Citation876 So.2d 995
Decision Date01 July 2004
Docket Number No. 2002-AN-01949-SCT., No. 2002-AN-01492-SCT
PartiesIn the Matter of the CONTRACTION, EXCLUSION AND DEANNEXATION OF Certain Areas from the Corporate Boundaries of the CITY OF GRENADA, Mississippi. City of Grenada v. Frank Marascalco, Mike Hyneman, Bill Williams and Joseph Lee. In the Matter of the Contraction, Exclusion and Deannexation of Certain Areas from the Corporate Boundaries of the City of Grenada, Mississippi.
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Mississippi

Mary A. Brown, Hernando, Ellis Turnage, Cleveland, attorneys for appellant.

David D. O'Donnell, Oxford, attorney for appellees.


COBB, Presiding Justice, for the Court.

¶ 1. This case of first impression consists of two consolidated appeals arising from a deannexation controversy in Grenada County Chancery Court. In the first appeal, the chancery court denied the City of Grenada's request to deannex certain areas from the City. The chancery court further ordered the City to proceed with litigation under the Voting Rights Act in a specified manner. The City appeals this decision, submitting the following issues:


¶ 2. Four Grenada city councilmen subsequently refused to proceed with litigation under the Voting Rights Act as ordered by the chancellor. The chancellor held the councilmen in contempt for their refusal. The City also appeals this decision, submitting the following issues:


¶ 3. After due consideration we affirm the chancellor's decision on the City's request for deannexation, and affirm the judgment of contempt. We further find that the chancellor erred in ordering the City to proceed with litigation under the Voting Rights Act, and reverse and render this portion of the chancery court judgment.


¶ 4. Our review of these consolidated appeals begins with the annexation of certain areas by the City of Grenada in 1993, which was subsequently approved by the chancery court in 1995 and affirmed without opinion by this Court. See In the Matter of the Extension of the Boundaries of the City of Grenada, Mississippi, 669 So.2d 85 (Miss.1996)

. It is difficult to find an official determination in the record before us of how many voters of what race were added by this annexation. A study based on the 1990 census, and submitted to the Grenada City Council before its vote on annexation showed a 1990 population for Grenada of 10,864, 5,462 (50.3%) white and 5,402 (49.7%) non-white. It was reported that annexation would add 4,021 persons to the City, 2,447 white and 1,574 non-white. This would result in a total population for Grenada of 14,885, 7,909 (53.1%) white, and 6,976 (46.9%) non-white. A subsequent recalculation subtracted 24 white persons from the 2,447 figure.

¶ 5. Because the annexation impacted Grenada's voter rolls and resulted in redistricting of the seven city wards, it was necessary to seek federal preclearance of the changes as required under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 1973c. The City submitted the annexation to the United States Attorney General (USAG) in April 1998, with three of the City's seven wards containing a majority black population. In August 1998 the USAG objected to the annexation, finding that it had both a discriminatory purpose and effect.

¶ 6. On January 3, 2000, the City of Grenada resubmitted the 1993 annexation ordinance with a revised redistricting ward plan. This time, of the seven city wards, four had majority black populations. By letter dated March 3, 2000, the USAG appeared to recognize that the annexation no longer had a retrogressive effect:

While the proposed redistricting plan appears to fairly reflect black voting strength in the post-annexation city by providing four council districts in which minority voters would have a fair opportunity to elect candidates of their choice, this would only remedy the annexation's retrogressive effect, not its discriminatory purpose.

¶ 7. The USAG further stated:

Because the basis for our 1998 objection to the city's annexation was that the city intended the result that would have been achieved through the annexation, i.e., a reduction in minority voting strength, our objection clearly satisfies the standard articulated in [Reno v.] Bossier [Parish School Board, 528 U.S. 320, 120 S.Ct. 866, 145 L.Ed.2d 845 (2000)]. Thus, although the Supreme Court has clarified the scope of the Section 5 purpose analysis, in the case of Grenada's annexation, this clarification provides no basis for withdrawing our objection.
Nor have you provided any new factual information that would allow us to conclude that the annexation was not adopted for the prohibited purpose of reducing minority voting strength within the city and defining the city's boundaries so as to exclude certain areas containing minority persons wishing to become voters in Grenada. Not only has the city failed to take any steps to address the concerns we raised in our objection letter regarding the process and sequence of events leading to the adoption of the objected-to annexation or to provide any new facts that would indicate that the objected to annexation was adopted for "objectively verifiable, legitimate reasons," see City of Richmond v. United States, 422 U.S. 358, 375, 95 S.Ct. 2296, 45 L.Ed.2d 245 (1975),

it has done nothing to address its racially exclusionary annexation procedures.

Thus, USAG declined to withdraw the objection to the annexation.

¶ 8. In response, the City Council on February 12, 2001, adopted a new ordinance which provided for deannexation of five separate and non-contiguous parcels of land from the corporate limits of Grenada. These parcels were all part of the area which was annexed in 1993. Under the 2000 census data, a total of 1285 persons would be removed from the Grenada city limits as part of the deannexation, 1160 white and 125 African-American. The Complaint for ratification, approval and confirmation of the deannexation was filed by the City of Grenada on November 15, 2001. A Response and Objection to the Complaint was filed in February 2002 by Frank Marascalco, Mike Hyneman, Bill Williams and Joseph Lee. The objectors alleged that the complaint was not supported by adequate evidence and constituted "a patent racial gerrymander." The objectors also alleged that there were other avenues of responding to the USAG's objection to the annexation.

¶ 9. A hearing was held before the chancery court on the deannexation on June 4-6, 2002. On July 24, 2002, Chancellor Percy L. Lynchard, Jr., entered his opinion finding that the proposed deannexation was unreasonable and directed that the city council immediately supplement the preclearance submission to fully and properly address the objections imposed by the USAG to the original annexation. Moreover, the chancery court ordered Grenada to disclose to the USAG a study that showed that certain areas were excluded from the 1993 annexation because of cost and not because of race. Judge Lynchard entered his Judgment and Decree Denying the Contraction, Exclusion and De-Annexation of Certain Areas from the Corporate Boundaries of the City of Grenada, Mississippi on August 7, 2002. The City of Grenada filed its notice of appeal on August 30, 2002. This is appeal no. 2002-AN-01492.

¶ 10. The City did not move for stay pending appeal and did not comply with the portion of the chancery court's order which required it to supplement its Section 5 preclearance submission. The objectors Frank Marascalco et al. filed a motion for contempt on September 26, 2002. After hearings held on November 18, 2002, the chancery court found the City of Grenada and Councilmen Lewis Johnson, Calvin Neely, J.B. Flowers, and Earnest Hargrove in contempt, fining them each $100 per day beginning on November 18 and continuing until they were no longer in contempt. A show cause hearing was set for November 21, 2002. The objectors were awarded their attorney's fees. The City of Grenada filed its notice of appeal on November 21, 2002. On November 21, the chancery court entered a second order, once again finding the four councilmen in contempt and remanding them to the custody of the Grenada County Sheriff's Department until the contempt had been purged. The order further found that enforcement of the contempt decree would be stayed if this Court entered a stay as to the August 7, 2002 judgment. By order dated November 22, 2002, this Court entered a stay. This is appeal no. 2002-CA-01949. The appeals were consolidated on July 17, 2003, by order of this Court.

I. Deannexation.

¶ 11. This Court has provided the following standard of review:

This Court's standard of review for annexation is very limited. The Court can only reverse the chancery court's findings as to the reasonableness of an annexation if the chancellor's decision is manifestly wrong and is not supported by substantial and credible evidence. In re Enlargement and Extension of Mun. Boundaries of City of Madison v. City of Madison, 650 So.2d 490, 494 (Miss.1995)

. We also stated "[w]here there is conflicting, credible evidence, we defer to the findings below." Bassett v. Town of Taylorsville, 542 So.2d 918, 921 (Miss.1989). "Findings of fact made in the context of conflicting, credible evidence may not be disturbed unless this Court can say that from all the evidence that such findings are manifestly wrong, given the weight of the evidence." Id. at 921. "We only reverse where the Chancery Court has employed erroneous legal standards or where we are left with a firm and definite conviction that a mistake has been...

To continue reading

Request your trial
3 cases
  • Corporate Management, Inc. v. Greene County, 2008-CA-01298-SCT.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • 3 Diciembre 2009
    ...statement and information is produced. ¶ 41. This Court, in the case of In re Contraction, Exclusion and Deannexation of City of Grenada, 876 So.2d 995, 1006 (Miss.2004), determined that a city's failure to comply with a chancellor's judgment was not excused by this Court's later determinat......
  • In re City of Jackson, 2003-AN-00390-SCT.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • 13 Octubre 2005
    ...wrong and is not supported by substantial and credible evidence." In re Contraction, Exclusion and Deannexation of City of Grenada, 876 So.2d 995, 999 (Miss. 2004). We will also defer to the findings below when there is conflicting, credible evidence. See id. "We only reverse where the Chan......
  • In re Ext. of Boundaries of City of Sardis, 2004-AN-02437-SCT.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • 19 Abril 2007
    ...Ridgeland, 912 So.2d 961, 964 (Miss.2005); City of Grenada v. Marascalco (In re Contraction, Exclusion & Deannexation of Certain Areas), 876 So.2d 995, 999-1000 A. The Effective Date of an Annexation Decree ¶ 8. The first question is whether the decree was effective when the City passed the......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT