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Rice v. State

Supreme Court of Mississippi

November 27, 2018

DAVID LEE RICE A/K/A DAVID L. RICE A/K/A DAVID RICE Petitioner
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI Respondent

          EN BANC ORDER

          WILLIAM L. WALLER, JR., CHIEF JUSTICE

         This matter is before the Court, en banc, on the "Motion to Rescind Order as Unconstitutional and a Violation of Article 3, Section 25, Mississippi Constitution" filed pro se by David Lee Rice. Rice seeks to have the Court rescind its October 23, 2017, Order in this case number, in which the Court held that Rice

is hereby restricted from filing further petitions for post-conviction collateral relief (or pleadings in that nature) that are related to this conviction and sentence in forma pauperis until he has paid all outstanding sanctions. The Clerk of this Court shall not accept for filing any further petitions for post-conviction collateral relief (or pleading in that nature) from Rice that are related to this conviction and sentence unless he pays the applicable docket fees.

         Having duly considered the motion, the Court finds that it should be denied.

         Further, Rice's application for leave to file a motion for post-conviction relief filed May 1, 2018, which is Rice's sixteenth application for leave, should be dismissed for his failing to pay the applicable docket fee.

          IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the "Motion to Rescind Order as Unconstitutional and a Violation of Article 3, Section 25, Mississippi Constitution" is hereby denied.

         IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Application for Leave to Proceed is hereby dismissed for failure to pay the required docket fee.

         SO ORDERED.

          AGREE: WALLER, C.J., RANDOLPH, P.J., COLEMAN, MAXWELL, BEAM, CHAMBERLIN, AND ISHEE, JJ.

          KING, J., OBJECTS TO THE ORDER WITH SEPARATE WRITTEN STATEMENT JOINED BY KITCHENS, P.J.

          KING, JUSTICE, OBJECTING TO THE ORDER WITH SEPARATE WRITTEN STATEMENT:

         ¶1. Today, this Court prioritizes efficiency over justice and bars David Lee Rice from its doors. On October 23, 2017, this Court found that Rice, an indigent defendant, had filed a frivolous petition for post-conviction relief and sanctioned Rice in the amount of $2, 000. The Court then restricted Rice from filing further petitions for post-conviction relief until Rice paid all outstanding sanctions. Rice now moves this Court to rescind its previous order. Because the imposition of monetary sanctions against indigent defendants and the restriction of access to the court system serve only to punish those defendants and to violate rights guaranteed by the United States and Mississippi Constitutions, I strongly oppose this Court's order denying Rice's motion to rescind this Court's October 23, 2017, order.

         ¶2. This Court seems to tire of reading motions that it deems "frivolous" and imposes monetary sanctions on indigent defendants. The Court then bars those defendants, who in all likelihood are unable to pay the imposed sanctions, from future filings. In choosing to prioritize efficiency over justice, this Court forgets the oath that each justice took before assuming office. That oath stated in relevant part, "I . . . solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich. . . ." The Court ordered Rice, an indigent defendant, to pay a $2, 000 sanction. The Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution provides that "excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted." U.S. Const. amend. VIII. Surely a $2, 000 sanction imposed against an indigent defendant meets the definition of an excessive fine.

         ¶3. Yet even more concerning than the imposition of monetary sanctions on indigent defendants is this Court's decision to restrict Rice from filing subsequent applications for post-conviction collateral relief. Article 3, section 25, of the Mississippi Constitution provides that "no person shall be debarred from prosecuting or defending any civil cause for or against him or herself, before any tribunal in the state, by him or herself, or counsel, or both." Miss. Const. art. 3, § 26 (emphasis added). Pursuant to Mississippi Code Section 99-39-7, actions under the Uniform Post-Conviction Collateral Relief Act are civil ...


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