Mississippi Court of Appeals to hear oral arguments at MSU Nov. 16

Contact: Sasha Steinberg

STARKVILLE, Miss.—The Mississippi Court of Appeals will convene on the campus of Mississippi State University Wednesday [Nov. 16] to hear criminal and civil appeals.

Oral arguments are scheduled for 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. at the university’s Hunter Henry Center.

A three-judge panel will hold court on the Starkville campus as part of its Court on the Road educational program for students and the public. Throughout the year, the Jackson-based court hears a few cases on college campuses around the state. The court visits MSU each fall.

The Court on the Road program helps educate students and the public about appeals court proceedings and gives appellate judges an opportunity to answer questions about how the court operates. Judges talk with students after the oral arguments, but not about the pending cases.

Having an opportunity to see the court at work provides a valuable learning experience for students with an interest in law careers, as well as those who want to better understand how each branch of government functions.

Whit Waide, MSU clinical assistant professor in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration, said Court of Appeals proceedings are popular events among MSU students.

“When Mississippi State hosts the Court of Appeals, we have standing room only. Hundreds of students come to see the Court in action, and I am always amazed the next day in class by the questions I get about the proceedings,” Waide said.

Waide said MSU students always are eager for real-world experiences that complement what they are learning in the classroom.

“Mississippi State very much appreciates the Court of Appeals’ willingness to bring this experience to our students,” Waide said.

Law students from the University of Mississippi School of Law Criminal Appeals Clinic represent the appellant in one of the cases set for oral arguments. Law students Darian Etienne of Harrisburg, Illinois, and Adreain Reynolds of Bruce will present oral arguments at 1:30 p.m. on behalf of Andrew Acie Adams. Recent graduates Jay Clay of Jackson and Derek Cantrell of Huntsville, Alabama, wrote the brief for Adams before they graduated in May.  The students are admitted to limited practice of law under the supervision of Clinical Professor of Law Phillip W. Broadhead.

Special Assistant Attorney General Abbie E. Koonce represents the state.

Adams was convicted of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and sentenced to 10 years in prison as a habitual offender.  He was arrested Oct. 16, 2014, in Gulfport, according to court records. The case is Adams v. State of Mississippi, cause number 2015-KA-1703-COA.

Broadhead said preparing an appeal and making oral arguments provides a valuable learning experience for students.

“The clinical experience transforms their focus to problem-solving in real cases through working together within the case teams,” Broadhead said.

The students in this semester’s clinic will be participating in the 28th oral argument at the Court of Appeals’ annual fall visit to MSU, Broadhead said. The Criminal Appeals Clinic at the University of Mississippi School of Law is in its 14th year, and has represented clients in more than 100 appeals, gaining reversals in 14 of those cases and training 191 law students in the highly-specialized field of appellate practice and criminal procedure.

The 3 p.m. oral argument is in a civil appeal in the case of Robert Hammons Jr. v. C. Wade Navarre II, Individually and d/b/a Navarre Fabrication, Inc.; Velcon Filters, LLC; Knappco Corporation; and Wilden Pump and Engineering, LLC, cause number 2015-CA-0243-COA.

Hammons, a helicopter pilot from Corinth, was injured in an Oct. 25, 2009, crash near Eupora while applying herbicides to timber, according to court records. Hammons, who was left a paraplegic, filed a product liability and negligence lawsuit in Leflore County Circuit Court. The Leflore County Circuit Court dismissed the out-of-state defendants. Hammons seeks to reinstate his lawsuit against those defendants.

Hammons is represented by attorneys Wayne E. Ferrell Jr. and Adrienne P. Parker of Jackson. Navarre and Navarre Fabrication are represented by the Ridgeland law firm of Copeland Cook Taylor and Bush. Velcon Filters is represented by the Greenwood law firm of Upshaw, Williams, Biggers and Beckham. Knappco Corporation and Wilden Pump and Engineering are represented by the Jackson office of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell and Berkowitz.

The oral arguments will not be broadcast via the court’s Internet website, since the Court of Appeals is convening special sessions away from its camera-equipped courtroom.

Any media organization interested in photographing or videotaping the oral arguments must file a Camera Coverage Notice. Camera Coverage Notices should be directed to Clerk of the Court Muriel Ellis, fax 601-359-2407, and to Assistant Court Administrator Camille Evans, fax 601-576-4708. The Camera Coverage Notice form is available online at https://courts.ms.gov/forms/camnotice.pdf.

Photographers and videographers must be familiar with and follow the Rules for Electronic and Photographic Coverage of Judicial Proceedings. The camera coverage rules are available at http://courts.ms.gov/rules/msrulesofcourt/rules_electronicphotographic_coverage.pdf.

For more information, contact Beverly Kraft, public information officer for the Administrative Office of Courts in Jackson, at 601-576-4637 or bkraft@courts.ms.gov.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.