September 16, 2014  

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Mississippi Court of Appeals to convene at Southern Miss Oct. 4

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The Mississippi Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments on the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Oct. 4. A three-member panel of the court will convene at the Thad Cochran Center on the Hattiesburg campus.

The Court of Appeals 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.

The goal of the program is to help educate students and the public about a level of court proceedings which they otherwise would have little opportunity to see. The Court of Appeals began the Court on the Road program as a part of its regular calendar for oral arguments in 2005. 

Oral arguments scheduled for Oct. 4 in Hattiesburg include two criminal appeals. Oral arguments will be heard at 11 a.m. in the case of John Edward McDonald v. State of Mississippi, Case. No. 2012-KA-0023. Oral arguments are scheduled at 2 p.m. in the case of Mike McTiller III v. State of Mississippi, Case No. 2011-KA-1662.

Each oral argument is expected to last approximately an hour. The appellant and appellee are each allowed 30 minutes. People wishing to watch the oral arguments are asked to be in their seats 15 minutes before the oral arguments are scheduled to begin.

McDonald was arrested in Jackson on Sept. 23, 2009. He was convicted Nov. 2, 2011 in Hinds County Circuit Court on a charge of possession of more than a kilogram of marijuana with intent to distribute. The indictment charged that the offense occurred within 1,500 feet of a church, and that McDonald was an habitual offender.  Special Circuit  Judge L. Breland Hilburn on Nov. 7, 2011 sentenced McDonald to 60 years in prison.

McTiller was convicted Aug. 26, 2011, in Washington County Circuit Court on charges of  aggravated assault and use of a firearm during the commission of a felony. Circuit Judge Richard A. Smith sentenced McTiller to 15 years to serve on the aggravated assault charge and five years on the firearms enhancement, with the sentences running concurrently. McTiller is accused of shooting Angelo Boykins in the shoulder with a .32-caliber pistol during a fight on Aug. 6, 2010.

George T. Holmes of the Indigent Appeals Division of the Office of the State Public Defender represents McTiller and McDonald. Special Assistant Attorneys General Stephanie B. Wood and Laura H. Tedder represent the Attorney General’s office.

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

Any media organization which may wish to photograph or videotape the arguments must file a Camera Coverage Notice at least 48 hours prior to the commencement of the proceedings. Camera Coverage Notices should be directed to Clerk of the Court Kathy Gillis, fax 601-359-2407, and to Assistant Court Administrator Katie Cassady, fax 601-576-4708.  The Camera Coverage Notice form is at http://www.mssc.state.ms.us/forms/camnotice.pdfhttp://courts.ms.gov/forms/camnotice.pdf.

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