Pontotoc case on high court docket

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

JACKSON – Curtis Wayne Gause’s manslaughter-burglary conviction will be considered by the Mississippi Supreme Court, its appeals docket shows.
Gause, 45, was convicted Dec. 10, 2009, in the stabbing death of Jeffery Swords in the Ecru community.
Circuit Judge Thomas Gardner sentenced him to 30 years in prison.
Gause’s attorney, Jason Shelton of Tupelo, said the appeal is based on alleged trial error about jury selection, jury instructions and the denial of his request to question controversial pathologist, Dr. Steven Hayne.
During his trial, Gause’s attorneys tried to convince the jury that he was a “fool in love,” not a cold-blooded killer when he stabbed Swords five times at the mobile home of his estranged wife, Tracy.
Assistant District Attorney Larry Baker contended it would be difficult to “accidentally” stab someone that many times.
Gause’s appeal is scheduled to be taken up Jan. 4, as a “submitted case,” along with six others. Practically speaking, the court may take up the issues at any time during its first sitting from January through February.
During his trial, Gause said he broke the windows out of Swords’ truck, sliced its tires and then pushed in the home’s front door. Then, he went to the bedroom, where he said he just “snapped” and jumped on Swords, who was in bed with Gause’s wife.
In a second case from the region, oral arguments are set for Feb. 9 in Richard F. Scruggs and SLF Inc. versus Derek A. Wyatt. SLF Inc. is the former Scruggs Law Firm.
Scruggs’ attorneys appealed the judge’s denial of their motion to compel arbitration, and the issue before the Supreme Court is whether to do that or resolve issues in Lafayette County.
This case was filed in Lafayette County in April 2009 by Wyatt, who claimed he was not paid what he was promised for legal work on Katrina lawsuits.
After Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast in 2005, Scruggs formed the Scruggs Katrina Group and enlisted the involvement of several other law firms, including Nutt & McAlister of Ridgeland.
Wyatt’s Lafayette County lawsuit was against Scruggs, Nutt, Meg McAlister, SLF Inc., David Nutt & Associates and others.