Judicial Campaign – Relevant Statutes

The following are some statutes that relate to judicial elections.

The Mississippi “general laws for the election of state officers shall apply to and govern the election of judges of the Supreme Court.” MCA § 23-15-995 (See 23-15-974 through 23-15-985).

§ 23-15-973. Opportunities for candidates to address people during court terms; restrictions with respect to political affiliations; penalties for violations

It shall be the duty of the judges of the circuit court to give a reasonable time and opportunity to the candidates for the office of judge of the Supreme Court, judges of the Court of Appeals, circuit judge and chancellor to address the people during court terms. In order to give further and every possible emphasis to the fact that the said judicial offices are not political but are to be held without favor and with absolute impartiality as to all persons, and because of the jurisdiction conferred upon the courts by this chapter, the judges thereof should be as far removed as possible from any political affiliations or obligations. It shall be unlawful for any candidate for any of the offices mentioned in this section to align himself with any candidate or candidates for any other office or with any political faction or any political party at any time during any primary or general election campaign. Likewise it shall be unlawful for any candidate for any other office nominated or to be nominated at any primary election, wherein any candidate for any of the judicial offices in this section mentioned, is or are to be nominated, to align himself with any one or more of the candidates for said offices or to take any part whatever in any nomination for any one or more of said judicial offices, except to cast his individual vote. Any candidate for any office, whether nominated with or without opposition, at any primary wherein a candidate for any one of the judicial offices herein mentioned is to be nominated who shall deliberately, knowingly and willfully violate the provisions of this section shall forfeit his nomination, or if elected at the following general election by virtue of said nomination, his election shall be void.

HISTORY: SOURCES: Derived from § 23-3-63 Codes, 1942, § 3191; Laws, 1935, ch. 19; repealed by Laws, 1986, ch. 495, § 333; en, Laws, 1986, ch. 495, § 296; Laws, 1994, ch 564, § 93, eff from and after September 6, 1994 (the date the United States Attorney General interposed no objection to the amendment of this section).

§ 23-15-975. “Judicial office” defined; positions deemed positions as full-time positions; prohibition against practice of law

As used in Sections 23-15-974 through 23-15-985 of this subarticle, the term “judicial office” includes the office of justice of the Supreme Court, judge of the Court of Appeals, circuit judge, chancellor, county court judge and family court judge. All such justices and judges shall be full-time positions and such justices and judges shall not engage in the practice of law before any court, administrative agency or other judicial or quasi-judicial forum except as provided by law for finalizing pending cases after election to judicial office.

§ 23-15-976. Judicial office deemed nonpartisan office; candidate for judicial office prohibited from campaigning or qualifying for office based on party affiliation; prohibition on political party fund-raising, campaigning, or contributions on behalf of candidate for judicial office

A judicial office is a nonpartisan office and a candidate for election thereto is prohibited from campaigning or qualifying for such an office based on party affiliation. The Legislature finds that in order to ensure that campaigns for nonpartisan judicial office remain nonpartisan and without any connection to a political party, political parties and any committee or political committee affiliated with a political party shall not engage in fund-raising on behalf of a candidate or officeholder of a nonpartisan judicial office, nor shall a political party or any committee or political committee affiliated with a political party make any contribution to a candidate for nonpartisan judicial office or the political committee of a candidate for nonpartisan judicial office, nor shall a political party or any committee or political committee affiliated with a political party publicly endorse any candidate for nonpartisan judicial office. No candidate or candidate’s political committee for nonpartisan judicial office shall accept a contribution from a political party or any committee or political committee affiliated with a political party.

HISTORY: SOURCES: Laws, 1994, ch 564, § 78; Laws, 1999, ch. 301, § 16, eff from and after January 15, 1999 (the date the United States Attorney General interposed no objection under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, to the amendment of this section.)

§ 23-15-977. Filing of intent to be candidate and fees by candidates for judicial office; notification of county commissioners of filings; procedures to be followed if there is only one candidate who becomes disqualified from holding judicial office after filing deadline

(1) Except as otherwise provided in this section, all candidates for judicial office as defined in Section 23-15-975 of this subarticle shall file their intent to be a candidate with the proper officials not later than 5:00 p.m. on the first Friday after the first Monday in May prior to the general election for judicial office and shall pay to the proper officials the following amounts:

   (a) Candidates for Supreme Court judge and Court of Appeals, the sum of Two Hundred Dollars ($ 200.00).

   (b) Candidates for circuit judge and chancellor, the sum of One Hundred Dollars ($ 100.00).

   (c) Candidates for county judge and family court judge, the sum of Fifteen Dollars ($ 15.00).

Candidates for judicial office may not file their intent to be a candidate and pay the proper assessment before January 1 of the year in which the election for the judicial office is held.

(2) Candidates for judicial offices listed in paragraphs (a) and (b) of subsection (1) of this section shall file their intent to be a candidate with, and pay the proper assessment made pursuant to subsection (1) of this section to, the State Board of Election Commissioners.

(3) Candidates for judicial offices listed in paragraph (c) of subsection (1) of this section shall file their intent to be a candidate with, and pay the proper assessment made pursuant to subsection (1) of this section to, the circuit clerk of the proper county. The circuit clerk shall notify the county commissioners of election of all persons who have filed their intent to be a candidate with, and paid the proper assessment to, such clerk. Such notification shall occur within two (2) business days and shall contain all necessary information.

(4) If only one (1) person files his intent to be a candidate for a judicial office and that person subsequently dies, resigns or is otherwise disqualified from holding the judicial office after the deadline provided for in subsection (1) of this section but more than seventy (70) days before the date of the general election, the Governor, upon notification of the death, resignation or disqualification of the person, shall issue a proclamation authorizing candidates to file their intent to be a candidate for that judicial office for a period of not less than seven (7) nor more than ten (10) days from the date of the proclamation.

(5) If only one (1) person qualifies as a candidate for a judicial office and that person subsequently dies, resigns or is otherwise disqualified from holding the judicial office within seventy (70) days before the date of the general election, the judicial office shall be considered vacant for the new term and the vacancy shall be filled as provided in by law.

HISTORY: SOURCES: Laws, 1994, ch 564, § 79; Laws, 2000, ch. 592, § 15; Laws, 2010, ch. 379, § 1; Laws, 2011, ch. 509, § 1, eff July 26, 2011 (the date the United States Attorney General interposed no objection under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, to the amendment of this section.)

§ 23-15-977.1. Signing oath to abide by election laws

   Simultaneously with filing the required documents to seek election for a judicial office, the candidate shall sign the following pledge under oath and under penalty of perjury:
   “State of Mississippi
   County of     
   I, (name of candidate) , do solemnly swear or affirm under penalty of 
perjury that I will faithfully abide by all laws, canons and regulations 
applicable to elections for judicial office, understanding that a campaign for 
a judicial office should reflect the dignity, responsibility and professional 
character that a person chosen for a judicial office should possess.
                                                    (signature of candidate)   
                                                         (name of candidate)   
   Sworn to and subscribed before me, this the day          of     ,     .
                                                                                
                                                Notary Public or other official
                                                authorized to administer oaths”

HISTORY: SOURCES: Laws, 1999, ch. 301, § 3, eff from and after January 15, 1999 (the date the United States Attorney General interposed no objection under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, to the addition of this section.)

 

§ 23-15-979. Order for listing on ballot of names of candidates for judicial office; references to political party affiliation

   The names of all candidates for judicial office shall be listed in alphabetical order on any ballot and no reference to political party affiliation shall appear on any ballot with respect to any nonpartisan judicial office or candidate.

HISTORY: SOURCES: Laws, 1994, ch 564, § 81, eff from and after September 6, 1994 (the date the United States Attorney General interposed no objection to the addition of this section).


§ 23-15-981. Two or more candidates qualify for judicial office; majority vote wins; runoff election
 If two (2) or more candidates qualify for judicial office, the names of those candidates shall be placed on the general election ballot. If any candidate for such an office receives a majority of the votes cast for such office in the general election, he shall be declared elected. If no candidate for such office receives a majority of the votes cast for such office in the general election, the names of the two (2) candidates receiving the highest number of votes for such office shall be placed on the ballot for a second election to be held three (3) weeks later in accordance with appropriate procedures followed in other elections involving runoff candidates.

HISTORY: SOURCES: Laws, 1994, ch 564, § 83; Laws, 2007, ch. 434, § 3, eff June 15, 2007 (the date the United States Attorney General interposed no objection under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, to the amendment of this section.)

§ 23-15-985. Electors qualified to vote for candidates for nomination for judicial office

  In any election for judicial office, all qualified electors, regardless of party affiliation or lack thereof, shall be qualified to vote for candidates for nomination for judicial office.

HISTORY: SOURCES: Laws, 1994, ch 564, § 87, eff from and after September 6, 1994 (the date the United States Attorney General interposed no objection to the addition of this section).

§ 23-15-1025. Distribution of campaign materials.

If any material is distributed by a judicial candidate or his campaign committee or any other person or entity, or at the request of the candidate, his campaign committee or any other person or entity distributing the material shall state that it is distributed by the candidate or that it is being distributed with the candidate’s approval. All such material shall conspicuously identify who has prepared the material and who is distributing the material. The identifying language shall state whether or not the material has been submitted to and approved by the candidate. If the candidate has not approved the material, the material shall so state. The identity of organizations or committees shall state the names of all officers of the organizations or committees. Any person, who violates the provisions of this section, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be punished by a fine of One Thousand Dollars ($ 1,000.00) or by imprisonment for six (6) months or both fine and imprisonment.”

 

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