Mississippi: Should judges be elected or appointed? If elected, partisan or nonpartisan? Legislation on all sides of issue(s) in legislature this year.

Like many states, Mississippi doesn’t have just one method of judicial selection. It has 4.

  1. Nonpartisan thanks to a major reform effort in 1994 Nonpartisan Judicial Elections Act (Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Circuit, Chancery, County)
  2. Partisan (Justice)
  3. Appointment and reappointment (Municipal Courts in municipalities over 10,000)
  4. Optional elections (Municipal Courts in municipalities under 10,000)

And like many states Mississippi is engaged in a debate of how best to place judges on the various benches.

HB 496: revert to partisan elections for courts currently subject to nonpartisan races. The Speaker of the House voiced his support for a return to pre-1994 partisan judicial elections. Nevertheless, the bill was tabled (i.e. killed) last week in the House Judiciary A committee.

HB 960: require municipal court judges be elected in municipalities over 10,000. Continue local-option of election vs. appointment in municipalities under 10,000. In House Apportionment and Elections committee.

HB 1256: make Justice court races nonpartisan. Mandate that position is part-time and allow judges of the court to practice law. In House Judiciary A committee.