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Burrell v. State

Supreme Court of Mississippi, En Banc

April 25, 2019

FREDDIE DOUG BURRELL Petitioner
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI Respondent

          MICHAEL K. RANDOLPH CHIEF JUSTICE

         Now before the Court, en banc, comes the Application for Leave to Proceed in the Trial Court with Motion for Order to Show Cause and to Vacate Illegal Sentence filed pro se by Freddie Doug Burrell. Burrell's conviction of sale or transfer of a controlled substance, Schedule II (cocaine), within fifteen hundred feet of a school as a habitual offender and sentence of life imprisonment were affirmed on direct appeal. Burrell v. State, 726 So.2d 160 (Miss. 1998). The mandate in that appeal issued on December 3, 1998. Since that time, Burrell has filed numerous applications for leave, and none of them were granted. The instant filing is, at the least, Burrell's sixth application for leave, and it is barred by time and as a successive application, without exception. Miss. Code Ann. §§ 99-39-5(2), 99-39-27(9) (Rev. 2015).

         Additionally, on direct appeal, Burrell specifically challenged the State's evidence of his prior convictions used to prove the habitual offender enhancement. Burrell, 726 So.2d at 162. The Court found no merit to the claim. Id. Accordingly, the issue is also barred by the doctrine of res judicata, and the application for leave should be dismissed. Miss. Code Ann. § 99-39-21(3) (Rev. 2015).

         By order of the Court entered September 17, 2014, Burrell was sanctioned in the amount of $100 after having been previously warned against frivolous, successive filings. The sanction is still outstanding. After due consideration, the Court finds that the instant filing is also frivolous. Burrell is warned that future filings deemed frivolous may result not only in additional monetary sanctions, but also in restrictions on filing applications for post-conviction collateral relief (or pleadings in that nature) in forma pauperis. See Order, Dunn v. State, 2016-M-01514 (Miss. Nov. 15, 2018).

         IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the Application for Leave to Proceed in the Trial Court with Motion for Order to Show Cause and to Vacate Illegal Sentence is hereby denied.

         SO ORDERED.

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

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

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

         ¶1. Although Freddie Doug Burrell's application for post-conviction relief does not merit relief, I disagree with this Court's warning that future filings this Court deems frivolous may result in monetary sanctions or restrictions on filing applications 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. . . ."

         ¶3. I disagree with this Court's warning that future filings may result in additional 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 punishing the defendant for filing a motion, I believe that this Court should simply deny or dismiss motions that lack merit. As Justice Brennan wisely stated,

The Court's order purports to be motivated by this litigant's disproportionate consumption of the Court's time and resources. Yet if his filings are truly as repetitious as it appears, it hardly takes much time to identify them as such. I find it difficult to see how the amount of time and resources required to deal properly with McDonald's petitions could be so great as to justify the step we now take. Indeed, the time that has been consumed in the preparation of the present order barring the door to Mr. McDonald far exceeds that which would have been necessary to process his petitions for the next several years at least. I continue to find puzzling the Court's fervor in ensuring that rights granted to the poor are not abused, even when so doing actually increases the drain on our limited resources.

In re McDonald, 489 U.S. 180, 186-87, 109 S.Ct. 993, 997, 103 L.Ed.2d 158 (1989) (Brennan, J., ...


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