Court of Appeals schedules oral arguments at University of Mississippi School of Law

April 16, 2010

The Mississippi Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments at the University of Mississippi School of Law in Oxford on April 20.

The Court of Appeals periodically schedules oral arguments on college campuses and occasionally at other locations as a teaching tool for law school or pre-law students. It is known as the Court on the Road program.

A three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals will convene to hear oral arguments at 1 p.m. at 300 Lamar Law Center in Moot Court Two on the third floor. The second case will be heard at 2:15 p.m.

Third year law students of the Criminal Appeals Clinic will make arguments seeking to overturn convictions. Criminal Appeals Clinic students Caleb Ballew of Greenville, N.C., and Samuel Winnig of Madison, Wis., will argue on behalf of appellant J. Irvin Beasley. Special Assistant Attorney General Laura H. Tedder will represent the state of Mississippi. Students Jessica Ayers of Jackson and Ritchie Collins of Oxford will argue on behalf of appellant Tyshunna Cooper Ross. Special Assistant Attorney General John Henry will represent the state.

Court of Appeals judges will answer questions from students after the oral arguments. They will not talk about legal issues of the cases which were argued.

Court of Appeals Judge Donna Barnes of Tupelo said that conducting the oral arguments on campus provides an opportunity for a large number of students to observe, and gives participating students valuable experience.

“When the court goes on the road, it is to provide an educational experience for the student and community audience. At the University of Mississippi School of Law, however, the students are actually involved in the process,” Judge Barnes said. “The students are serving as counsel for individuals who have lost their freedom due to a criminal conviction. These are not just theoretical or moot court cases for the students, but are real cases with real consequences not only to the criminal defendants but also to the victims of the crimes and to the citizens of the state of Mississippi. It is a wonderful opportunity for the students and is a great assistance to these criminal defendants who have had their cases chosen by the clinic.”

University of Mississippi law students participating in the Criminal Appeals Clinic have represented indigent defendants in appeals since the National Center for Justice and the Rule of Law was created at the law school in 2002. Teams of two students spend one semester working on the briefs, and, if oral argument is granted, a different set of two students presents the arguments the next semester.

J. Irvin Beasley is appealing his Jackson County Circuit Court conviction and 35-year prison sentence on one count of touching a child for lustful purposes and one count of sexual battery. Beasley was arrested by Ocean Springs Police on Oct. 20, 2005, indicted by a Jackson County grand jury on Dec. 16, 2006, and convicted in July 2008. The case is 2009-KA-00650-COA, J. Irvin Beasley v. State of Mississippi.

Tyshunna Cooper Ross is appealing her Madison County Circuit Court conviction and 18-year prison sentence on one count of gratification of lust and one count of sexual battery. Ross was arrested by Madison Police after an investigation which began in July 2007, indicted by a Madison County grand jury on April 9, 2008, and convicted in December 2008. The case is 2009-KA-00796-COA.

Each oral argument is expected to last approximately an hour; the appellant and appellee are each allowed 30 minutes.

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

Any media organization which may wish to photograph or videotape the presentation must follow the Rules for Electronic and Photographic Coverage of Judicial Proceedings. Media wishing to record or photograph the arguments must have equipment set up at least 15 minutes before the arguments are scheduled to begin. Media must file a Camera Coverage Notice at least 48 hours prior to the commencement of the proceeding. The camera coverage notice is available at: The camera coverage rules are available on the Mississippi Supreme Court’s web site at: