Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Butler Snow LLP v. Estate of Mayfield

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

June 11, 2019

BUTLER SNOW LLP AND DONALD CLARK JR. APPELLANTS
v.
ESTATE OF MARK STEVENS MAYFIELD, ROBIN MAYFIELD, WILLIAM MAYFIELD, AND OWEN MAYFIELD APPELLEES

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 03/12/2018

          HINDS COUNTY CHANCERY COURT, FIRST JUDICIAL DISTRICT HON. PATRICIA D. WISE TRIAL JUDGE:

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANTS: ALAN W. PERRY STEPHEN L. THOMAS SIMON TURNER BAILEY

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES: DORSEY R. CARSON JR. JULIE SKIPPER NOONE

          BEFORE BARNES, C.J., TINDELL AND McCARTY, JJ.

          McCARTY, J.

         ¶1. This is a case about discovery-how it is initiated, how it is conducted, and who is privy to it. In the chancery court, a plaintiff sought information pursuant to a bill of discovery. The case was then sealed. The information obtained in the case was used to support a lawsuit against defendants in a separate federal action. The defendants then sought to intervene in the state court case, but the chancery court denied their request.

         ¶2. Finding that the defendants should have been allowed to intervene, we reverse and render. We likewise reverse and render the decision to seal the case, because it was not done in accord with recent Mississippi Supreme Court precedent to conduct a balancing test, and there is nothing in this record warranting a seal.

         BACKGROUND

         ¶3. A federal district court has provided a detailed examination of the facts giving rise to this appeal. See Mayfield v. Butler Snow LLP, 341 F.Supp.3d 664, 666 (S.D.Miss. 2018). It began during the 2014 Senate race between then-incumbent and the late United States Senator Thad Cochran, and a challenger, State Senator Chris McDaniel. Certain supporters of Senator McDaniel, not directly affiliated with his campaign, were convinced that Senator Cochran was straying from his marriage of many years to Mrs. Rose Cochran. The supporters developed a plan to "out" Senator Cochran for having an affair. This plan would be supported by "exposing" that Mrs. Cochran was incapacitated and bedridden in a private care home located in Madison, Mississippi.

         ¶4. Individuals gained access to Mrs. Cochran's room in the private care home. They took a video of her and later posted it on YouTube. The video ignited a fire, although not in the way that the devisers of the plan had hoped. The video, and those who were believed to have recorded it or aided in its recording, were reported to various law enforcement agencies in Madison County. Counsel for Senator Cochran, the Butler Snow law firm, "told the Mayor of the City of Madison, Mary Hawkins-Butler, that the incident should be treated criminally, as it was a possible case of exploitation of a vulnerable adult." Id. at 667.

         ¶5. Law enforcement began to investigate, and ultimately arrested four different suspects for a variety of crimes, including burglary and conspiracy. One of the persons arrested was attorney Mark Mayfield. The police executed search warrants on his home and office, and afterward the lawyer lost at least one major client. A little over a month later, he committed suicide.

         ¶6. His family retained lawyers to investigate whether they had claims against Butler Snow, among others. The family's counsel used a tool of investigation called a bill of discovery to seek information about what had happened leading up to the arrest of the men. The family filed two bills of discovery-one in the Hinds County Chancery Court and one in the Madison County Chancery Court.

         ¶7. During oral argument, counsel for Mayfield's family described the receipt of massive amounts of information from the bill of discovery. Several thousand pages of documents were received in response to subpoenas duces tecum issued under the bill ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.