Mississippi Supreme Court
|Mississippi Supreme Court|
|Chief:||$126,000 (Presiding Judge $124k)|
|Method:||Nonpartisan election of judges|
The Supreme Court of Mississippi is the highest court in the state of Mississippi. It has nine justices who are elected from three judicial districts in the state to eight-year terms in nonpartisan elections. The court building is located in downtown Jackson, Miss., the state capital. The court hears appeals from decisions of the chancery, circuit and county courts, as well as from the Mississippi Court of Appeals.
JusticesThe current justices of the court are:
|Chief Justice William Waller||1996-2020|
|Associate Justice David Chandler (Mississippi)||2008-2016|
|Associate Justice Ann Lamar||2007-2016|
|Presiding Justice Jess Dickinson||2004-2018|
|Presiding Justice Mike Randolph||2005-2020|
|Associate Justice Jim Kitchens||2008-2016|
|Associate Justice Randy Pierce||2008-2016|
|Associate Justice Leslie King||2011-2020||Gov. Haley Barbour|
|Associate Justice Josiah Coleman||2013-2020|
Nonpartisan elections are staggered so that not all positions are up for election at once, and the nine justices serve eight-year terms. The court consists of one chief justice, two presiding justices and six associate justices. Three judges represent each district, with a total of three geographical justices.
If a vacancy occurs, the governor of the state may appoint a justice. The appointed justice serves the remainder of the term, then must stand in the next election to retain the seat.
According to the Mississippi Constitution of 1890, Article VI, §150, "a qualified candidate for the Supreme Court must be a practicing attorney, at least 30 years of age, and a citizen of the state for five years preceding the day of election." The fee for party candidates is $200, made payable to the appropriate state party executive committee.
The Mississippi Supreme Court has exclusive jurisdiction over capital punishment cases, along with annexations, bond issues, constitutionality challenges, death penalty cases, disciplinary matters involving attorneys and judges, election contests, certified questions from federal court, utility rates, cases of first impression and issues of broad public interest.
The number of filings is the combined amount from the supreme court and court of appeals. Disposition number is for the supreme court only.
- Mississippi has not yet provided caseload data for 2014.
|Josiah Coleman||No||District 3, Position 3||58%|
|Leslie King||Yes||District 1, Position 2||100%|
|Mike Randolph||Yes||District 2, Position 3||77%|
|Richard T. Phillips||No||District 3, Position 3||42%|
|Talmadge Braddock||No||District 2, Position 3||23%|
|William Waller||Yes||District 1, Position 1||55%|
Incumbent Jess Dickinson ran unopposed to retain his seat.
In October 2012, political science professors Adam Bonica and Michael Woodruff of Stanford University attempted to determine the partisan outlook of state supreme court justices in their paper, State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns. A score above 0 indicated a more conservative leaning ideology while scores below 0 were more liberal. The state Supreme Court of Mississippi was given a campaign finance score (CFscore) which was calculated for judges in October 2012. At that time, Mississippi received a score of 0.69. Based on the justices selected, Mississippi was the 6th most conservative court. The study is based on data from campaign contributions by judges themselves, the partisan leaning of contributors to the judges or, in the absence of elections, the ideology of the appointing body (governor or legislature). This study is not a definitive label of a justice but rather, an academic gauge of various factors.
In December 2013, the Center for Public Integrity released a study on disclosure requirements for state supreme court judges. Analysts from the Center reviewed the rules governing financial disclosure in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as personal financial disclosures for the past three years. The study found that 42 states and Washington D.C. received failing grades. Mississippi earned a grade of F in the study. No state received a grade higher than "C". Furthermore, due in part to these lax disclosure standards, the study found 35 instances of questionable gifts, investments overlapping with caseloads and similar potential ethical quandaries. The study also noted 14 cases in which justices participated although they or their spouses held stock in the company involved in the litigation.
Removal of justices
"Mississippi judges may be removed on the recommendation of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance, the supreme court may censure, remove, or retire a judge, he or she may be impeached by two thirds of the house of representatives and removed by the senate, or may be removed by the governor on the joint address of two thirds of both houses of the legislature."
The first constitution was created with the creation of the state in 1817. The court was first called the "High Court of Errors and Appeals," and the court's primary role was and is judicial review.
Supreme Court races renews old conflict
Since the state's first constitution was drafted in 1817, Mississippi has struggled over whether to appoint or elect judges. Historically, the fight erupted between three groups—the "aristocrats" who favored the appointment of all judges, the "half hogs" who wanted to elect some judges and have others appointed and the "whole hogs" who wanted all judges elected. History shows that the "whole hogs" won in 1832, and Mississippi has been electing judges ever since. However, because of special interest spending that circumvents campaign finance laws, the battle is no longer between "whole hogs" or "aristocrats," but between pro-trial lawyer and pro-business/medical interests.
- State of Mississippi Judiciary, "Supreme Court"
- Mississippi Secretary of State, "Mississippi Unannotated Code Search"
- State of Mississippi Judiciary, "About the Courts," accessed January 29, 2015
- American Judicature Society, "Methods of Judicial Selection: Mississippi," accessed January 29, 2015
- Mississippi Code, "§ 9-1-103. Vacancy in office," accessed January 29, 2015
- Secretary of State, "Qualifications and Fees for Mississippi Candidates," accessed January 29, 2015
- Mississippi Code, "§ 9-3-11. The chief justice; presiding justices," accessed January 29, 2015
- State of Mississippi Judiciary, "Reports"
- Stanford University, "State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns," October 31, 2012
- Center for Public Integrity, "State supreme court judges reveal scant financial information," December 5, 2013
- American Judicature Society, "Methods of Selection: Removal of Judges"
- Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance
- Insurance Journal, "New Mississippi Supreme Court Building Floods," May 9, 2008
- Clarion Ledger, "Supreme Court Races Will Renew Conflicts," May 9, 2008
|Former||Oliver Diaz • Charles Easley • James Graves • George Carlson • James W. Smith • Michael Mills (Mississippi) • James Coleman •|