Appointments

Mississippi actually has a quasi appointed judiciary.  4 of the 9 Supreme Court Justices were initially appointed to the Court.  5 of the 10 Court of Appeals Judges were initially appointed.

Just this year, the Governor will have a chance to appoint at least three judges.

The Governor has a Judicial Selection Committee, chaired by an outstanding lawyer.  The members of the committee are also respected and outstanding lawyers.  The committee seems to closely examine and consider each applicant.  The committee also seems to  work hard to provide the Governor with a list of “qualified” candidates.

Judge Southwick noted this about this committee in previous administrations:

Though Mississippi has no experience with statutorily required “merit selection,” three governors did voluntarily employ a variant of the approach to fill vacancies. Starting in 1980 with Governor William Winter, a lawyer, and following through the administrations of Governors Bill Allain and Ray Mabus — also lawyers — a committee made recommendations to the governor. The system was not employed by either of the next two governors. Six justices were named: Lenore Prather (1982), James L. Robertson (1983), Mike Sullivan (1984), Joseph Zuccaro (1987), Joel Blass (1989), and Fred Banks (1990). What is striking about this list is that the first woman, a law school professor, an eminent senior member of the Bar, and the second black justice all came out of the committee procedures. The other two were experienced trial judges.

Leslie Southwick, The Least of Evils for Judicial Selection, 21 Miss. C.L. Rev. 209, 215 (2002)

I think it’s true of the committee under Governor Bryant.

I have not undertaken the exact statistical analysis to verify this number.  But, I’ll guess that half of Mississippi’s judges were first appointed to their position and then were reelected.

It’s not actually correct to say that Mississippi has an “elected” judiciary.  We have a judiciary that’s actually half appointed and half elected.

 

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