
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: MAC KENZIE WILLIS (PRO SE)
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEES: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY:
DARRELL C. BAUGHN
Mac Kenzie Willis appeals the circuit court's dismissal
of his complaint for lack of jurisdiction. Because we find
the circuit court had jurisdiction, we reverse and remand.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Willis is an inmate in the custody of the Mississippi
Department of Corrections (MDOC). In January 2006, Willis was
convicted of one count of unlawful touching of a child and
one count of statutory rape. He was sentenced to fifteen
years for the unlawful touching of a child and twenty years
for statutory rape, with the sentences to run concurrently,
for a total of twenty years to serve in the custody of the
MDOC. At all times relevant to this appeal, Willis was housed
at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Rankin
On September 12, 2016, Willis was issued a rule violation
report (RVR) for the possession of major
contraband-electronic devices or parts, specifically a cell
phone and battery. A disciplinary hearing was held where the
hearing officer, Latisha Brooks,  found Willis guilty of
possession of major contraband. As a result, Willis received
an eighteen-month loss of all privileges.
Willis appealed the hearing officer's decision through
the MDOC's administrative- remedy program and claimed a
violation of due process. Wendell Banks, a warden with the
MDOC, reviewed the appeal and found that Willis had received
a fair and impartial hearing. As a result, Willis's
appeal was denied.
Willis exhausted his administrative remedies pursuant to
Mississippi Code Annotated section 47-5-803 (Rev. 2015) and
received notice of the MDOC's final decision on November
10, 2016. On December 9, 2016, Willis filed a complaint for
judicial review in the Circuit Court of Rankin County
pursuant to Mississippi Code Annotated section 47-5-807 (Rev.
2015). The circuit court summarily dismissed the complaint
for lack of jurisdiction on December 27, 2016. Willis now
appeals and argues he was denied his constitutional right to
The circuit court summarily dismissed the complaint for lack
of jurisdiction. Jurisdictional issues are reviewed de novo.
Miller v. Provident Advert. & Mktg. Inc., 155
So.3d 181, 187 (¶15) (Miss. Ct. App. 2014).
Additionally, "[t]he appellate standard of review as to
dismissal of actions on the pleadings is de novo."
Horton v. Epps, 20 So.3d 24, 30 (¶15) (Miss.
Ct. App. 2009).
The circuit court did not explain why it lacked jurisdiction.
Further, the circuit court did not specify whether it
considered subject matter jurisdiction or personal
jurisdiction. Instead, in support of its dismissal for lack
of jurisdiction, the circuit court simply cited Moore v.
Mississippi Department of Corrections, 936 So.2d 941
(Miss. Ct. App. 2005).
In Moore, the circuit court found it lacked
jurisdiction since Moore failed to file his petition in the
county where he was detained and failed to file his petition
within the statutory thirty-day period following receipt of
the MDOC's final decision. Id. at 944
(¶¶13-15). On appeal, we affirmed the circuit
court's dismissal of Moore's petition and found
"that there were ample reasons for finding that the
[circuit] court lacked jurisdiction . . . ."
Id. at (¶16).
Here, unlike in Moore, the record shows Willis filed
his complaint for judicial review in the county where he was
detained, i.e., Rankin County. Thus, although not
specifically noted, we assume the circuit court's
dismissal for lack of jurisdiction was based upon
Willis's failure to timely seek judicial review of the
MDOC's final decision.
Under section 47-5-807, any offender aggrieved by an adverse
decision may seek judicial review "within thirty (30)
days after receipt of the [MDOC's] final decision."
The record indicates Willis filed his complaint for judicial
review in the circuit court within thirty days after receipt
of the MDOC's final decision, as required by section
47-5-807. However, it appears that when Willis filed his
complaint in the circuit court, he failed to attach or
include any documentation that showed when he received the
MDOC's final decision. Without such ...