EDITORIAL/Griffis for Supreme Court
Wednesday, November 2, 2016 6:00 PM
The race for Mississippi Supreme Court directly impacts everyone in Mississippi. With the longest elected term in Mississippi government (eight years), the decision on who sits on the high court is a serious choice on which voters should consider and turn out to the polls on Nov. 8.
There are two candidates in the race. Incumbent Justice Jim Kitchens served as a district attorney in the 1970s in Copiah County, but since then and prior to his election in 2008 his private legal practice focused largely on criminal defense and civil litigation. Such is reflected in his rulings where he often dissents from the conservatives on the Court in an attempt to expand the scope of lawsuits, and rewrite criminal procedure from the bench to the benefit of those convicted of crimes. We have found him to be a congenial and funny man with fantastic good-ole-boy stories to tell. But the Supreme Court is more important than back-slapping funny stories.
Challenging Kitchens is Court of Appeals Judge Kenny Griffis. Griffis has twice the judicial experience as Kitchens and a much more conservative record. He has support from law enforcement and prosecutors in the district and has been endorsed by associations representing small business, physicians, farmers and manufacturers.
Judges technically run nonpartisan races, but the Mississippi Republican Party has endorsed Griffis, while the Mississippi Democratic Party has endorsed no one.
Judge Griffis has pledged to work to reform judicial campaigns with stronger campaign finance disclosure and rules that prevent shady attempts at buying judicial elections.
Justice Kitchens campaigned on that same issue eight years ago, but has done nothing about it. We think we should give Judge Griffis a chance.
In response to a case that took eight years to work through the process, Justice Kitchens said everyone in the criminal justice system “should be ashamed of the systemic failure” and said everyone should “rededicate ourselves to a resolute determination that such a thing will never happen again.”
But it did.
Eighteen months later a newspaper reported on someone being held for nearly 4,000 days without a trial. Justice Kitchens was quick to lay blame, but appears to have done nothing about it.
However, Judge Griffis came forward with a plan for the Supreme Court to use the Administrative Office of the Courts to ensure the quick dispatch of justice. We think we should give Judge Griffis a chance.
Judge Kenny Griffis has twice the judicial experience of Justice Jim Kitchens. Griffis has a conservative record and builds consensus on the Court of Appeals, while Kitchens disproportionately writes liberal dissents and attempts to move the Court to the left.
Both these candidates are good men.
Justice Kitchens and his wife have five children and 12 grandchildren and we’re a big fan of his piano playing, something he has highlighted in his campaign videos. He is a native of Crystal Springs.
Judge Griffis and his wife also have five children and in addition to his work on the judiciary, has been active in youth sports in Madison County as both a coach and – fittingly for a judge – a referee. He is a native of Meridian and now lives in Ridgeland.
Vote Judge Kenny Griffis for the Mississippi Supreme Court on Nov. 8.