Gartin Building Courtroom with the Great Seal of the State of Mississippi
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Court of Appeals to convene at Old Capitol Museum February 19

January 30, 2020

About 160 high school students from Jackson and Puckett are expected to attend a special session of the Mississippi Court of Appeals on Feb. 19 at 10:30 a.m. at the Old Capitol Museum in Jackson.

The Court of Appeals is working with the Department of Archives and History to provide a live civics lesson in an historic setting, the old House Chambers. Students will watch lawyers argue a criminal appeal before a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals.

Jackson Public Schools students from Forrest Hill High School, Michelle Obama Early College, Murrah High School, Provine High School and Wingfield High School as well as Puckett High School in Rankin County are expected to attend.

The Court of Appeals periodically schedules oral arguments on college campuses and occasionally at other locations in its Court on the Road program. This time, the program will be only a few blocks away from the Court of Appeals’ courtroom in downtown Jackson.
Court on the Road helps educate students and the public about the judicial system and appeals court proceedings. Judges will answer questions from students after the oral arguments, but won’t talk about the pending case.

Court of Appeals Judge Latrice Westbrooks of Lexington believes that enabling the students to view an appellate court proceeding will teach them about the different levels of the court system. The Court of Appeals reviews the finding of a trial court, studying the trial court record and legal briefs and listening to the arguments of lawyers. There are no witnesses or jurors at the appellate level.

Judge Westbrooks said, “The Court on the Road program offers the opportunity for transparency and education. It will transform and elevate the public’s understanding of Mississippi’s judicial system. It also encourages civic engagement and exposes the public to the Court in a way that is not adversarial.”

William “Brother” Rogers, director of the Programs and Communication Division of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, said, “The Mississippi Department of Archives and History is proud to host Court on the Road at the Old Capitol Museum, Mississippi’s most historic building. It’s the perfect venue to help students understand their role as citizens and the workings of the state’s judiciary.”

The case to be heard is the criminal appeal of Rodolfo McCandless Falcon IV v. State of Mississippi, cause number 2019-KA-0248. Falcon was convicted in the Circuit Court of Rankin County of sale of methamphetamine and conspiracy to sell a controlled substance as a subsequent drug offender. Circuit Judge William E. Chapman III on Dec. 10, 2018, sentenced Falcon to 40 years with 10 years suspended for Count I and 20 years for Count II, with the sentences to run concurrently to each other. Falcon was sentenced as an habitual offender.

The appellant brief filed on behalf of Falcon may be viewed on the Mississippi Judiciary website at this link:
https://courts.ms.gov/appellatecourts/docket/sendPDF.php?f=web0001.COA.2019-KA-248.24112.0.pdf&c=89753&a=N&s=2.

The brief filed by the office of the Attorney General is at this link:
https://courts.ms.gov/appellatecourts/docket/sendPDF.php?f=web0001.COA.2019-KA-248.27390.0.pdf&c=89753&a=N&s=2.

Falcon is represented by W. Daniel Hinchcliff of the Office of State Public Defender Indigent Appeals Division. The State is represented by Special Assistant Attorney General Abbie Eason Koonce.

The oral arguments are expected to last approximately an hour. The appellant and appellee are each allowed 30 minutes to present their arguments.

The oral arguments will not be broadcast via the Court’s website, since the Court of Appeals is convening a special session away from its camera-equipped courtroom.

Any media organization which may wish to photograph or videotape the arguments must file a Camera Coverage Notice. Camera Coverage Notices should be directed to Clerk of the Court Jeremy Whitmire, fax 601-359-2407 or e-mail jwhitmire@courts.ms.gov, and to Assistant Court Administrator Camille Evans, fax 601-576-4708 or e-mail cevans@courts.ms.gov. The Camera Coverage Notice form is at https://courts.ms.gov/news/forms/camnotice.pdf.

Photographers and videographers must be familiar with and follow the Rules for Electronic and Photographic Coverage of Judicial Proceedings. The camera coverage rules are available at this link: http://courts.ms.gov/rules/msrulesofcourt/rules_electronicphotographic_coverage.pdf.

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