/Court of Appeals reverses former Southaven mayor’s criminal conviction

Court of Appeals reverses former Southaven mayor’s criminal conviction

The state’s second-highest appeals court ruled that DeSoto County Circuit Judge Bobby Chamberlin erred in denying Davis’ request for a change of trial location. This was after years of public attention about Davis’ personal and political life, including his 2011 declaration that he is gay. Judge David Ishee’s today’s opinion states that sixty-two of the 88 jurors responded positively to having seen publicity about Davis. “When the jury was impeached, nine of the twelve jurors and the two alternates stated during voir dire they had seen, read or heard something about the case.” The opinion agreed that the trial should have been moved to be fair to Davis. Davis, 50, was working when the decision was published. He said that he was “very happy and very relieved” about it. Steve Farese Sr. of Ashland was Davis’ attorney. He said that the Court of Appeals decision was “the right” and noted the strain it has caused to his family and friends. “But we are not done yet.” A DeSoto County grand juror indicted Davis for embezzlement, false pretenses and being Southaven’s mayor. He was sentenced to 10 year imprisonment and ordered to pay $19,000 in restitution. While the appeals are pending, he has been released on bond. John Champion, DeSoto District Attorney, has not yet indicated whether he will appeal today’s decision to Supreme Court or proceed with a new trial. Davis was a prominent north Mississippi politician for many years. He served as a member of the Mississippi House and ran in several elections for the U.S. Congress to replace Roger Wicker who was elected to the U.S. Senate. He seeks a rehearing before a Court of Appeals to reexamine a late 2015 decision in which he was ordered to repay Southaven certain expenses incurred from a civil case brought against him by the state Auditor’s Office.