Normally you do not get to pick your Judge. In fact, “judge shopping” wherein a suit is filed, you see who it’s assigned to, then dismiss and refile hoping to get a different Judge is unethical and illegal. However, November 4, 2014, is the date that you DO have a say in which Judge will hear your case. This is election day for the Judges that are required to run for their positions.
Most Judges in Mississippi take the bench via election. Judges run in a non-partisan capacity, meaning they are not required to pick a political party, though they can be endorsed by parties, individuals and entities. Judge qualifications differ depending on the seat sought, with age, residency requirements and most positions requiring a law degree and practice experience, but not all.
May 9, is the qualifying deadline for non-partisan Judicial elections. Registration is with the Secretary of State’s Office and a recent list of the those that have qualified thus far has been released.
Most Judges are running unopposed, at least for now, but a few races will be interesting.
- On the Coast, Chancellor Neil Harris, who’s been in the news, has an opponent in local Jackson County Board Attorney, Paula Yancey.
- The 13th Chancery District will have a contested election. Current Chancellor, Joe Dale Walker has some controversy surrounding a recent ruling, as noted here, and faces at least 2 opponents if he chooses to seek re-election. Gerald Martin and Deborah Kennedy have both qualified to run for this seat. The 13th District serves Covington, Jefferson Davis, Lawrence, Simpson and Smith counties.
- Close to home, current Chancellor Janace Harvey-Goree has not yet qualified to run, though attorney Robert G. Clark, III, of Lexington, MS has. Judge Goree sits over Holmes, Yazoo, Madison and Leake counties.
- Also, as of current, no Chancellors in Rankin or Hinds counties have opponents.
Matthew Thompson is a Family Law Attorney, with a statewide practice, reminding you that your vote counts.