The Mississippi Supreme Court has ordered a new trial for a man sentenced to 10 years in prison by a Madison County Circuit Judge, citing an error was made in the lower court during the initial trial.

Henry Lewis was found guilty by a jury in August 2016 for possession of a firearm by a felon and sentenced to a decade in prison as an habitual offender by Judge Steve Ratcliff.

Lewis appealed the case to the Supreme Court.

“On appeal, Lewis argues the circuit judge committed reversible error by telling Lewis that he would have to represent himself at trial with standby counsel if he chose to give his own opening statement,” the decision by the Supreme Court on Tuesday stated. “Finding error, we reverse the circuit court’s judgment and remand the case for a new trial.”

The appeal centered on the opening statement. Lewis argued that Judge Ratcliff told him that in order to give his own opening statement in the case, Lewis would have to represent himself at trial. Lewis argued to the Supreme Court that violated his rights to participate in his own defense.

At the initial trial, Lewis’ attorney Abraham Rowe informed Judge Ratcliff that Lewis would be making his own opening statement in the case. It was after that statement Judge Ratcliff asked Lewis if he intended on cross-examining witnesses and participating further in the trial.

Lewis told the judge his attorney would be cross-examining the witnesses but if the questions he didn’t want asked weren’t asked, Lewis would object.

“Either you represent yourself or Mr. Rowe represents you,” Judge Ratcliff told Lewis, according to the court transcript. “Now, you can have some input like any other client has with (his) attorney, and you can talk to him, but one or the other.

“I’m going to allow him to stay, or I’m going to order him to stay in an advisory position if you want to represent yourself; and I want you to represent yourself throughout the trial,” he continued. “If you want Mr. Rowe to represent you, he’s going to represent you throughout the trial.”

Lewis later conceded and had his attorney make the opening statement.

“Upon review, we find the circuit judge erred by instructing Lewis that he would have to proceed pro se with standby counsel if he chose to make his own opening statement,” the Supreme Court decision read. “As previously discussed, Mississippi caselaw clearly allows a defendant ‘to exercise both his right to assistance of counsel and his right to address the jury.’”