OF JUDGMENT: 09/14/2017
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT TRIAL JUDGE: HON. LILLIE BLACKMON
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: LYNN WIRTZ (PRO SE)
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES: SCOTT FLETCHER SLOVER BRUCE M.
At the July 5, 2017 meeting of the Adams County Board of
Supervisors (the Board), Lynn Wirtz asked the Board to take
certain action against his neighbor, Dr. H.W. Barnett.
Specifically, Wirtz asked that the Board request for Dr.
Barnett to explain his removal, beginning in 2008, of timber
and soil from a right of way on Dr. Barnett's property.
Following the Board's refusal to send Dr. Barnett a
letter, Wirtz, acting pro se, filed a bill of exceptions in
the Adams County Circuit Court on July 14, 2017. Wirtz named
both the Board and Dr. Barnett as defendants in the
proceeding. The Board and Dr. Barnett filed separate motions
to dismiss. After a hearing on the parties' various
motions and filings, the circuit court dismissed Dr. Barnett
from the proceedings for lack of personal and subject-matter
jurisdiction. The circuit court further dismissed Wirtz's
appeal against the Board for lack of subject-matter
On appeal to this Court, Wirtz raises various assignments of
error, which we restate as follows: (1) the circuit court
erred by dismissing Dr. Barnett from the proceedings; (2) the
circuit court erred by awarding Dr. Barnett attorney's
fees and by holding Wirtz in contempt for failing to pay the
fees; and (3) the circuit court erred by dismissing
Wirtz's appeal against the Board.
Upon review, we affirm the circuit court's dismissal of
Dr. Barnett from the proceedings for lack of personal and
subject-matter jurisdiction. We also affirm the dismissal of
Wirtz's appeal against the Board, though we do so on the
ground that Wirtz's refusal to include the Board's
meeting minutes in his bill of exceptions provided an
insufficient record upon which the circuit court could not
intelligently act. See Stroud v. Progressive Gulf
Ins., 239 So.3d 516, 526 (¶31) (Miss. Ct. App.
2017) ("This Court may affirm a circuit court if the
correct result is reached, even if the circuit court reached
the correct result for the wrong reasons." (internal
quotation mark omitted)). We do, however, vacate the circuit
court's award of attorney's fees to Dr. Barnett and
remand for further consideration consistent with this
opinion. As a related matter, we find our disposition on the
issue of attorney's fees now renders Wirtz's argument
moot regarding the circuit court's order of contempt.
According to Wirtz's bill of exceptions, Dr. Barnett
began in 2008 to remove timber and soil from a right of way
located on Dr. Barnett's property. Taking issue with Dr.
Barnett's actions, Wirtz stated in his bill of exceptions
that he first presented the matter to the Board at the
Board's June 13, 2008 meeting. Wirtz further stated,
however, that the Board failed to take action and thereafter
refused his requests to reconsider its decision or to meet to
discuss the matter.
Almost nine years later, at the Board's July 5, 2017
meeting, Wirtz asked the Board to send Dr. Barnett a letter
that requested an explanation for Dr. Barnett's removal
of the soil and timber. After the Board failed to grant his
request, Wirtz filed his bill of exceptions, signed by the
Board's president, and sought judicial review of the
Board's decision. The Board submitted proposed
corrections to the bill of exceptions and requested that
Wirtz amend it to include certain additional facts and
documents, including a copy of the minutes from the
Board's July 5, 2017 meeting. Following Wirtz's
refusal to amend his bill of exceptions, the Board sought to
dismiss Wirtz's appeal for lack of subject-matter
jurisdiction. According to the Board, Wirtz's omission of
pertinent facts and documents created a fatally defective
record upon which the circuit court could not intelligently
act. The Board argued dismissal under Mississippi Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and Mississippi Code Annotated
section 11-51-75 (Rev. 2012) was therefore proper.
Several days later, Dr. Barnett filed his own motion to
dismiss. Although Wirtz sought judicial review of the
Board's decision, he had named Dr. Barnett as one of the
defendants on appeal. Dr. Barnett contended, however, that
though his actions were the subject of Wirtz's complaint
before the Board, he was never actually a party to those
proceedings. As a result, Dr. Barnett argued Wirtz improperly
added him as a party to the appeal of the Board's
decision. Dr. Barnett asked the circuit court to dismiss him
for lack of personal and subject-matter jurisdiction. Based
on the Mississippi Litigation Accountability Act, he also
requested attorney's fees for the costs he incurred in
defending himself against Wirtz's bill of exceptions.
On September 14, 2017, the circuit court held a hearing on
the parties' various motions. The circuit court issued a
bench ruling in which it dismissed Dr. Barnett from the
proceedings and awarded him $1, 000 in attorney's fees.
Turning next to the Board's motions, the circuit court
granted both the Board's motion to dismiss and its motion
to strike certain allegations Wirtz made in his bill of
On the same day as the hearing, the circuit court entered its
final judgment on Dr. Barnett's motion to dismiss. In the
final judgment, the circuit court reiterated its bench ruling
and found it possessed neither personal nor subject-matter
jurisdiction over Dr. Barnett. As a result, the circuit court
dismissed Dr. Barnett from the proceedings. In addition, the
circuit court ordered Wirtz to pay Dr. Barnett $1, 000 for
the attorney's fees Dr. Barnett incurred in defending
against the proceedings related to Wirtz's bill of
exceptions. The circuit court stated that its decision to
dismiss Dr. Barnett from the appeal disposed of all claims
and issues between Wirtz and Dr. Barnett and that the
decision was therefore a final judgment from which Wirtz
On September 22, 2017, Wirtz filed a "Request for
Findings of Fact and Law" pursuant to Mississippi Rule
of Civil Procedure 52 and a "Motion for Rehearing"
pursuant to Mississippi Rule of Civil Procedure 59 (Rule 52
and Rule 59 motions). Wirtz challenged the circuit
court's September 14, 2017 bench rulings to dismiss Dr.
Barnett from the proceedings and to dismiss Wirtz's
appeal against the Board. Pursuant to Rule 52, Wirtz asked
the circuit court to "issue written findings of fact and
law for its rulings made in open court on September 14, 2017
. . . ." Further, pursuant to Rule 59, Wirtz asked the
circuit court to "vacate its rulings made in open
[c]ourt on 9/14/17" and "amend its judgment in
conformity with the law and evidence . . . ."
On October 31, 2017, the circuit court entered its order
granting the Board's motion to dismiss. As in its prior
bench ruling, the circuit court found the minutes from the
Board's July 5, 2017 meeting, which Wirtz had refused to
include in an amended bill of exceptions, were necessary to
reach an intelligent decision on the matter. Based on this
finding, the circuit court dismissed Wirtz's appeal
against the Board for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.
On November 6, 2017, Dr. Barnett filed a motion for citation
of contempt against Wirtz. According to the motion, Wirtz had
failed to comply with the circuit court's prior order to
pay Dr. Barnett $1, 000 for attorney's fees. Wirtz
responded to Dr. Barnett's motion on ...