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Mississippi Supreme Court Reverses Time Bar in Wrongful Conviction Civil Suit

Mississippi Supreme Court Reverses Time Bar in Wrongful Conviction Civil Suit

The Supreme Court of Mississippi, on January 9, 2014, reversed and remanded Adams County Circuit Court’s time-barred dismissal of appellant Larry Hammett’s motion to reinstate his claim levied against the state of Mississippi per the Compensation to Victims of Wrongful Conviction and Imprisonment Act (“the Act”). The Act was passed into law after he had served four years of a ten year sentence and freed on appeal. Hammett was convicted of perjury on March 6, 1997, and released on January 23, 2001, after the Mississippi Court of Appeals found that the state failed to prove perjury with sufficient evidence.

The Act states in pertinent part, “persons convicted, incarcerated and released from custody prior to July 1, 2009, shall commence an action under this chapter not later than June 30, 2012.” The circuit court found that Hammett filed his claim on October 5, 2012, and dismissed.

Hammett countered that his claim was timely under the “prison mailbox rule;” that he filed the suit on May 29, 2012 and that it was returned for lack of a filing fee. He resubmitted the suit, along with an application to proceed in forma pauperis on May 29, 2012. He submitted the aforementioned with his “Motion to Reinstate Claim” and attached three exhibits: 1) a document with a time stamp dated May 29, 2012; 2) A notary log entry with “appl. to proceed in forma pauperis,” dated “6/19/12,” and 3) A “State Offender Request Form,” dated “9/9/12” requesting dates of all legal papers mailed to the Adam County Circuit Clerk, with an attached answer, “May 24, 2012.”

Hammett, in his appeal, relied on the prison mailbox rule and Mississippi Supreme Court precedent. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case with instructions to accurately determine, consistent with cited case law, the effective date Hammett submitted his petition. See: Hammett v. State, 129 So. 3d 931, 933 (Miss. 2014).

Related legal case

Hammett v. State