In Re: Ali M. ShamsiddeenAnnotate this Case
Attorney Ali Muhammad Shamsiddeen appealed a trial court’s Order of Contempt and Order Denying Motion for Recusal. Michael Sorrell was convicted of one count of first degree murder and one count of felon in possession of a firearm. The Mississippi Court of Appeals reversed Sorrell’s conviction and remanded the case for a new trial. After numerous continuances, Sorrell’s new trial was scheduled for April 5, 2021. On the morning of trial, Sorrell’s then-counsel, Kevin Camp, failed to appear. Camp was terminated as defense counsel. On April 13, Shamsiddeen entered an appearance as counsel for Sorrell. By agreement of all parties, the trial was rescheduled for September 27. The trial court advised that no further continuances would be granted and that the case would proceed to trial on the 27th. On August 18, Shamsiddeen moved ore tenus for a continuance, which was denied. On August 31, Shamsiddeen filed a motion to continue trial. At the pretrial motion hearing on September 1, Shamsiddeen reasserted his motion to continue. The trial court denied the motion. On September 21, Shamsiddeen contacted the court administrator and advised that he had the coronavirus and would not be able to appear at the pretrial conference scheduled for September 22. Shamsiddeen was instructed to provide to the trial court documentation “from a healthcare provider that counsel [wa]s infected with the coronavirus and that he [wa]s symptomatic not asymptomatic.” On the morning of September 22, Shamsiddeen did not appear in person or virtually at the pretrial conference. Later that morning, Shamsiddeen emailed the court administrator a statement from a medical provider dated September 21. The statement not include a diagnosis or confirm any medical condition, only that the nature of the illness or injury was “medical” and that Shamsiddeen would “be able to return to work/school on 10-11-21.” On the day before trial, Shamsiddeen sent an email to the trial court noting that he was quarantining; he did not appear in court for trial. Before the jury panels were released, Shamsiddeen had someone from the City of Jackson’s legal department hand deliver a medical statement, dated September 27, identical to the September 21 medical statement with the exception of the word “quarantine” added to the nature of the illness or injury. The trial court thereafter entered the orders of contempt at issue here. The Mississippi Supreme Court found no reversible error in the orders and affirmed them.