Justia Mississippi Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Election Law

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Dr. Willie Wilson timely submitted his petition and qualification papers to the Mississippi State Democratic Executive Committee (the “Party”), to run for President in the 2016 Democratic primary. The Party rejected Dr. Wilson’s petition but later reconsidered and requested the Mississippi Secretary of State to place Dr. Wilson’s name on the primary ballot. But, because absentee and overseas military voting had already begun, the Secretary of State refused. The Circuit Court of Hinds County refused to grant Dr. Wilson an injunction and he appealed. Under the particular facts and circumstances of this case, the Supreme Court found that Dr. Wilson’s due process rights were violated, so the Court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Wilson v. Hosemann" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law

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The Union County Election Commission disqualified Roger Browning from running for Union County Superintendent of Education, finding that he was not a qualified elector of the Union County School District. The Circuit Court overturned the Commission’s decision and issued an injunction requiring Browning’s name to be placed on the ballot for the general election. James Basil, the incumbent Union County Superintendent of Education appealed the circuit court’s decision, arguing that Browning did not meet the residency requirement to serve as county superintendent. After review, the Supreme Court held that Browning, a resident of the New Albany Municipal Separate School District, was not eligible to run for Union County Superintendent of Education. Accordingly, the Court reversed the Circuit Court and rendered judgment in Basil’s favor. View "Basil v. Browning" on Justia Law

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Appellee Adrian Shipman filed a Petition Appealing the Attorney General's Ballot Title for Legislative Alternative Measure 42A in the First Judicial District of Hinds County. The petition asked the circuit court to review the ballot title drafted by the Attorney General for the Alternative Measure, which the Legislature proposed as an amendment to Measure 42, itself a ballot measure proposed by petition of qualified electors pursuant to Section 273 of the Mississippi Constitution. Although the Legislature of the State of Mississippi, as appellant, raised several issues, the Mississippi Supreme Court held that the circuit court had no authority to entertain an appeal of the Attorney General's ballot title for a legislatively created amendment to a ballot measure. Accordingly, the Court reversed the circuit court's judgment. View "Legislature of the State of Mississippi v. Shipman" on Justia Law

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In October 2013, William “Bill” Stone moved from Ashland in Benton County to Holly Springs in Marshall County. He sought the Democratic Party nomination for the newly-created Senate District 10, a district which encompassed parts of Marshall County, including Stone’s home in Holly Springs, and parts of Tate County. In 2015, Steve Hale, a resident of Tate County who also sought the Democratic nomination for District 10, filed an objection to Stone’s candidacy with the State of Mississippi Democratic Executive Committee, arguing that Stone was ineligible to run for that office because he did not meet the two-year residency requirement enunciated in Article 4, Section 42, of the Mississippi Constitution. After a hearing, the Executive Committee rejected Hale’s objection and certified that Stone satisfied the qualifications for candidacy. Hale sought judicial review at the Circuit Court. That court held affirmed. Hale then appealed to the Supreme Court. After review, the Supreme Court affirmed the Circuit Court, finding it was not manifest error in that the Circuit Court held Stone had proven that he had established his domicile in Marshall County and that he therefore was qualified to run for the office of senator for District 10. View "Hale v. State of Mississippi Democratic Executive Committee" on Justia Law

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Democratic candidate Bobbie Miller successfully challenged independent incumbent Dimp Powell for the office of mayor of Isola. Prior to the election, the Municipal Election Commission of Isola approved the placement of Miller’s name on the ballot despite the fact that a Democratic Municipal Executive Committee was not in existence by the time of the qualifying deadline for candidates. Powell challenged the Election Commission’s decision in circuit court via a writ of mandamus, requesting the court to order the Commission not to place Miller’s name on the ballot or, in the alternative, to order that any votes cast for Miller not be counted. After an emergency evidentiary hearing, held the week prior to the election, the court denied relief. Powell appealed. The Mississippi Supreme Court held that the circuit court did not have jurisdiction to hear Powell’s challenge via a writ of mandamus. The appropriate procedural mechanism for challenging the decision of a municipal authority was through a bill of exceptions under Mississippi Code Section 11-51-75. The Court affirmed the outcome of the circuit court’s holding. Because the Court affirmed on jurisdictional grounds, it did not reach the merits of whether Miller’s name should not have been permitted on the ballot when there was no Democratic Municipal Executive Committee in existence at the time of the qualifying deadline. View "Powell v. Municipal Election Comm'n Town of Isola" on Justia Law

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On June 24, 2014, Thad Cochran, a Republican nominee for United States Senator, won the Republican primary runoff. His opponent, Chris McDaniel, filed an election contest with the State Republican Executive Committee (SREC) on August 4, 2014 – forty-one days after the election. The SREC declined to consider McDaniel’s complaint, and McDaniel appealed. The trial judge found that McDaniel did not meet the twenty-day deadline to file his election contest and dismissed the case. On appeal, McDaniel argued that no deadline existed to contest a primary election. Under the doctrine of stare decisis, the Supreme Court found that there indeed was a deadline, and McDaniel failed to file his election contest within twenty days. The dismissal was affirmed. View "McDaniel v. Cochran" on Justia Law

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Following the May 7, 2013, Democratic primary for the Ward 5 seat on the Greenwood City Council, the Greenwood Municipal Democratic Executive Committee certified Dorothy Ann Glenn as the winner and thus the Democratic nominee for the Ward 5 seat on the City Council. Runner-up Andrew Powell challenged the election results, contending that Glenn was not a resident of Ward 5 at the time of the election and that she consequently was ineligible to run for that office. Powell sought a special primary runoff election, without Glenn's name on the ballot. The Circuit Court of Leflore County, Special Election Tribunal, found that Glenn was not a resident of Ward 5, held that she was not qualified to hold the position of Greenwood City Council Member for Ward 5, set aside the results of the election, and ordered a special primary runoff election without Glenn's name on the ballot. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part and vacated the order of the circuit court for a special primary runoff election. View "Glenn v. Powell" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law

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Marcus Wallace sought to run as an independent candidate in the June 4, 2013, mayoral election in Edwards, Mississippi. The Edwards Municipal Election Commission declined to place his name on the ballot, questioning the validity of certain signatures on Wallace’s petition for candidacy. Following an emergency appeal to the Supreme Court and a granted writ of mandamus directing the Commission to conduct a hearing, the Commission again denied Wallace’s petition to be placed on the ballot. Because the Supreme Court agreed with the determination of the Special Circuit Judge of the Second Judicial District of Hinds County that the Commission improperly applied Mississippi Code Section 1-3-76 (Rev. 2005), and because the Court found Wallace’s name should have been placed on the mayoral ballot, the Court affirmed. View "Election Commission of the Town of Edwards v. Wallace" on Justia Law

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Gloria Richmond Jackson appealed the Circuit Court Special Judge’s dismissal with prejudice of her petition for judicial review of an election contest, which contested the result of a Democratic primary runoff election. Jackson’s petition was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction, because she failed to attach two attorney certificates to her petition, as required by statute. Upon review, the Supreme Court found that the special judge erred by dismissing Jackson’s petition with prejudice for the nonmerits issue of lack of jurisdiction. Accordingly, the order of dismissal with prejudice was vacated and the case remanded back to the circuit court special judge with instruction to enter an order dismissing this action without prejudice. View "Jackson v. Bell" on Justia Law

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Lessadolla Sowers was convicted in the Tunica County Circuit Court of ten counts of voter fraud as a habitual offender. Mississippi Bureau of Investigations officers determined that a significant number of absentee ballots had been mailed to a post office box held in Sowers's name. She was sentenced to five years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections for each count, with each sentence ordered to run concurrently with the others. Sowers appealed, arguing that the State presented insufficient evidence at trial to sustain the jury's verdicts of guilt on the ten counts of voter fraud and her habitual-offender status. Finding otherwise, the Supreme Court affirmed Sowers's convictions and sentence. View "Sowers v. Mississippi" on Justia Law