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Brown v. State

Supreme Court of Mississippi, En Banc

January 15, 2020

FREDDIE BROWN Petitioner
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI Respondent

          ORDER

          JOSIAH DENNIS COLEMAN, JUSTICE.

         Now before the Court, en banc, is the Application for Leave to Proceed in the Trial Court with Motion for Post-Conviction Collateral Relief filed pro se by Freddie Brown. Brown's conviction and life sentence as a habitual offender were affirmed on direct appeal on April 15, 1992. Brown v. State, 597 So.2d 647 (Miss. 1992). This filing is Brown's eighth application for leave since that time. The Court finds that the application is barred by time and as a successive application for leave, and it does not meet any of the exceptions. Miss. Code Ann. §§ 99-39-5(2), 99-39-27(9) (Rev. 2015). Notwithstanding the procedural bars, Brown's claim is without merit. Accordingly, the application for leave should be denied.

         By the Court's previous order, Brown was 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, Brown v. State, No. 2019-M-00875 (Miss. Aug. 8, 2019). We find that this filing is frivolous and that Brown should be restricted from filing further applications for post-conviction collateral relief (or pleadings in that nature) that are related to this conviction and sentence in forma pauperis. See En Banc Order, Dunn v. State, No. 2016-M-01514 (Miss. April 11, 2019).

         IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the Application for Leave to Proceed in the Trial Court with Motion for Post-Conviction Collateral Relief is denied.

         IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Freddie Brown is hereby restricted from filing further applications for post-conviction collateral relief (or pleadings in that nature) that are related to this conviction and sentence in forma pauperis. The Clerk of this Court shall not accept for filing any further applications for post-conviction collateral relief (or pleadings in that nature) from Brown that are related to this conviction and sentence unless he pays the applicable docket fee.

         SO ORDERED.

          FOR THE COURT TO DENY AND SANCTION: RANDOLPH, C.J., COLEMAN, MAXWELL, BEAM, CHAMBERLIN, ISHEE AND GRIFFIS, JJ.

          TO DENY: KITCHENS AND KING, P.JJ.

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

         ¶1. Today, this Court prioritizes efficiency over justice and bars Freddie Brown from its doors. Because the imposition of monetary sanctions against indigent defendants and the restriction of access to the court system serve only to punish those defendants and to violate rights guaranteed by the United States and Mississippi Constitutions, I strongly oppose this Court's order restricting Brown from filing further petitions for post-conviction collateral relief in forma pauperis.

         ¶2. This Court seems to tire of reading motions that it deems "frivolous" and imposes monetary sanctions on indigent defendants. The Court then bars those defendants, who in all likelihood are unable to pay the imposed sanctions, from future filings. In choosing to prioritize efficiency over justice, this Court forgets the oath that each justice took before assuming office. That oath stated in relevant part, "I . . . solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich. . . ." Miss. Const. art. 6, § 155. Yet this Court deems the frequency of Brown's filing to be too onerous a burden and decides to restrict Brown from filing subsequent applications for post-conviction collateral relief. See In re McDonald, 489 U.S. 180, 186-87, 109 S.Ct. 993, 997, 103 L.Ed.2d 158 (1989) (Brennan, J., dissenting) ("I continue to find puzzling the Court's fervor in ensuring that rights granted to the poor are not abused, even when so doing actually increases the drain on our limited resources.").

         ¶3. Article 3, section 25, of the Mississippi Constitution provides that "no person shall be debarred from prosecuting or defending any civil cause for or against him or herself, before any tribunal in the state, by him or herself, or counsel, or both." Miss. Const. art. 3, § 26 (emphasis added). Mississippi Code Section 99-39-7 provides that actions under the Uniform Post-Conviction Collateral Relief Act are civil actions. Miss. Code Ann. § 99-39-7 (Rev. 2015). Therefore, this State's Constitution grants unfettered access in civil causes to any tribunal in the State. The Court's decision to deny Brown's filing actions in forma pauperis is a violation of his State constitutional right to access to the courts.

         ¶4. The decision to cut off an indigent defendant's right to proceed in forma pauperis is also a violation of that defendant's fundamental right to vindicate his constitutional rights, for

Among the rights recognized by the Court as being fundamental are the rights to be free from invidious racial discrimination, to marry, to practice their religion, to communicate with free persons, to have due process in disciplinary proceedings, and to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. As a result of the recognition of these and other rights, the right of access to courts, ...

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