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Stevenson v. State

Supreme Court of Mississippi

April 4, 2019

JOSEPH STEVENSON Petitioner
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI Respondent

          EN BANC ORDER

          DAWN H. BEAM, JUSTICE.

         Now before the Court, en banc, comes the application for leave to file a motion for post-conviction relief filed pro se by Joseph Stevenson. Stevenson's conviction of statutory rape and sentence of life in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections was affirmed on direct appeal. Stevenson v. State, 13 So.3d 314 (Miss. Ct. App. 2008). This Court denied Stevenson's petition for writ of certiorari, and the mandate issued on August 20, 2009. Stevenson v. State, 14 So.3d 731 (Miss. 2009).

         This is Stevenson's third application for leave to pursue post-conviction relief in the trial court. The first was dismissed as time-barred on June 2, 2015. The second was dismissed as time-barred and successive, without exception, on June 15, 2017. Likewise, the instant application for leave is time-barred and successive, and it is not within any of the statutory exceptions. Miss. Code Ann. §§ 99-39-5(2), 99-39-27(9) (Rev. 2015). Notwithstanding these bars, Stevenson's claims are without merit. Accordingly, the Court finds that the application for leave should be dismissed.

         The Court also finds that this filing is frivolous. Stevenson is hereby warned that future filings deemed frivolous may result not only in monetary sanctions, but also in restrictions on filing applications for post-conviction collateral relief (or pleadings in that nature) in forma pauperis. Order, Dunn v. State, 2016-M-01514 (Miss. Nov. 15, 2018).

         IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus is hereby dismissed as time-barred and as a successive application.

         SO ORDERED.

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

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

          TO DISMISS: KITCHENS AND KING, P.JJ.

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

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

         ¶1. Although Joseph Stevenson's application for post-conviction relief does not merit relief, I disagree with the Court's finding that the application is frivolous and with the warning that future filings deemed frivolous may result in monetary sanctions or restrictions on filing applications for post-conviction collateral relief in forma pauperis.[1]

         ¶2. This Court previously has defined a frivolous motion to mean one filed in which the movant has "no hope of success." Roland v. State, 666 So.2d 747, 751 (Miss. 1995). However, "though a case may be weak or 'light-headed,' that is not sufficient to label it frivolous." Calhoun v. State, 849 So.2d 892, 897 (Miss. 2003). In his application for post-conviction relief, Stevenson made a reasonable argument that his sentence was illegal. As such, I disagree with the Court's determination that Stevenson's application is frivolous.

         ¶3. Additionally, I disagree with this Court's warning that future filings may result in monetary sanctions or restrictions on filing applications for post-conviction collateral relief in forma pauperis. The imposition of monetary sanctions upon a criminal defendant proceeding in forma pauperis only serves to punish or preclude that defendant from his lawful right to appeal. Black's Law Dictionary defines sanction as "[a] provision that gives force to a legal imperative by either rewarding obedience or punishing disobedience." Sanction, Black's Law Dictionary (10th ed. 2014) (emphasis added). Instead of ...


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