Special Committee on Judicial Election Campaign Intervention


The Special Committee on Judicial Election Campaign Intervention

The Special Committee on Judicial Election Campaign Intervention is created under the authority of Canon 5F of the Mississippi Code of Judicial Conduct.

Members

The members of the 2018 Special Committee include:
Presiding Judge T. Kenneth Griffis, Jr., Chair, Ridgeland
Judge Ronald Doleac, Secretary, Hattiesburg
Kimberly L. Campbell, Jackson
Everett T. Sanders, Natchez
Thomas A. Wicker, Tupelo

Canon 5F

Authority

The Special Committee shall be created whose responsibility shall be to issue advisory opinions and to deal expeditiously with allegations of ethical misconduct in campaigns for judicial office. The objective of the Special Committee shall be to alleviate unethical and unfair campaign practices in judicial elections.

Proceedings of Special Committee

Within ten (10) days after formally announcing or officially qualifying for election to any judicial office, all candidates, including incumbent judges, shall forward written notice of such candidacy, together with an appropriate mailing address and telephone number, to the Commission on Judicial Performance, 660 North Street, Suite 104, Jackson, MS 39202.

Upon receipt of such notice, the Special Committee shall distribute to candidate copies of Canon 5 of the Code of Judicial Conduct; summaries of any previous opinions issued by the Special Committee, Special Committees organized for prior elections, or the Supreme Court of Mississippi, which relate in any way to campaign conduct and practices; and a form acknowledgment.

2018 Candidate Information

Each candidate shall promptly return the form acknowledgment to the Commission and therein certify that the candidate has read and understands the materials forwarded and agrees to be bound by such standards during the course of the campaign. The failure to comply constitute a per se violation of this Section authorizing the Committee to immediately publicize such failure to all candidates in such race and to all appropriate media outlets.

Opinions

In the event of a question relating to conduct during a judicial campaign, judicial candidates, their campaign organizations, and all independent persons, committees and organizations are encouraged to seek an opinion from the Special Committee before such conduct occurs. Opinions as to the propriety of any act or conduct by a judicial candidate, a candidate’s campaign organization or an independent person, committee or organization conducting activities which impact on the election and as to the construction or application of Canon 5 may be provided by the Special Committee upon request from any judicial candidate, campaign organization or an independent person, committee or organization.

  • If the Special Committee finds the question of limited significance, it may provide an informal opinion to the questioner.

  • If the Special Committee finds the questions of sufficient general interest and importance, it may render a formal opinion, in which event it shall cause the opinion to be published in complete or synopsis form.

  • The Special Committee may issue formal opinions on its own motion under such circumstances, as it finds appropriate.

  • The Special Committee may decline to issue an opinion when a majority of the Special Committee members determine that it would be inadvisable to respond to the request and to have so confirmed in writing their reasoning to the person who requested the opinion.

All formal opinions of the Special Committee shall be filed with the Supreme Court and shall be a matter of public record except for the names of the persons involved, which shall be excised. Formal and informal opinions shall be advisory only; however, the Commission on Judicial Performance, the Supreme Court and all other regulatory and enforcement authorities shall consider reliance by a judicial candidate upon the Special Committee opinion in any disciplinary or enforcement proceeding.

Complaints

Upon receipt of a written complaint that alleges a violation by a judicial candidate of any provision of Canon 5 during the course of a campaign for judicial office, or indicating actions by any person, committee or organization which is contrary to Canon 5, the Commission shall immediately forward a copy of the allegation by e-mail, and U.S. mail to the Special Committee members and the judicial candidate. The Special Committee shall:

(a) in a manner which comports with due process, provide the candidate with a list of provisions he or she is accused of violating, and provide the candidate an opportunity to respond;

(b) seek, from the informing party and/or the subject of the information, such further information on the allegations as it deems necessary;

(c) conduct such additional investigation as the Committee may deem necessary;

(d) determine whether the allegations warrant speedy intervention and, if so, immediately issue a confidential cease-and-desist request to the candidate and/or organization or independent committee or organization believed to be engaging in unethical and/or unfair campaign practices. If the Committee determines that the unethical and/or unfair campaign practice is of a serious and damaging nature, the Committee may, in its discretion, disregard the issuance of a cease-and-desist request and immediately take action authorized by the provisions of paragraph (3)(e)(i) and (ii), hereafter described. If the allegations of the complaint do not warrant intervention, the Committee shall dismiss the same and so notify the complaining party.

(e) If a cease-and-desist request is disregarded or if the unethical or unfair campaign practices otherwise continue, the Committee is further authorized:

(i) to immediately release to all appropriate media outlets, as well as the reporting party and the person and/or organization against whom the information is submitted, a public statement setting out the violations believed to exist, or, in the case of independent persons, committees or organizations, the actions by an independent person, committee or organization which are contrary to the limitations placed upon candidates by Canon 5. In the event that the violations or actions have continued after the imposition of the cease and desist request, the media release shall also include a statement that the candidate and/or organization or independent person, committee or organization has failed to honor the cease-and-desist request, and

(ii) to refer the matter to the Commission on Judicial Performance or to any other appropriate regulatory or enforcement authority for such action as may be appropriate under the applicable rules.

Nature and Timeliness of Proceedings

All proceedings under this Rule shall be informal and non-adversarial, and the Special Committee shall act on all requests within ten (10) days of receipt, either in person, by facsimile, by U.S. mail, or by telephone. In any event, the Special Committee shall act as soon as possible taking into consideration the exigencies of the circumstances and, as to requests received during the last ten (10) days of the campaign, shall act within thirty-six (36) hours.

Confidentiality

The proceedings of the Special Committee shall remain confidential, and in no event shall the Special Committee have the authority to institute disciplinary action against any candidate for judicial office, which power is specifically reserved to the Commission on Judicial Performance under applicable rules.

Scope

This Canon 5F shall apply to all candidates for judicial offices of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, chancery courts, circuit courts and county courts, be they incumbent judges or not, and to the families and campaign/solicitation committees of all such candidates.

Campaign Seminar

Every candidate for judicial offices and candidates’ election committee chairperson, or the chairperson’s designee, shall no later than 20 days after the qualifying date for candidates complete a two-hour course on campaign practices, finance, and ethics sponsored and approved by the Committee. Within ten days of completing the course, candidates shall certify to Committee that they have completed the course and understand fully the requirements of Mississippi law and the Code of Judicial Conduct concerning campaign practices for judicial office. Candidates without opposition are exempt from attending the course.

Campaign Seminar is scheduled for May 18, 2018 at 1:30 p.m. in the auditorium at the Mississippi College School of Law, 151 East Griffith Street, Jackson, Mississippi.

Links:

Canon 5 of the Mississippi Code of Judicial Conduct

2018 Decisions of the Special Committee

2018-01
2018-02
2018-03
2018-04
2018-05
2018-06
2018-07
2018-08
2018-09
2018-10
2018-11
2018-12
2018-13
2018-14
2018-15
2018-16
2018-17
2018-18
2018-19
2018-20
2018-21
2018-22
2018-23
2018-24
2018-25
2018-26
2018-27
2018-26 Public Statement
2018-27 Public Statement

Prior Special Committee Annual Reports and Decisions

Any questions, requests for opinions, or complaints should be addressed to:
Special Committee on Judicial Election Intervention
Attn: Darlene Ballard, Executive Director
Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance
660 North Street, Suite 104
Jackson, MS 39202
Telephone: (601) 359-1273 • Fax: (601) 354-6277
Email: Ballard@judicialperformance.ms.gov