Britton v. State

Decision Date23 March 2021
Docket NumberNO. 2020-CP-00478-COA,2020-CP-00478-COA
Citation313 So.3d 1056
Parties Meika Desean BRITTON, Appellant v. STATE of Mississippi, Appellee
CourtMississippi Court of Appeals

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: MEIKA DESEAN BRITTON (PRO SE)

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: LAUREN GABRIELLE CANTRELL

BEFORE CARLTON, P.J., GREENLEE AND McDONALD, JJ.

McDONALD, J., FOR THE COURT:

¶1. Meika Desean Britton appeals the DeSoto County Circuit Court's denial of his motion for post-conviction collateral relief (PCR). Finding no error, we affirm.

Facts and Procedural History

¶2. A DeSoto County grand jury indicted Britton for child exploitation pursuant to Mississippi Code Annotated section 97-5-33(7) (Supp. 2007) in 2009. In 2011, Britton pled guilty via an Alford1 plea. The circuit court sentenced Britton to fifteen years, with five years to serve, in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) and ten years of post-release supervision (PRS) with five years reporting. Britton was released from prison on December 31, 2015.

¶3. In March 2016, concerned parents filed a police report with the Southaven Police Department once they had discovered that their fourteen-year-old daughter had been sending text messages to forty-six-year-old Britton. Investigator Brandon Rushing began an investigation and discovered that Britton was on PRS because of his prior charge of child exploitation. He contacted Britton's probation officer to arrange a meeting with Britton. During the meeting, Investigator Rushing asked Britton to retrieve his cell phone from his vehicle. Once Britton retrieved his phone, he immediately began pushing buttons and stated that he did not want his probation officer to see the content. Officer Rushing seized Britton's phone and later obtained a search warrant. Britton's phone revealed that he had sent several Facebook messages to minor children.

¶4. A conversation with a fifteen-year-old minor boy revealed that the boy requested that Britton purchase alcohol and cigarettes for him, which Britton did. Britton also discussed sexually explicit content with the minor boy. One message stated, "But funny [sic] is on the massage you got hard lol." The minor boy did not respond. Britton then sent more messages, stating, "[Y]ou're ignoring what I said about the massage" and "admit the truth." The minor responded, "What?" Britton responded, "[T]hat you got hard, dork," to which the minor stated that he did.

¶5. Britton had another conversation with a seventeen-year-old boy on Facebook, which revealed that he discussed oral sex between two fifteen-year-old boys and a seventeen-year-old girl. Britton requested that the minors film their sexual encounters. Additionally, there were other messages in which Britton was requesting to see the minor boy's penis. With this evidence, Investigator Rushing concluded that Britton solicited sexuality explicit information, pictures, and products from minors. The State filed a petition to revoke Britton's PRS based on his new acts of child exploitation and contribution to the delinquency of a minor. Britton subpoenaed several witnesses to testify at his revocation hearing but failed to subpoena any victims. At the hearing, he had six witnesses to testify in his behalf. But he did not inform the court that he required testimony of any victims, nor did he request a continuance to have any victims subpoenaed. After his revocation hearing on May 13, 2016, the circuit court found that Britton had violated the terms of his PRS by committing the two new acts. The court revoked his PRS and ordered him to serve his suspended ten-year sentence in the custody of the MDOC.

¶6. In February 2017, Britton filed his first pro se PCR motion regarding his PRS revocation, alleging that his revocation was unlawful based on the following: (1) that minimum due process requirements were not met in the revocation hearing; (2) that his counsel provided ineffective assistance; and (3) that there was insufficient evidence to support his revocation. The circuit court denied Britton relief, finding that his issues were without merit. This Court affirmed the circuit court's denial.2

¶7. Britton filed a second pro se PCR motion on September 26, 2019, reasserting many issues that were raised in his first PCR motion. On April 13, 2020, the circuit court denied Britton's motion, finding that the motion was successive, time-barred, and without merit.

¶8. Britton appeals the denial of the second PCR motion, raising the following issues: (1) whether his PCR motion was procedurally barred; (2) whether his due process rights were violated by not being able to confront a witness about whom he had new information in an unsworn affidavit; (3) whether Britton's Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated by the search and seizure of his cell phone and information contained in warrant affidavits;3 and (4) whether he was innocent of the "crimes" that resulted in the PRS revocation. Finding the PCR motion to be procedurally barred, with no statutory or constitutional exceptions to the bar, we affirm.

Standard of Review

¶9. "When reviewing a trial court's denial or dismissal of a PCR motion, we will only disturb the trial court's decision if the trial court abused its discretion and the decision is clearly erroneous[.]" Green v. State , 242 So. 3d 176, 178 (¶5) (Miss. Ct. App. 2017). "When reviewing questions of law, our standard is de novo." White v. State , 59 So. 3d 633, 635 (¶4) (Miss. Ct. App. 2011).

Discussion

I. Whether Britton's PCR motion is procedurally barred.

¶10. Britton argues that the circuit court erred in finding that his PCR motion was not excepted from the procedural time-bar. We disagree.

¶11. The Mississippi Uniform Post-Conviction Collateral Relief Act provides "an exclusive and uniform procedure for the collateral review of convictions and sentences." Miss. Code Ann. § 99-39-3(1) (Rev. 2015). Unless a statutory exception is applicable, a motion for relief must be made within three years after entry of the judgment of conviction. Miss. Code Ann. § 99-39-5(2) (Rev. 2015). The exceptions include (1) an intervening decision of either the United States Supreme Court or the Supreme Court of the State of Mississippi; (2) new evidence not reasonably discoverable at trial; or (3) an expired sentence or an unlawful revocation of parole, probation, or conditional release . Id . § 99-39-5(2)(a)(i), (b).

¶12. "Errors affecting fundamental rights are [also] excepted from procedural bars." Salter v. State , 184 So. 3d 944, 950 (¶19) (Miss. Ct. App. 2015). Four fundamental-rights exceptions "have been expressly found to survive procedural bars: (1) the right against double jeopardy; (2) the right to be free from an illegal sentence; (3) the right to due process at sentencing; and (4) the right not to be subject to ex post facto laws." Carter v. State , 203 So. 3d 730, 731 (¶7) (Miss. Ct. App. 2016) (quoting Salter , 184 So. 3d at 950 (¶19) ). Additionally, in some cases ineffective assistance of counsel can constitute a violation of a defendant's constitutional rights. Coleman v. State , 300 So. 3d 1044, 1052 (¶26) (Miss. Ct. App. 2020), cert. denied , 308 So. 3d 438 (Miss. 2020). "The burden of proof is on the movant to show [if] any statutory exceptions to the procedural bars have been met." McCoy v. State , 230 So. 3d 1090, 1094 (¶9) (Miss. Ct. App. 2017).

¶13. The Mississippi Supreme Court has held that "a second or subsequent challenge to the same revocation decision is barred as a successive motion under section 99-39-23(6)." Fluker v. State , 170 So. 3d 471, 475 (¶10) (Miss. 2015). In Fluker , the Supreme Court quoted Lyons v. State , 990 So. 2d 262 (Miss. Ct. App. 2008), in addressing a second motion for PCR that challenged the same revocation decision as a former motion is successive:

[W]e do not find that the exception in section 99-39-23(6) allows an inmate to relitigate the issue that was already decided. To the contrary, we have previously stated [that] "the exceptions under Mississippi Code Annotated Section 99-39-23(6) only allow the filing of a successive writ if the argument presented within the writ falls under one of the exceptions and has not been previously argued and a decision rendered on the merits by the trial court."

Id . (quoting Lyons , 990 So. 2d at 265 (¶13) ).

¶14. Although Britton's PCR motion was filed on September 26, 2019, more than three years after his PRS was revoked, our Supreme Court has held that PCR motions alleging an unlawful parole revocation are excepted from the statute of limitations. Fluker , 170 So. 3d at 475-76 (¶12). But based upon the record and the applicable law, Britton raises similar issues as those asserted in his first PCR motion in 2017, including the right to confront witnesses and whether there was sufficient evidence to support his revocation. The circuit court denied Britton's first PCR motion, and this Court affirmed the denial.

¶15. Britton's second PCR motion challenges similar issues that he raised in his first PCR motion including: (1) whether his due process rights were violated by not being able to confront a witness; (2) whether Britton's Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated by the search of his cell phone; and (3) whether he was innocent of the alleged crimes that resulted in his PRS being revoked. Therefore, his PCR motion is procedurally barred as a successive motion. Dever v. State , 210 So. 3d 977, 982 (¶19) (Miss. Ct. App. 2017). This issue is without merit.

II. Whether Britton's due process rights were violated by not being able to confront a witness.

¶16. Britton argues that he should have been able to confront a victim based on "new evidence" that would have changed the outcome of his case. On September 26, 2019, when Britton filed his PCR motion, he briefly mentioned that he had new evidence: an unsworn affidavit from a minor child entitled "Declaration." The "Declaration" was later filed on September 30, 2019. The handwritten "D...

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2 cases
  • Pipkin v. State
    • United States
    • Mississippi Court of Appeals
    • May 24, 2022
    ...discoverable at trial; or (3) an expired sentence or an unlawful revocation of parole, probation, or conditional release. Britton v. State , 313 So. 3d 1056, 1059-60 (¶11) (Miss. Ct. App. 2021). Also excepted are "errors affecting fundamental constitutional rights." Rowland v. State , 42 So......
  • Dortch v. State
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    • Mississippi Court of Appeals
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    ...Gunn v. State , 248 So. 3d 937, 941 (¶15) (Miss. Ct. App. 2018). "When reviewing questions of law, our standard is de novo." Britton v. State , 313 So. 3d 1056, 1059 (¶9) (Miss. Ct. App. 2021).DISCUSSION ¶8. On appeal, Dortch reiterates his argument that the circuit court "failed to get [hi......

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