The Supreme Court just issued the following order in Ricky W. Ward v. Dororthy Winston Colom, No. 2016-M-01072.
This matter is before the Court en bane on the Petition for Writ of Prohibition filed by Petitioner and the Response filed by the Chancellors of the Fourteenth Chancery Court District. Petitioner asks that this Court declare that the Order of the Lowndes County Chancery Court, “In Re: Concealed Weapons in Courthouses,” filed on November 28, 2011, in cause no. 2003-0412, is unconstitutional and void ab initio. Petitioner further asks that any similar order entered by the Chancellors of the Fourteenth Chancery Court District, or any other court within the State of Mississippi, be enjoined. After due consideration of this matter, the Court finds that additional briefing is necessary in this matter.
Briefing is required to address the following issues:
1) What is the authority of judges to exercise control over security issues beyond the four walls of the courtroom itself?
2) Whether the judiciary has the inherent authority to exercise control of security extending beyond the four walls of a courtroom.
3) Whether Mississippi Code Section 97-3 7-7 (2) prohibits judges from controlling courthouse security. Specifically, what is the definition of “courtrooms during a judicial proceeding,” and does that definition either allow or prohibit judges from exercising control of security beyond the four walls of a specific courtroom while court is in session.
4) If Mississippi Code Section 97-37-7(2) does prohibit judges from exercising control over courthouse security, whether it violates the separation of powers doctrine.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the Attorney General, the Petitioners, and the Chancery Court Judges of the 14th Judicial District are directed to file briefs, due on the following schedule:
Within thirty days of the date of this order, the Attorney General shall file its brief, not to exceed twenty-five pages;
Within thirty days of the service of Attorney General’s brief, the Petitioner and the Chancery Court Judges of the 14th Judicial District shall each file a brief responding to the Attorney General’s brief, not to exceed twenty-five pages;
Within fourteen days of the service of the responsive briefs, the Attorney General may file a reply brief, not to exceed ten pages.
Also within fourteen days of the service of the responsive briefs, any amicus curiae may file a brief, not to exceed twenty-five pages.
The Clerk of this Court shall send a copy of this order to the Attorney General, the Petitioner, the Chancery Court Judges of the 14th Judicial District, the Mississippi Conference of Chancery Judges, the Mississippi Conference of Circuit Court Judges, and the Mississippi Conference of County Court Judges.