Mississippi – Joseph Patrick Brown loses post-conviction claims

march 23,2012  source : http://www.hattiesburgamerican.com

The Mississippi Supreme Court has sided with an Adams County judge who ruled death row inmate Joseph Patrick Brown was not unfairly treated when his attorneys decided against pursuing a mental evaluation of their client.

The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision Thursday, agreed with Circuit Judge Isadore W. Patrick that Brown’s attorneys “had not acted deficiently so as to satisfy a claim of ineffective assistance.”

In 2009, Brown‘s case was among nine death row post-conviction appeals in which the Supreme Court asked trial judges why they had not ruled – or scheduled hearings.

Brown’s claims of ineffective counsel were heard in Adams County Circuit Court in 2004. But no ruling was issued. Patrick, who was appointed to the case by the Supreme Court, issued a ruling denying the petition in 2010.

In a post-conviction petition, an inmate argues he has found new evidence – or a possible constitutional issue – that could persuade a court to order a new trial.

The Supreme Court asked Patrick to determine if there was merit to Brown’s complaint about his attorneys’ failure to ask questions about a state mental examination or to pursue an examination themselves.

Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr., writing for the court’s majority, said Thursday that Brown’s attorneys, after talking with doctors from the state mental hospital where Brown was examined, decided “not to have the doctors produce a report after determining that such report would be more harmful than helpful.”

Waller said that decision was courtroom strategy; a case, he said, “where a conscious decision was made to go forward with certain witnesses but not others.”

Four dissenting justices said it appeared Brown was not given all the material and records he needed to support his claims.

Brown was convicted and sentenced to death in Adams County in 1994 for the killing of a convenience store clerk in Natchez.

Prosecutors said Brown and his girlfriend were driving around Natchez on Aug. 8, 1992, looking for drugs when they pulled into the Charter Food Store where Martha Day worked.

Brown’s girlfriend testified that she saw Day grab her chest and fall after Brown approached the counter. The woman said Brown returned to the car with a cash register and other items.

Police said Day was shot four times and died at the scene.

Mississippi Supreme Court opinion read here

Mississippi – Upcoming execution William Gerald Mitchell, march 22. 2012

On the evening of November 21, 1995, near the end of her shift, Patty Milliken told her co-worker at a Biloxi convenience store that she was going to go outside with Mitchell to smoke a cigarette and talk.   She left her purse and car keys in the convenience store.   When she did not return, her co-worker reported to the police that she was missing.   Milliken had written Mitchell’s telephone number on a piece of paper that the police found in her purse.   The police cross-referenced the telephone number to an address.   When they arrived at that address, Mitchell, who was in the yard, ran from them.   The police later spotted Mitchell at a gas station, and pursued him when he fled from the gas station in his car.   He was arrested for traffic violations.

Milliken’s body was found the following morning under a bridge.   She had been beaten, strangled, sexually assaulted, and crushed after having been run over by a car.   After the police searched Mitchell’s car, he was charged with Milliken’s murder.   At the time of Milliken’s murder, Mitchell was under a sentence of life imprisonment for a previous murder, and had been on parole for approximately eleven months. The jury found Mitchell guilty of capital murder. 

The jury did not find Mitchell’s mitigating evidence to be persuasive, and he was sentenced to death.   The Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed his conviction and sentence on March 29, 2001, and denied rehearing on August 23, 2001.   Mitchell v. State, 792 So.2d 192 (Miss.2001).   The Supreme Court denied certiorari.  Mitchell v. Mississippi, 535 U.S. 933 (2002).

  • On March 31, 2010, Mitchell filed an appeal in the Fifth Circuit over the denial of his habeas petition in Federal District Court.


  • 05/16/2011 Mitchell filed an appeal in the Fifth Circuit, DENY Mitchell’s request for a COA

United States court of appeals for the fifth circuit

  • Mississippi Supreme  Curt decision march, 2012
    William Gerald Mitchell a/k/a William Jerald Mitchell v. State of Mississippi
    Motion for rehearing filed by counsel for William Gerald Mitchell is denied. To Deny: Waller, C.J., Carlson, P.J., Randolph, Lamar, Chandler and Pierce, JJ. To Grant: Dickinson, P.J., Kitchens and King, JJ. Order entered.
    2012-DR-00277-SCT 03/15/12