Criminal Appellate Decisions – Supreme Court of Mississippi – 4/20/2023


4/20/2023 – Hand Down List and Published Opinions

Troy Anthony Eaton v. State of Mississippi – Second Degree Murder – Following a trial, Eaton was convicted of second-degree murder for the shooting death of Josh Smith and aggravated assault for the shooting of Dale Vick.  On appeal, Eaton argued that the trial court erred by admitting a glass pipe into evidence.  He argued that the absence of any evidence connecting him to the pipe rendered its admission “non-probative, purely inflammatory, and highly prejudicial.”  The Court found that the admission of the pipe was not error and was necessary to present a complete story of the events leading up to the shootings.  In addition, the trial court conducted the proper balancing test prior to its admission to determine that the evidence’s probative value was not substantially outweighed the danger of unfair prejudice.  Eaton also challenged the sufficiency of evidence and the weight and credibility of the evidence.   The Court found no merit in those arguments.  The MSSC affirmed the convictions.

In Re: Mississippi Rules of Criminal Procedure - The Mississippi Supreme Court amended Rule 7.2 of the Mississippi Rules of Criminal Procedure to provide that counsel for criminal defendants, at all stages of a case, shall continue representation until permitted to withdraw.  Previously, Rule 7.2's requirement for a continuing duty of representation only applied after indictment.  The rule failed to take into account that most felony cases are initially brought in Municipal Court or Justice Court.  Prior to the rule change, indigent criminal defendants would be appointed a public defender at the initial stages of the case to handle a bond hearing and preliminary hearing, but those appointed lawyers did not have a continuing duty to continue representation until indictment where the Circuit court would then appoint another attorney.  The gap in representation routinely resulted in indigent defendants sitting in county jails for months and in some case years without representation.  The amended rule does not address the long delays in prosecution, but does provide continued representation of indigent defendants for that period between preliminary hearing and indictment.

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