OF JUDGMENT: 09/17/2018
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. WILLIAM E. CHAPMAN III TRIAL JUDGE
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: MACKENZIE WILLIS (PRO SE)
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEES: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY:
DARRELL CLAYTON BAUGHN
BARNES, C.J., GREENLEE AND LAWRENCE, JJ.
MacKenzie Willis is an inmate in the custody of the
Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC), serving
concurrent sentences of fifteen years and twenty years for
the unlawful touching of a child and statutory rape,
respectively. After the Rankin County Circuit Court
denied his requested relief and dismissed his complaint
related to an MDOC decision in its Administrative Remedy
Program (ARP), Willis appealed the judgment. Finding no
error, we affirm the court's dismissal.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
On September 12, 2016, the MDOC issued a rules violation
report (RVR) against Willis for possession of a contraband
cell phone and battery. A disciplinary hearing was held, and
the MDOC's hearing officer, Lieutenant Latisha Brooks,
found Willis guilty of the violation and sentenced him to a
loss of privileges for eighteen months. Willis appealed the
decision through the ARP on October 12. MDOC Warden Wendell
Banks denied the appeal, finding Willis had not submitted any
new evidence or information and had received a fair and
impartial hearing. Willis acknowledged the decision by
signing a step-one response form on November 10.
On December 9, 2016, Willis filed a complaint for judicial
review with the circuit court, alleging that his due-process
rights had been violated. The court dismissed his claim for lack
of jurisdiction, and he filed an appeal with this Court. We
reversed and remanded, finding the circuit court had
subject-matter jurisdiction because Willis had exhausted his
administrative remedies and had filed his complaint within
the thirty-day period required under Mississippi Code
Annotated sections 47-5-803 and 47-5-807 (Rev. 2015).
Willis v. Westley, 243 So.3d 805, 809 (¶15)
(Miss. Ct. App. 2018).
On August 7, 2018, Willis filed a petition for a writ of
mandamus with the Court of Appeals, requesting "an
expedient ruling" by the circuit court. This Court
ordered the circuit court to respond to the petition within
thirty days. The circuit court, in turn, ordered the MDOC to
file a response to the merits of Willis's claims with the
court. The MDOC moved to quash the summons and to dismiss the
complaint, arguing that Willis had failed to provide the MDOC
with service of process through the Attorney General's
Office as required by Mississippi Rule of Civil Procedure
4(d)(5) and that the MDOC had not made a general appearance.
On September 17, 2018, the circuit court denied the requested
relief and dismissed Willis's complaint, finding the
MDOC's decision "was supported by substantial
evidence, was not arbitrary or capricious, was within the
scope and powers of the MDOC and did not violate the
constitutional rights of the petitioner." Appealing the
circuit court's judgment, Willis claims that the RVR form
was incomplete (i.e., that the RVR did not contain the
location of the incident) and that his right to due process
We "will not disturb an administrative agency's
decision on appeal 'unless the decision was unsupported
by substantial evidence, was arbitrary or capricious, was
beyond the agency's scope or powers or violated the
constitutional or statutory rights of the aggrieved
party.'" Fields v. Ladner, 226 So.3d 599,
601 (¶5) (Miss. Ct. App. 2017) (quoting Siggers v.
Epps, 962 So.2d 78, 80 (¶4) (Miss. Ct. App. 2007)).
"There is a rebuttable presumption [that] favors the
agency's decision, and the challenging party has the
burden of proving the contrary." Goul v. Miss.
Dep't of Corr., 210 So.3d 560, 562 (¶9) (Miss.
Ct. App. 2017) (quoting Ross v. ...