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Strickland v. State

Supreme Court of Mississippi

July 31, 2019

GEORGE J. STRICKLAND A/K/A GEORGE STRICKLAND A/K/A GEORGE JACKSON STRICKLAND Petitioner
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI Respondent

          EN BANC ORDER

          JAMES D. MAXWELL II, JUSTICE

         Before the Court is the Motion for Post Conviction Collateral Relief filed pro se by George J. Strickland. Strickland's conviction and sentence were affirmed on direct appeal, and the mandate issued on August 30, 2016. Strickland v. State, 192 So.3d 1105 (Miss. Ct. App. 2016). This is Strickland's second application for leave, and it is barred as a successive application. Miss. Code Ann. § 99-39-27(9) (Rev. 2015). The Court finds that Strickland has presented no arguable basis for his claims, that no exception to the procedural bar exists, and that the petition should be denied. See Means v. State, 43 So.3d 438, 442 (Miss. 2010). Notwithstanding the procedural bar, the Court finds that Strickland's claims are without merit.

         The Court also finds that the successive application for leave is frivolous. Strickland is 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 Motion for Post-Conviction Collateral Relief filed pro se by George J. Strickland is hereby denied.

         SO ORDERED

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

          TO DENY: COLEMAN, J.

          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.; COLEMAN, J., JOINS IN PART.

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

         ¶1. Although George J. Strickland'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, Strickland made reasonable arguments that the evidence presented was insufficient to support a guilty verdict, that the verdict was against the overwhelming weight of the evidence, that his sentence was disproportionate to the crime charged, and that violations of his constitutional rights required reversal. As such, I disagree with the Court's determination that Strickland'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 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 ...

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