Rebecca Hentz a/k/a Emily Rebecca Hentz, 2013-CA-01217-SCT (2013)

Note:  Although this is not a recent case, it deals with a very rare topic, one that is politically charged, so thought it would be an interesting addition to this part of my website.                                     

Story Of The Case:  The Defendant pleaded guilty to one count of "Attempt To Manufacture Methamphetamine".  She was sentenced to 30 years in jail, all of which were suspended, and given unsupervised probation, as well as a $5,000.00 fine.  This was in September of 2000.  On January 12, 2012, Governor Haley Barbour granted her a "full, complete, and unconditional pardon" for that felony conviction.  In 2013 the Defendant filed for an expungement of the conviction because she had been pardoned.  The trial court denied it, and she appealed to the Mississippi Supreme Court.

Outcome:  The Mississippi Supreme Court upheld the Trial Court's decision not to grant Ms. Hentz an expungement.  The Supreme Court acknowledged the fact that none of the Mississippi Statutes on Expungements mentioned Executive Pardons.  It then concluded that, because it did not fall under one of the circumstances in which one could get an expungement, the ruling by the Trial Judge was correct.

Interesting Fact:  Governor Haley Barbour later became the Chairman of the Republican National Committee.

                                        Maurice Johnson vs State of Mississippi, 2020-CA-01395-COA  (2022)

Story Of The Case:  Mr. Johnson pled guilty to a felony marijuana possession case in 2007 and served his time.  He was later indicted in 2018 for the sale of crystal meth, and as a second time offender, faced increased jail time.  By 2020 he had still not gone to trial, and his second attorney immediately filed for a "Petition for Expungement" of the 2007 conviction.  The Trial Court signed an "Order Of Expungement" a couple of months later, and the State of Mississippi objected two months after that.    After a hearing, the Judge set aside the "Order of Expungement".   The Defendant appealed.

Outcome:   Even though Mr. Johnson's attorney followed the "letter of the law" in the expungement proceedings, the Court Of Appeals ruled that the Trial Court had discretion to set aside its own order, thus leaving the Defendant to be sentenced as a second offender.

Interesting Fact:  The Court Of Appeals mentioned in its opinion a facet of the expungement statutes that both attorneys and judges sometimes overlook.  The Court noted that the purpose of the expungement law is to allow those who have rehabilitated themselves to move on with their lives.  The Appeals Court, understandably, found it a little hard to believe that a person who was arrested in 2018 on a crystal meth charge and again in 2020 for conspiracy, was entitled to "move on with his life."         

                                       India Kerr vs William Kerr, 2019-CA-00609-SCT 

Story Of The Case:  Although this was a family law case and not a criminal appeal, it illustrates how a domestic violence charge and an expungement can come up in a Divorce Case.  After the Divorce Hearing the custody of the child was awarded to the father. The mother appealed. One of the grounds for her appeal was that the Court did not follow the law which states that one act of "family violence" resulting in bodily injury could be detrimental to the best interest of the minor child.  (The father was arrested and charged with felony domestic violence during the marriage.)

Outcome:  The Mississippi Supreme Court agreed with the Trial Court and custody remained with the father.  Even though the father was arrested on a felony domestic violence charge against the mother during the marriage, the charge was later dropped at the request of the mother.  The charge was later expunged by the Municipal Court Judge.  The Trial Court, after hearing all of the testimony, did not believe that the father had actually committed domestic violence, and that it was fabricated by the mother. The Supreme Court agreed.

Interesting Fact:  The day after the mother had the father arrested for felony domestic violence, her father had her involuntarily committed to a Mental Institution.  

                                      Azalean Riogers vs State of Mississippi, 2020-CP-00407-COA (2021)

Story Of The Case:  The Defendant filed a motion to expunge two (2) counts of forgery she plead guilty to in 1979.  The trial court expunged one but not the other.  She appealed that decision by the trial court, saying that both should have been expunged from her record.

Outcome:  The Appeals Court quoted Miss. Code Annot. 99-19-71(2)(a), stating that the trial court was correct in holding that she was eligible for only 1 felony expunction. 

Interesting Fact:  Had the two (2) convictions arisen out of a "common nucleus of operative facts", the Judge would have had the option of expunging both convictions.

                                   Fredrickus Dashun Watson vs State of Mississippi, 2020-CA-01050-COA (2021)

Story Of The Case:  The Defendant plead guilty to burglary of a dwelling when he was 18 years old.  After he completed his sentence and probation, he filed a petition for an expungement.  The trial court denied it, stating that, under Mississippi Law, burglary of a dwelling was a "crime of violence", and the crimes with that classification were not eligible for expungement.   He appealed.

Outcome:  The Court ruled that the defendant was ineligible for expungement, even though burglary of a dwelling house was not a "crime of violence" when he committed the offense or when he was sentenced by the Court.  It was only designated so later.

Interesting Fact:  Because the change making burglary of a dwelling house a crime of violence did not affect his sentence in any way or increase his incarceration time, the designation was not prejudicial to him.