Court to hear cases at Ole Miss

news_court_greenBy Jack Elliott Jr.

Associated Press

JACKSON – Law school students at the University of Mississippi will represent defendants in oral arguments in April when the state Court of Appeals comes to the Oxford campus.

The Appeals Court periodically schedules oral arguments on college campuses — and occasionally at other locations — as a teaching tool for students. It is known as the “Court on the Road” program. A panel of three Appeals Court judges will answer questions from Ole Miss students after the oral arguments but will not talk about the cases argued.

The cases are among dozens the Appeals Court will consider during its March-April term. Decisions are expected later.

Teams of students from the Ole Miss’ Criminal Appeals Clinic will represent the defendants. The Mississippi attorney general’s office represents the state.

Third-year Ole Miss law students participating in the Criminal Appeals Clinic have represented indigent defendants in appeals since the National Center for Justice and the Rule of Law was created at the law school in 2002. Students have been involved in more than three dozen appeals.

Usually, the Appeals Court schedules a criminal case and a civil case when it goes on the road. That is true for the April 22 visit to Ole Miss.

In the civil case, scheduled for 1 p.m. at the Khayat Law Center, the panel will hear arguments in a Lincoln County decision from 2012 in which a jury awarded $383,000 to Teresa Beasley.

In her lawsuit, Beasley contended she located her nail business in a salon owned by Robert and Beverly Lang in 2006. Beasley alleged that a few months later she was assaulted by Robert Lang.

Beasley said she closed the business but the Langs refused to return property to her. Beasley sued the Langs.

The jury awarded Beasley $103,000 from Robert Lang for battery and $35,000 against Beverly Lang for conversion — the wrongful taking of someone’s property. The jury also awarded $200,000 in punitive damages against Robert Lang and $45,000 in punitive damages against Beverly Lang.

The Langs appealed the decision.

In the second case, a Jackson man who led Ridgeland police officers on a high-speed chase into Flowood that resulted in a fatality in 2012 is seeking a new trial.

A Rankin County jury convicted Robert Williams in 2013 of felony evasion causing death. He was sentenced as a habitual offender to serve the maximum term of 40 years without possibility of parole.

Authorities said during the chase Williams ran into another car at the intersection of Mississippi Highway 25 and Grants Ferry Road in Flowood, killing 37-year-old Milinda Teresa Clark.

Authorities said the chase started after Williams and a female companion stole $600 worth of groceries from Kroger in Ridgeland. Officers attempted to disable Williams’ vehicle with stop sticks several times but were unable to deploy the devices because of his dangerous and erratic driving, Guest said.

Prosecutors said Williams has 12 previous felony convictions in Mississippi and Georgia, including burglary, grand larceny, forgery, uttering forgery, shoplifting, conspiracy to shoplift, possession of cocaine and felony evasion.

In his appeal, Williams argues prosecutors didn’t prove his guilt and jurors should have been given the option of convicting him of a lesser offense.