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Edwards v. State

Supreme Court of Mississippi

March 14, 2019

DONALD MARK EDWARDS Petitioner
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI Respondent

          ORDER

          JAMES D. MAXWELL II, JUSTICE

         The instant matter is before the Court en banc on Donald Mark Edwards's pro se Petition for Writ of Certiorari, which is in the nature of a petition for post-conviction relief and will be treated as such, filed on November 15, 2018. Edwards was convicted of possession of a Schedule II controlled substance and was sentenced, as a habitual offender, to life without parole in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Edwards appealed his sentence, claiming that the State did not prove his habitual-offender status and that his sentence was disproportionate. The Court of Appeals affirmed on direct appeal. Edwards v. State, 75 So.3d 73 (Miss. Ct. App. 2011).

         After due consideration, the Court finds that Edwards's petition is subject to the time bar. Miss. Code Ann. § 99-39-5 (Rev. 2015). Further, Edwards has had two prior petitions for post-conviction relief denied by the Court on February 27, 2015, and May 16, 2018. Therefore, the instant petition is also successive. Miss. Code Ann. § 99-39-27 (Rev. 2015).

         Among other issues, Edwards challenges the legality of his sentence and claims ineffective assistance of counsel, which are recognized exceptions to the procedural bars, but "[t]here must at least appear to be some basis for the truth of the claim before the [procedural bar] will be waived." Means v. State, 43 So.3d 438, 442 (Miss. 2010). The Court finds that Edwards has not presented an arguable basis for his claims. Edwards fails to meet any exception to the time bar or the bar against successive applications.

         Lastly, in its May 16, 2018, order, the Court warned Edwards that future filings that are deemed frivolous may result in sanctions, including monetary sanctions or restrictions on filing applications for post-conviction relief (or pleadings in that nature) in forma pauperis. The Court finds that the instant filing is frivolous. Therefore, Edwards should be restricted from filing further petitions for post-conviction relief (or pleadings in that nature) in forma pauperis that are related to this conviction and sentence.

         IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the Petition for Writ of Certiorari, which is in the nature of a petition for post-conviction relief and will be treated as such, filed pro se by Donald Mark Edwards is denied.

         IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Donald Mark Edwards is hereby restricted from filing further petitions for post-conviction relief (or pleadings in that nature) that are related to this conviction and sentence in forma pauperis.

         The Clerk of this Court shall not accept for filing any further petitions for post-conviction relief (or pleadings in that nature) in forma pauperis from Edwards that are related to this conviction and sentence. See Order, Walton v. State, 2009-M-00329 (Miss. April 12, 2018). SO ORDERED, this the 7th day of March, 2019.

          TO DENY AND ISSUE SANCTIONS: RANDOLPH, C.J., COLEMAN, MAXWELL, BEAM, AND GRIFFIS, JJ.

          TO DISMISS AND ISSUE SANCTIONS: CHAMBERLIN AND ISHEE, JJ.

          TO DENY: KITCHENS AND KING, P.JJ.

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

         ¶1. Today, this Court prioritizes efficiency over justice and bars Donald Mark Edwards from its doors. 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 restricting Edwards from filing further petitions for post-conviction collateral relief in forma pauperis.

         ¶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. . . ." Edwards has filed a mere two prior petitions for post-conviction relief since 2011. Yet this Court now deems the frequency of Edwards's filing to be too onerous a burden and decides to restrict Edwards from filing subsequent applications for post-conviction collateral relief. See In re McDonald, 489 U.S. 180, 186-87, 109 S.Ct. 993, 997, 103 L.Ed.2d 158 (1989) ...


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