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Rowsey v. Fisher

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

August 13, 2019

JAMES ROBERT ROWSEY A/K/A JAMES R. ROWSEY A/K/A JAMES ROWSEY APPELLANT
v.
MDOC COMMISSIONER MARSHALL FISHER, MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, AND STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEES

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 05/24/2017

          SUNFLOWER COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. MARGARET CAREY-McCRAY TRIAL JUDGE

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: JAMES ROBERT ROWSEY (PRO SE)

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEES: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: DARRELL CLAYTON BAUGHN

          BEFORE J. WILSON, P.J., WESTBROOKS AND TINDELL, JJ.

          WESTBROOKS, J.

         ¶1. James Robert Rowsey, appearing pro se, asserts that the Sunflower County Circuit Court improperly denied his grievance filed through the Mississippi Department of Correction's (MDOC) Administrative Remedy Program (ARP). Rowsey filed a "Statement of Facts and Legal Issues Before the Court seeking reconsideration," which the circuit court treated as a motion for reconsideration and denied. After careful review of the record, we affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. In 2010, Rowsey was imprisoned at the South Mississippi Correctional Institution in Leakesville, serving a life sentence for murder. While imprisoned, Rowsey placed two cups of water in a microwave and dumped the hot water on another inmate's head. Rowsey was convicted of aggravated assault and sentenced to ten years to run consecutively to his life sentence. Rowsey appealed this conviction; however, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed. Rowsey v. State, 188 So.3d 486, 500 (¶53) (Miss. 2015).

         ¶3. In September 2015, Rowsey's housing unit was searched and contraband was confiscated. Rowsey asserts that during this "shakedown" thirty-nine of his religious books were confiscated while he was attending seminary college. As a result, Rowsey filed a grievance through MDOC's ARP program, MSP-15-1972, claiming that MDOC conducted an illegal "shakedown" when he was not present. MDOC's investigation revealed that each offender was present during the shakedown.

         ¶4. In October 2015, Warden Sonija Stanciel conducted an investigation and determined that no books had been taken from Rowsey's cell. MDOC Chaplin Willie Bays indicated that Rowsey was not in any active courses through MDOC's Chaplin Department-even though he purported that he was. In December 2015, Rowsey's grievance was still pending according to the MDOC.

         ¶5. In January 2016, prior to exhausting his administrative remedies, Rowsey filed an application for judicial review because MDOC's response was untimely. In February 2016, the MDOC issued its First Step Response Form finding Rowsey's claims without merit. In April 2016, Rowsey signed for the Step Two ARP response. MDOC issued a Second Step Response stating that (1) there was no evidence that any books were taken from him, (2) inmates were only allowed five books and one "Bible/Koran," and (3) there was no proof that Rowsey had ever purchased any of the books or had the books in his possession. Rowsey also admits to being in violation of MDOC policies by possessing more than five books. MDOC also noted that Rowsey was eligible to seek judicial review within thirty days of the receipt of the Second Step Response.

         ¶6. In March 7, 2017, Rowsey filed what the Mississippi Supreme Court treated as a petition for a writ of mandamus.[1] On May 24, 2017, the circuit court responded to the writ and issued an order denying and dismissing the motion for judicial review on the same day. In the order, the circuit court acknowledged that Rowsey was correct that MDOC failed to timely process his submission in accordance with its own standard operating procedure. Nevertheless, the circuit court upheld MDOC's ARP ruling and denied Rowsey's application for judicial review.

         ¶7. On June 30, 2017, Rowsey filed a statement of facts and legal conclusions seeking reconsideration of the circuit court's May 24, 2017 order. In October 2017, Rowsey filed another petition stating that the circuit court failed to answer his last five-page submission. On November 27, 2017, the circuit court denied Rowsey's motion for reconsideration. In December 2017, the Mississippi Supreme Court dismissed Rowsey's motion filed in October 2017 as moot, because the circuit court had issued an order denying ...


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