OF JUDGMENT: 03/03/2017
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. ISADORE W. PATRICK JR. JUDGE
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: PAUL E. ROGERS
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: ANTHONY LOUIS SCHMIDT JR. LORA
GRIFFIS, P.J., BARNES AND GREENLEE, JJ.
Although the Warren County Circuit Court had previously
granted Chelsey Ferguson's petition to expunge her
misdemeanor sex offense, it denied her subsequent petition
for relief from the duty to register as a sex offender.
Ferguson appeals and argues that (1) the Mississippi
Department of Public Safety had no authority to challenge her
petition for relief; and (2) the circuit court's decision
conflicts with the Mississippi Supreme Court's opinion in
Stallworth v. State, 160 So.3d 1161, 1164 (¶13)
(Miss. 2015), which provides that the expungement of a
registrable offense returns one to her pre-conviction status.
We agree with the latter assertion. Because Ferguson did not
have to register as a sex offender before her conviction, she
does not have to register after the expungement. Id.
Accordingly, we reverse the circuit court's judgment and
render a judgment in Ferguson's favor.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
In May 2011, Ferguson pled guilty to the misdemeanor offense
of disseminating sexually oriented material to a minor. The
circuit court gave Ferguson the maximum possible sentence:
one year in the county jail. Miss. Code Ann. §
97-5-27(1) (Rev. 2014). But the circuit court suspended all
of Ferguson's sentence and placed her on probation for a
year. As a result of her conviction, Ferguson had to register
as a sex offender. Miss. Code Ann. § 45-33-23(h)(vii)
Approximately five years later, she filed a successful
expungement petition. After the expungement, the Mississippi
Department of Public Safety Criminal Information Center
(MDPS) sent Ferguson's attorney an "Expunction
Resolution Notice," stating that MDPS could not process
the expungement order because Ferguson's conviction could
not be expunged. Thus, MDPS refused Ferguson's request
for relief from her prior obligation to register as a sex
Ferguson responded by filing the complaint that has led to
this appeal. She named MDPS as the sole defendant. After a
hearing, the circuit court entered an order stating that
Ferguson "fail[ed] to state an actionable claim upon
which relief can be granted . . . ." In other words, the
circuit court held that Ferguson's expungement did not
relieve her of the obligation to register as a sex offender.
Following her unsuccessful post-trial motion, Ferguson
appeals. She argues (1) MDPS had no authority to challenge
her request for relief from the obligation to register as a
sex offender; and (2) the circuit court erred when it
effectively held that she still had to register despite the
expungement of her misdemeanor conviction.
MDPS could participate in Ferguson's
Framing the issue as though it pertains to standing, Ferguson
essentially argues that MDPS had no authority to contest her
complaint for relief from the duty to register as a sex
offender. Her position is based on ...