The Supreme Court has given notice for comments about a change to the Code of Judicial Conduct that would take the appointments to the Special Committee away from the Governor, Lt. Governor, and Speaker, and give these appointments to Presiding Justice Mike Randolph, Presiding Justice Jim Kitchens, Justice Josiah Coleman, and COA Chief Judge Joe Lee. The Chief will retain his selection.
The fact that the Committee members have been selected by individual non-attorney elected officials was probably the only good part of this rule. Last month, the Court admitted that the old rule was flawed and did not have basic due process protections. Now, the Court want’s control of the Committee members. Here is what has been put out for comment.
Comments should be filed with the Clerk of the Supreme Court, Gartin Justice Building, P.O. Box 249, Jackson, Mississippi 39205-0249. Deadline: Tuesday, December 5, 2017.
Canon 5F – Mississippi Code of Judicial Conduct
F. Special Committee–Proceedings and Authority. In every year in which an election is held for Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, chancery court, circuit court or county court judge in this state and at such other times as the Supreme Court may deem appropriate, a Special Committee on Judicial Election Campaign Intervention (“Special Committee”) shall be created whose responsibility shall be to issue advisory opinions and to deal expeditiously with allegations of ethical misconduct in campaigns for judicial office. The committee shall consist of five (5) members. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; the senior justices of Supreme Court Districts 1, 2, and 3, excluding the Chief Justice; and the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals,
the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Mississippi Legislature and the chair of the Commission on Judicial Performance (Commission) shall each appoint one member. T hose appointed by the Chief Justice, the Governor and the chair of the Commission All members shall be attorneys licensed to practice in the state. No person shall be appointed to serve as a member of a Special Committee for the year in which such person is a candidate for judicial office. Should the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court expect to be a candidate for judicial office during the year for which a Special Committee is to be appointed the Chief Justice shall declare such expectation, and in such event, the appointment which otherwise would have been made by the Chief Justice shall be made by the next senior justice of the Supreme Court who is not otherwise charged with appointing authority under this Canon and not seeking judicial office in such year. Should a senior justice of Supreme Court Districts 1, 2, or 3, excluding the Chief Justice, expect to be a candidate for judicial office during such a year, the next senior justice of the same Supreme Court District who is not otherwise charged with appointing authority and is not seeking judicial office shall make the appointment. Likewise, should the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals expect to be a candidate for judicial office during such a year, the next senior judge of the Court of Appeals who is not seeking judicial office shall make the appointment. Likewise, should the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Speaker of the House of Representatives or chair of the Commission expect to seek judicial office during such year, that official shall declare such expectation, and the appointment which otherwise would have been made by such appointing authority shall be made, respectively: by the Lieutenant Governor if the Governor expects to seek such an office; by the President Pro Tem of the Senate if the Lieutenant Governor expects to seek such an office; by the Speaker Pro Tem of the House of Representatives if the Speaker expects to seek such an office; and by the vice-chair of the Commission if the chair expects to seek such an office. Any action taken by the Special Committee shall require a majority vote. Each Special Committee shall be appointed no later than March 1 February 1 in the year of their service, and it shall continue in existence for ninety (90) days following such judicial elections or for so long thereafter as is necessary to consider matters submitted to it within such time. The Commission shall provide administrative support to the Special Committee. Should any appointing authority fail to make an appointment, three members shall constitute a sufficient number to conduct the business of the Special Committee. The objective of the Special Committee shall be to alleviate unethical and unfair campaign practices in judicial elections, and to that end, the Special Committee shall have the following authority: . . .