CHARLES L. KUEBLER
HINDS COUNTY SHERIFF, VICTOR MASON
OF JUDGMENT: 02/20/2018
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. WINSTON L. KIDD TRIAL JUDGE.
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: RONNIE MUSGROVE MICHAEL S. SMITH, II
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: CLAIRE BARKER
RANDOLPH, C.J., ISHEE AND GRIFFIS, JJ.
Charles L. Kuebler appeals the denial of his petition for
writ of habeas corpus. In his petition, Kuebler alleged that
the employees of the Jackson Detention Center
("JDC") confiscated and photocopied his legal work,
refused to let him meet with his attorneys, and eavesdropped
on confidential attorney-client conversations. The circuit
court found that Kuebler had not presented sufficient proof
to support claims of violations of his constitutional rights
and found no merit to the claims. After reviewing
Kuebler's petition and the evidence presented, we find
that the circuit court did not err in denying the petition.
In 2011, Kuebler was convicted of murder. His conviction was
reversed and remanded for a new trial. See Kuebler v.
State, 204 So.3d 1220 (Miss. 2016).
Kuebler was then transferred to the JDC, where he has been
held without bond awaiting retrial. He has actively
participated in the preparation of his defense. His trial
preparation included regular meetings with his attorneys and
the creation of documents, which he contends contained
confidential information and work-product information.
Kuebler's problems with the JDC staff allegedly began on
December 20, 2017, when JDC officers Lieutenant Gloria Petty
and Sergeant Angela Robinson conducted a search of
Kuebler's cell. As a result of the search, Lieutenant
Petty and Sergeant Robinson found white-out, a spiral
notebook, and an ink pen. Each of these items was considered
contraband. They also found voluminous papers stored under
the bed in three unauthorized laundry bags. The JDC Inmate
Handbook allows inmates to keep legal papers in their cell,
but it also states that the floor of an inmate's cell
must be kept clear at all times, except for authorized items.
Lieutenant Petty testified that the amount of papers in the
cell created a fire hazard. Additionally, many of the
documents had been stapled together, and staples were
Kuebler was not present for the search. When Kuebler returned
to his cell, he claims that Lieutenant Petty and Sergeant
Robinson removed or confiscated his legal papers, including
documents such as motions, hearing and trial transcripts,
attorney-client correspondence, strategy documents, private
investigator notes, and more. Lieutenant Petty instructed
Kuebler to pack the majority of the papers into boxes, which
would be stored in the property room, available for him to
access on an item-by-item basis. The papers also were made
available for Kuebler's attorneys to pick up at his
request. Kuebler testified the conversation with Lieutenant
Petty took place in a JDC office several hours after the
papers were initially removed from his cell.
Five boxes of legal papers were packed up by Kuebler and were
placed in the property room. The boxes remained there for
approximately twenty-four hours until they were picked up by
Michael Smith, one of Kuebler's attorneys, on December
21, 2017. Smith inventoried the boxes and observed that
staples had been removed from some, but not all, documents.
There was testimony that the JDC staff did not read the
documents, photocopy the documents, or discuss the contents
of the boxes with anyone.
Between December 2016 and January 2018, Kuebler's
attorneys visited him approximately seventy-five times,
according to Kuebler's attorney Thomas Fortner. On
Sunday, December 24, 2017, Smith arrived at the JDC for a
visit but was told that visits were not allowed that day and
would resume on Wednesday, December 27, 2017. Smith returned
on December 27, 2017, to visit Kuebler.
Kuebler claims that his right to effective assistance of
counsel was impeded. During regular business hours, the JDC
allows attorney visits to be conducted on the second floor of
the JDC in private rooms. The rooms are monitored and secured
from a central control room, referred to as the tower. After
business hours, the second floor of the JDC is closed. and a
room on the first floor of the JDC is available for attorneys
to conduct inmate visits. The room on the first floor does
not have a door; however, it is located down an empty hallway
where staff traffic is light after hours. A guard is posted
in the hallway to ensure security.
During the December 27 inmate visit, Smith and Kuebler were
allowed to meet in the first-floor room. Smith stated that
the presence of a guard outside the room caused the meeting
to be cut short due to their concern of a lack of privacy.
According to Smith and Fortner, this had occurred before. On
December 18, 2017, ...