Mississippi Court of Appeals rejects drug appeal

Published 10:34 am Friday, May 22, 2015

The Mississippi Court of Appeals has rejected the appeal of a Vicksburg man with a long rap sheet who said he should have been sent to prison earlier.

On Tuesday the court rejected the appeal of Tommy Hamberlin, 50, who clamed his sentenced of 20 years in a 2007 drug case was illegal because prosecutors should have sent him to prison in 2001.

“The circuit court also considered the substance of Hamberlin’s arguments, but dismissed them as without merit. It is from this dismissal that Hamberlin appeals,” Presiding Judge Kenneth Griffis wrote in the court’s opinion.

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In a lengthy hand written appeal, Hamberlin said the sentence is illegal and his attorney “failed to uphold his promise of one eight-year sentence.”

However, during his sentencing hearing, Hamberlin said no promises were made to him in exchange for a guilty plea.

State sentencing guidelines allow judges to sentence offenders to consecutive or concurrent sentences on multiple counts. Hamberlin was sentenced by Circuit Judge M. James Chaney to consecutive sentences plus a consecutive run of his outstanding probation time.

Just how Hamberlin contends the sentence is illegal is where things get complicated.

Hamberin was convicted of possession of a controlled substance in 2001 and two counts of the same charge in 2007. In the 2007 case, his probation was revoked for the for the 2001 case — leaving him five years and 180 days to serve — and he was sentenced to a total of 15 years on the two counts of possession.

In his case, Hamberlin suggests he should have gone to prison in 2001.

Hamberlin says his 2001 sentence was illegal because he was convicted of a felony in June 1995, making him ineligible for probation in that case and making it illegal to revoke that probation.

The appeal before the court, however, only focuses on the 2007 conviction, and that the sentence from those cases were illegal because he should not have been put on probation in 2001.