Plan to prosecute Mississippi judges for their decisions reintroduced

Going back at least as far as the JAIL4Judges effort on the 2006 South Dakota ballot, there have been several legislative efforts to criminally prosecute judges for unpopular decisions. The latest such effort, a repeat from 2012, is in Mississippi.

HCR 10 is a constitutional amendment made up of three parts.

The first grants any qualified elector with at least an Associate’s degree the right to submit a bill draft request to the legislature, which must then draft the bill and consider it.

The second provides any law enforcement officer who commits misconduct, racial misconduct, unnecessary physical abuse or other improper conduct against another shall face a $5,000 fine and be suspended for 30 days.

The third is focused on judges and prosecutors. Under it, any judge who

  • deprives a person of his constitutional or civil rights,
  • abuses or exceeds the authority of his office,
  • does not maintain proper decorum in the court room, or
  • engages in unethical conduct

is to be criminally prosecuted. Conviction of a first offense means a $5,000 fine and a law license suspension for 90 days. Second or subsequent convictions have no fine provision, but would result in suspension of the judge’s law license for 1 year.

Given that judges/justices of the state’s courts (except justices of the peace and municipal courts serving a population below 10,000)  must be attorneys, this would presumably prohibit them from serving as a judge during the duration of the suspension.

HCR 10 is currently pending before the House Constitution Committee.