|Mississippi Supreme Court|
|Appointed by:||Ronnie Musgrove|
|Past post:||Mississippi Court of Appeals|
|Undergraduate:||University of South Alabama, 1982|
|Law School:||University of Mississippi School of Law, 1985|
Oliver E. Diaz, Jr. is a former presiding justice on the Mississippi Supreme Court, District 2, Place 2. Diaz was appointed to the court in 2000 and defeated in the 2008 election. On November 4, challenger "Bubba" Pierce defeated incumbent Justice Oliver Diaz.
Diaz received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of South Alabama in 1982 and his J.D. from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1985.
Diaz served in the Mississippi House of Representatives (representing District 116 representing Biloxi and D'Iberville) for seven years from 1988 to 1994. During his tenure in the Legislature, he was a subcommittee Chairman for the Insurance Committee and for the Judiciary Committee. He was on the Ways and Means Committee and was Secretary for the Constitution Committee. He also served as City Attorney for the City of D'Iberville for four years.
Diaz was elected to the Mississippi Court of Appeals in November 1994 and served in that position until March 2000, at which time he was appointed to the Mississippi Supreme Court. In 2000, he was elected to the Supreme Court for an eight-year term beginning January 2001.
Diaz was defeated in his bid for re-election in 2008.
|Randy Pierce||No||District 2, Position 2||58.1%|
|Oliver Diaz||Yes||District 2, Position 2||41.9%|
Stewart v. Prudential decision
On Oct. 2, 2007 the Mississippi Supreme Court overturned, with a 7-2 decision in Prudential v. Stewart (2007) , a Hinds County Circuit Court jury award of $36.4 million against Prudential Insurance. In a dissenting opinion, Justices James Graves and Oliver Diaz said that the case had been decided properly by the jury that heard the case.
The case involved Dr. Edsel Stewart, a McComb physician, who purchased a $1 million life insurance policy from Prudential and wrote out a check for $20,000 to the insurance broker. Stewart had a stroke the following day, slipped into a coma, and died about a month later. When his family attempted to collect on the insurance, Prudential refused to honor the policy. It was Prudential’s position that the policy was never commenced, as there was a "counteroffer" policy prepared, which was never delivered or signed. A Hinds County jury ruled in the Stewarts’ favor, adding more than $35 million in punitive damages.
Journalists were quick to point out that Justice Jess Dickinson, who voted to reverse the $35 million against Prudential, took more than $1 million in 2002 from various insurance companies, physicians and lawyers, including the law firm that represented Prudential. Likewise, Presiding Justice William Waller, who also voted for Prudential, took in $357,799 during 2004 from lawyers, physicians and insurance companies, as did Chief Justice James W. Smith ($316,077), Justice Mike Randolph ($585,417) and Justice George Carlson ($276,275).
However, several facts from the case reveal these donations to be an obvious post hoc ergo propter hoc error. First, Dr. Stewart's son Larry failed to disclose that his father 1) had a stroke and 2) had fallen into a coma during the period between 9/1/99 (when Dr. Stewart's coma occurred) and when the "counteroffer" policy was completed on 9/17/99 - despite numerous conversations with the broker. Second, contract law dictates that for a valid contract to exist there must be offer, acceptance, and consideration. The "counteroffer" policy (underwritten, notably, absent the material change information withheld by the doctor's son) offered to Dr. Stewart at a slightly higher premium was never accepted because 1) he was in a coma and 2) the policy was never physically delivered for signatures, i.e., never accepted. At trial, Larry Stewart even testified that he "understood that after the issuance of the policy, there was a process for acceptance, which included delivery, to be completed before the policy would be effective."
Diaz believes US Attorney targeted him
Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz was indicted in 2003 on charges relating to his receipt of a loan guarantee from trial lawyer Paul Minor - a personal friend and the largest Democratic donor in Mississippi - to help defray campaign debts. A Bush-appointed US Attorney, Dunnica Lampton, brought charges of bribery against Diaz, Minor and two other Mississippi judges. Diaz was acquitted of all those charges. Within days of his acquittal, Diaz was indicted for a second time, and again acquitted. "After I was indicted and before my trial, my home was also broken into," recalls Diaz. "Our door was kicked in and our documents were rummaged. Televisions, computers and other valuables were not taken, despite the fact that we were out of town for several days and the home was left open by the burglars. We could not figure out a motive for the burglary and reported it to the Biloxi Police Department. The crime was never solved."
- NNBD, Oliver Diaz
- Project Vote Smart, Oliver Diaz Biography
- Main Justice "Judge’s Lawsuit Against Prosecutor Moves Forward," May 14, 2010
- Clarionledger.com, "Should corporations seek across-the-board recusals from Diaz?" May 7, 2008
- The Huffington Post, "Mississippi Supreme Court Justice: Bush US Attorney Targeted My Wife, Supporters and Friends," April 10, 2008
- Justice in Mississippi, Harper's Magazine, September, 2007.
- The New York Times, "Not From a Grisham Novel, but One for the Casebook," March 15, 2004
|Former||Oliver Diaz • Charles Easley • James Graves • George Carlson • James W. Smith • Michael Mills (Mississippi) • James Coleman •|