Category Archives: Opinion

The Race is ON! Electing Judges Mississippi style.

In Mississippi we pick our judges like we pick class favorites. The winner is whoever gets the most votes. The qualifying deadline passed, just minutes ago, and below are your candidates.

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This post is focused on certain Family Law Judge races primarily, because that is what I primarily do. I will expound on other judicial races in future posts. This link will take you to all of the candidates.

Races to Watch.

HINDS COUNTY

Chancery Court Judge Sub 5-1

Dewayne Thomas 

Unopposed. Congratulations Judge Thomas.

Chancery Court Judge Sub 5-2

Patricia Wise – Current Chancellor – Withdrawn

The rumor mill had her retiring effective the end of this year and that appears true as she is not listed among the candidates.

Reginald Harrion 

Qualified early and is in it to win it.

Crystal Wise Martin

Recently qualified. Interestingly, this is Judge Wise’s daughter. She was technically running against her mother for a few weeks.

Chancery Court Judge Sub 5-3

Denise Owens 

Unopposed. The current Senior Chancellor is signing  up for 4 more years. Congratulations Judge Owens

Chancery Court Judge Sub 5-4

Steven P. Nixon 

Qualified early and was hoping to be the only candidate in the field. However, three additional candidates qualified to run for this spot this week. This is an Open seat due to Judge Singletary’s announced retirement.

Tiffany Grove

Qualified this week.

Monique Brown-Barrett

Qualified this week.

Ottawa Carter, Jr. 

Qualified this week.

RANKIN COUNTY

Chancery Court Judge 20, 1

John C. McLaurin, Jr. 

Unopposed. Congratulations Judge McLaurin.

Chancery Court Judge 20, 1

Tamekia Cooper Bennett

Mel Coxwell

Troy Odom

Place 2 is the race to watch in Rankin. Judicial stalwart John Grant is retiring.

Chancery Court Judge 20, 3

Haydn J. Roberts 

Unopposed. Congratulations Judge Roberts

LAUDERDALE COUNTY

Chancery Court Judge 12 – 1 (includes other areas)

Charles E. “Charlie” Smith
Frances Smith Stephenson 

This should be a tight race. This is an open seat due to Judge Mason’s retirement. The winner will have big shoes to fill with Mason’s retirement, but will have perhaps the best asset possible across the hall for all things Chancery, their colleague Judge Larry Primeaux.

LEFLORE COUNTY

Chancery Court Judge 7, Sub 7-2 (includes additional Delta counties)

Katherine Tackett Mills 
Willie J. Perkins, Sr. 
Richard W. Ryals, II

This is an open seat due to Judge Barnwell’s retirement.

SIMPSON COUNTY

Chancery Court Judge 13, 1

David Shoemake

Allen Buffington

Judge Shoemake had an opponent early on who withdrew to run for Andy Gipson’s position once Gipson was elevated (removed) from the legislature. Buffington is a familiar name, but it is NOT the previous Judge Buffington, that was Larry. This will be an interesting race to watch. Shoemake has some weak spots…

THE COAST

Chancery Court Judge 8, 3

Margaret Alfonso 
Diane Herman Ellis
Sanford R. (Sandy) Steckler

This race is exciting because of the candidates. Judge Steckler is the incumbent. Judge Alfonso is a former Chancellor who left Chancery for Youth Court (County Court) and is now running. This makes a very recent former Chancellor against a current Chancellor and they actually served together.

Attorney Ellis, a practitioner, has some acclaim for a case of first impression in Mississippi that ultimately made law that a child born of the marriage, of a same-sex marriage is of the marriage, even though genetic material may have come from a different source.

There are other hotly contested races in Starkville, Hattiesburg, the Coast and other judicial positions. Stay tuned for the 411!

Matthew Thompson is a lawyer and will likely run for judge in 15-25 years. It’s never too early to start campaigning!

Where to Get a Divorce…When you Cannot Get a Divorce in Mississippi.

It could be IMPOSSIBLE to get a divorce in Mississippi!

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Mississippi is one of two States that requires either an Agreement to all issues to get a divorce or absent that complete agreement, requires corroborated proof of fault grounds against your spouse.

So, if your spouse does not agree for any reasons you must have fault grounds. However, all is not lost. Lots of conduct, bad conduct, could be considered fault grounds…

Additionally, you can leave the state. While not always a great option it can work and in a few circumstances, Mississippi law would “require” it if you had to have a divorce.

48 other states essentially provide if you want a divorce you can get a divorce, but they also have certain jurisdictional/residency requirements to be able to seek relief from those Courts.

Mississippi requires you be a resident for 6 months, with the intent to remain and you may not move here for the purpose of seeking a divorce, not that any sane person would.

Washington State: No minimum in-state residency requirement.
Wyoming: None if the marriage occurred in the state and the filing spouse has lived in Wyoming since the marriage date. Otherwise, 60 days.

Nevada: 45 days
Spouse filing for divorce must plan to live in state indefinitely.
Must file sworn affidavit from a Nevada resident having personal knowledge of the filing spouse meeting the minimum residency requirement.

Alabama: No in-state minimum if both spouses live in state. 180 days if only one spouse lives in state.

I have included other states for informational purposes only. I am only licensed in Mississippi and cannot give advice regarding other state laws. The link provided was found on the internet! Caveat emptor!

Matthew Thompson is a family law attorney in Mississippi and supports a “walking around sense” change to Mississippi law.

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How to Pick a Candidate…

It’s election season. Candidates are coming out of the woodwork for senate, congress, and judicial seats. Here’s a primer on picking a candidate.

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  • Do they have Experience?
    • This does not mean that they must have served in the position being sought, but does their work experience, life experience, education and training lend itself to the seat?
  • Are they Competent?
    • Experience is good, but it needs to be good experience. We all know that person that received opportunities because of connections, or who their uncle knew. Merely having experience may not be enough if you are merely a figurehead or placeholder.
    • The candidate should know what the position requires and should possess the needed traits to fill the spot.
  • Do they meet the Requirements?
    • For may positions there is age, residency and education requirements. It is fair to inquire if the bare minimums are met.
  • Why are they Running?
    • Is it for prestige or ego? Is it because they can make a difference.
    • Ask the candidate, ” Why are you Running?”
  • Are they a Good Person?
    • You can have plenty of experience, meet the requirements, be competent and still not be the best candidate. There is an intangible, hard to measure judgment of candidates. This is about their honesty, integrity and is the person they portray really the person that they are?

These are just some of the criteria that should be considered when choosing a candidate. We all have an obligation to meet the candidates, engage the process, ask questions and care. These elections impact our lives whether we realize it or not.

Matthew Thompson is a family law attorney and is excited about the campaign season and if all else fails you can still “eeny, meeny, miney, moe” to pick your slate.

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