Is Boles Still Good Law?

September 20, 2017 § Leave a comment

Earlier this month we talked about the MSSC’s decision in Lewis v. Pagel, in which the court overruled a long line of Mississippi cases that had held that venue is jurisdictional in divorce cases, and may not be waived.

That decision included the following footnote:

[Fn 3]  In 2006—after Section 93-5-11 was amended—this Court, in dicta, found that Section 93-5-11’s venue requirement conferred subject-matter jurisdiction on the chancery courts. National Heritage Realty, Inc. v. Estate of Boles, 947 So. 2d 238, 248–49 (Miss. 2006) (applying Miss. Code Ann. § 91-7-63(1)). We decline to follow this interpretation of Section 93-5-11 post-amendment. It appears the Boles Court did not take the amendment into account. [Bold emphasis mine]

I posted about the Boles decision in a previous post raising this very same point: The Boles decision simply ignored that the statute had been amended and misstated the law of change of change of venue in divorce cases. The high court held that the chancellor erred in ordering an estate to be transferred from one county to another because venue is jurisdictional by statute, and the case may not be transferred, only dismissed.

But Boles is an estate case, you might point out. Yes, but the rationale of the Boles opinion analogized the situation in that estate case to the classic divorce venue statute, holding that the statute is the sole source of subject matter jurisdiction over estates. But wait — Article 6, Section 159(c), of the Mississippi Constitution specifically confers subject matter jurisdiction over “Matters testamentary and of administration” on the chancery court.

Applying the logic in Lewis v. Pagel, then, Boles should be bad law. Not only is the statute not the source of subject-matter jurisdiction in estate matters, the analogy relied on by the court back then was faulty and incorrect.

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