OF JUDGMENT: 03/22/2017
LAFAYETTE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. JOHN KELLY LUTHER JUDGE
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: MICHAEL CLAYTON BAREFIELD
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: J. CAL MAYO JR. SARAH KATHERINE EMBRY
IRVING, P.J., WILSON AND TINDELL, JJ.
Mississippi Division of Sons of Confederate Veterans
(SCV) appeals the judgment of the Lafayette
County Circuit Court. SCV makes the following arguments: the
chancery court erred in transferring the case to the circuit
court for lack of subject matter jurisdiction; the circuit
court erred in assuming subject matter jurisdiction over the
case; the circuit court erred in dismissing the case; and the
circuit court erred in ruling that this case is a mandamus
action. Finding no error, we affirm.
SCV filed its original petition on September 18, 2014, in the
Lafayette County Chancery Court, requesting an injunction
against the University of Mississippi (UM), in response to
UM's diversity plan that set out to move, rename, or
recontexualize confederate monuments, street names, and
building names on its Oxford, Mississippi, campus. The
petition requested that UM be prevented from altering,
desecrating, attacking, removing, or renaming any of the
confederate monuments or insignia on campus. A Rule 81
Summons was issued for UM, but the record does not show if it
was served. Nevertheless, on October 17, 2014, two lawyers
entered their appearances on behalf of UM. After almost two
years of inactivity, on April 29, 2016, the chancery court
entered an order removing the case from its trial docket and
dismissing it without prejudice. On May 9, 2016, SCV filed an
amended petition for injunction and other relief. By that
time, UM had begun moving forward with its diversity plan and
had renamed Confederate Drive. It had also placed a placard
near a confederate monument on campus to recontexulaize its
presence. In its amended petition, SCV requested that those
actions be reversed, in addition to requesting that no
further changes be made.
UM responded to the amended complaint and filed a motion to
dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) of the Mississippi Rules of
Civil Procedure for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
After responses to the motion to dismiss had been filed and
the case had been set for hearing, SCV filed a motion to have
the case reinstated. The motion stated that neither party was
aware of the dismissal, and with the court's approval,
the case was reinstated by agreement between the parties.
According to SCV, at an informal hearing in the judge's
chambers, the chancery court found that SCV sought mandamus
relief and that it lacked subject-matter jurisdiction to hear
the case, as that jurisdiction resides with the circuit
court. Rather than dismiss the action, the chancery court
entered an order denying dismissal and transferring the
action to the circuit court. SCV did not file a motion for
reconsideration or any other motions stemming from that
After the transfer to the circuit court, UM filed a motion to
dismiss for lack of standing. SCV filed a motion to determine
jurisdiction and to transfer back to chancery court. After
responses and rebuttals to both motions, a hearing was held
before the circuit court on March 7, 2017. The circuit court
ruled that the case was a mandamus action and not simply a
case for injunctive relief, denied SCV's motion, and
granted UM's motion to dismiss for lack of standing to
bring a mandamus action. SCV appealed.
This Court "reviews errors of law, which include summary
judgments and motions to dismiss, de novo." Aldridge
v. West, 929 So.2d 298, 300 (¶6) (Miss. 2006).
"Jurisdiction is a question of law that is reviewed de
novo. When considering the ruling on a motion to transfer
from chancery court to circuit court, our review is de
novo." Big River Oilfield Servs. LLC v. Wilcox
Drilling Co., 109 So.3d 123, 125 (¶5) (Miss. Ct.
The nature of this controversy is the alleged violation of
Mississippi Code Annotated section 55-15-81 (Rev. ...