Miss. Appeals Court on the road in new term

By Jack Elliott Jr./The Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The state Court of Appeals will be on the road Tuesday at Jones County Junior College where a three-judge panel will hear arguments in two cases on the Ellisville campus.

Judge Joseph Lee, the court’s chief judge, said it will be the first time the “Court on the Road” program has stopped on a Mississippi community college campus.

Lee said the program will make another stop on Oct. 9 at Mississippi Valley State University in Itta Bena to hear arguments in two cases.

The cases are among dozens the court will take up during its September-October term.

The Appeals Court and the Mississippi Supreme Court periodically schedule oral arguments on college campuses — and occasionally at other locations — as a teaching tool for students.

A panel of three Appeals Court judges will answer questions from students after the oral arguments, but will not talk about the cases that were argued.

In April, an Appeals Court panel heard arguments in two cases at the University of Mississippi.

Lee said the court expects “about 400 students for oral arguments in the two sessions.”

Lee said the judges and students enjoy the sessions — which now number five or six a year.

“It’s an educational process and at the time thoroughly enjoyable. This is a chance to see a real court and be a part of it. Nothing is made up or prepared. This is real,” he said.

Lee said the Appeals Court spends much of its time in Jackson handling cases with few opportunities to get around the state.

“We’re not like the trial judges who are out there with the people, the lawyers, the juries and witnesses. We read cold records and study the law,” he said.

“What these sessions offer us is a change to get in touch with the people and give us the opportunity to educate the people about what we deal with … that we try our best to apply the law to the facts of the case,” Lee said.

At Jones Junior College, a three-judge Appeals Court panel will hear a medical malpractice case from Scott County and a statutory rape case from Lowndes County.

In the latter case, Tony Jennings is appealing his 2011 conviction for statutory rape. He was sentenced in Lowndes County Circuit Court to 15 years in prison with five years suspended.

Prosecutors said Jennings raped a 13-year-old girl in 2010.

On Oct. 9 at Mississippi Valley State in Itta Bena, the court will hear arguments in two criminal cases.

In a Madison County case, Joseph Reith is appealing his murder conviction and life sentence for the 2010 killing of his estranged wife.

Prosecutors said Reith lured Tammy Reith to an apartment in Canton on March 23, 2010, saying she could play with their son. Instead, he killed her. Their son was not at the apartment.

Reith was convicted in 2011.

In the other case, Stanley McGlaston is appealing his five-year sentence for uttering forgery from Jasper County. Uttering forgery is the passing of a stolen check with a forged signature.