INVESTITURE CEREMONY
CHIEF JUSTICE EDWIN LLOYD PITTMAN
MISSISSIPPI SUPREME COURT
JANUARY 22, 2001

      THANK YOU JUSTICE BANKS AND JUSTICE McRAE AND MY OTHER COLLEAGUES ON THE COURT FOR YOUR PARTICIPATION IN THIS CEREMONY.

      GOVERNOR MUSGROVE, DR. KHAYAT, LT. GOV. TUCK, SPEAKER FORD, SECRETARY OF STATE CLARK, GENERAL MOORE,. . . .

      OTHER DISTINGUISHED OFFICIALS, I THANK YOU FOR YOUR PRESENCE AND FOR YOUR EXCELLENT SUPPORT, AND COOPERATION WITH THE JUDICIARY.

      I MUST TAKE A MOMENT FOR PERSONAL COMMENT. NINE TIMES I HAVE CAMPAIGNED FOR PUBLIC OFFICE AND I OWE SO MUCH TO SO MANY THAT I CANNOT HOPE TO ACKNOWLEDGE YOU ALL OR THANK YOU BY NAME. SUFFICE IT TO SAY THAT ALL MISSISSIPPIANS HAVE BEEN GOOD TO ME. YOU AND THOUSANDS OF OTHERS HAVE PERMITTED ME TO SERVE IN ALL 3 BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT -- MISSISSIPPIANS HAVE HELPED ME WITH THEIR ADVISE AND HONORED ME WITH THEIR VOTES. I SHALL FOREVER BE INDEBTED TO THIS WONDERFUL STATE FOR ITS GOODNESS TO ME AND MY FAMILY AND INDEBTED TO YOU THAT YOU HAVE ALLOWED ME TO SERVE.

       THERE IS A GROUP THAT I MUST SINGLE OUT -- MY FAMILY. JUSTICE WALLER HAS ALLUDED TO MY LEGAL LEGACY -- AND I THANK HIM FOR THAT -- BUT MY TRAINING AND SUPPORT IS LARGER THAN JUST LAW.

       PRESENT IN THIS ROOM ARE UNCLES, AUNTS AND COUSINS, WHO FOR A LIFE TIME AND CERTAINLY IN MY CAMPAIGNS STARTING IN 1963 IN ONE COUNTY -- THREE DISTRICT RACES --- AND IN 5 STATE WIDE RACES -- HAVE STOOD WITH ME IN VICTORY AND IN DEFEAT AND IN MY PUBLIC SERVICE AND I APPRECIATE THEIR EFFORTS AND THANK THEM FOR THEIR SUPPORT AND LOVE.

       PRESENT IN THIS ROOM IS MY BROTHER REID AND HIS WIFE CAROLYN AND MY TWO SISTERS --- MARY ANN FRANCIS AND HUSBAND GENE, AND MY SISTER JOYCE TADLOCK AND HER HUSBAND, JOHN --- AND SEVERAL OF THEIR CHILDREN, MY NIECES AND NEPHEWS ARE PRESENT --- AND HAVE ALL DEFENDED ME WHEN NECESSARY AND SUPPORTED ME ALWAYS. TO THESE FAMILY MEMBERS AND MY PARENTS -- BOTH NOW DECEASED -- I THANK YOU FOR YOUR CARE, COMFORT, AND NURTURE --- FROM CHILDHOOD TO THE PRESENT. I COULD NOT HAVE BETTER HELP OR BETTER SUPPORT. THANK YOU.

       LASTLY, THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE. THOSE WHO WERE PRESENT THROUGH IT ALL, THE HEART BREAK AND THE ELATION -- THOSE WHO ADVISED AND CARED -- WHO LITERALLY WON AND LOST WITH ME DAILY. OUR DAUGHTER MELANIE WAKELAND AND HER HUSBAND JOHN, AND HER THREE CHILDREN, OUR GRANDCHILDREN, BARBARA, LUCY, AND TREY ---- OUR SON EDWIN PITTMAN, JR. (WIN) AND HIS SONS EDWIN PITTMAN THE III AND CHRISTIAN REID. OUR DAUGHTER JENNIFER - NINE YEARS NOW A TEACHER AT NORTHWEST RANKIN. OUR DAUGHTER BETSY McCLENDON AND HER HUSBAND JOHN, AND THEIR SONS CONNER AND BILL.

       FINALLY, THOUGH, INDEED SURELY FIRST IN MY LIFE, MY WIFE VIRGINIA. VIRGINIA IS A CARING AND SUPPORTIVE AND BEAUTIFUL PERSON WHO IS TRULY AN EQUAL PARTNER.

       TO ALL OF MY FAMILY ---- THANK YOU. AND TO OUR FRIENDS WHO HAVE GATHERED, I THANK YOU FOR THESE MOMENTS OF PERSONAL PRIVILEGE AND PLEASURE.

       THE TASK AT HAND, LEADING THE JUDICIARY, REQUIRES FRANK AND OPEN DISCUSSION USING NOT ANY LEGALESE BUT PLAIN TALK.

       THE JUDICIAL ELECTIONS OF 1996 AND OF 2000 HAVE BROUGHT TO OUR STATE HARSH AND SOMETIMES DISTASTEFUL "POLITICAL" ADVERTISING IN A JUDICIAL ELECTION NOT BEFORE SEEN IN MISSISSIPPI. IN 1996 AND AGAIN IN THE YEAR 2000, WE SAW SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS OPENLY SUPPORTING CANDIDATES AND SPENDING VERY LARGE AMOUNTS OF MONEY TO PROMOTE THEIR SPECIAL INTEREST.

       JUDGES --- JUDGES AT ALL LEVELS -- JUSTICE COURT, COUNTY, CIRCUIT, CHANCERY, AND THE APPELLATE LEVEL MUST NOT HAVE ANY CONSTITUENCY EXCEPT THE LAW AND THE PUBLIC GOOD. JUDGES MUST NOT REPRESENT ANY SEGMENT OF SOCIETY BUT SOCIETY IN ITS ENTIRETY. JUDGES MUST NOT FAVOR DEFENDANTS NOR PLAINTIFFS BUT FAVOR FAIRNESS TO ALL PEOPLE AND FAITHFULNESS TO THE LAWS OF MISSISSIPPI AND THE CONSTITUTION OF MISSISSIPPI AND THE UNITED STATES. WE MUST SERVE WITHOUT ATTENTION TO ORGANIZATIONS OR SPECIAL INTEREST.

       WHILE THE PLAINTIFFS BAR, THE DEFENSE BAR, BUSINESS ORGANIZATIONS OR SOCIAL ORGANIZATIONS ARE EXCELLENT SPOKESMEN FOR THEIR MEMBERS AND THEY OFTEN DO VERY GOOD WORK FOR THEIR MEMBERS, JUDGES SPEAK FOR A MUCH GREATER NUMBER OF PEOPLE --- AND FOR A MUCH GREATER GOOD. SIMPLY OUR ONLY CONSTITUENCY MUST BE JUSTICE FOR ALL PEOPLE.

       WHAT CAN WE DO TO KEEP OUR SYSTEM OF JUSTICE PURE?

       THERE ARE NO JUDICIAL ELECTIONS IN 2001. IT MUST BE A TIME TO REPAIR THE WALL OF PROTECTION FOR JUSTICE FOR ALL MISSISSIPPIANS.

       I HAVE DISCUSSED WITH THE LT. GOVERNOR AND THE SPEAKER THE CREATION OF A BROADLY BASED COMMISSION TO QUICKLY STUDY THE NEEDS OF THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM, INCLUDING THE MANNER OF SELECTION OF JUDGES, THE MANNER OF CAMPAIGNING, RULES GOVERNING JUDICIAL CONDUCT, AND IN GENERAL THE PROTECTION OF JUSTICE AND TO REPORT TO THE LEGISLATURE AT THE 2002 SESSION SO THAT THE COMMISSION RECOMMENDATIONS MAY BE CONSIDERED PRIOR TO THE 2002 JUDICIAL ELECTION. THE RESOLUTION WILL BE INTRODUCED IN BOTH HOUSES AND I RECOMMEND THAT THE LEGISLATURE CREATE SUCH A INTERIM STUDY COMMISSION TO REVIEW OUR JUDICIAL BRANCH OF GOVERNMENT.

       I ALSO CALL ON THE LEGISLATURE THIS YEAR TO MOVE THE QUALIFYING DEADLINE FOR CANDIDATES FOR JUDICIAL OFFICE FROM MAY TO AUGUST --- BELIEVING THAT THIS WILL SHORTEN JUDICIAL CAMPAIGNS AND THE CHANGE OF QUALIFYING DEADLINE WILL AUTOMATICALLY MOVE THE TIME ALLOWED TO RAISE CAMPAIGN FUNDS FOR JUDICIAL OFFICES BACK FROM MARCH TO JUNE. GENERAL MOORE MADE THIS SUGGESTION AND I AGREE THAT IT WILL HAVE A SALUTARY AFFECT ON JUDICIAL ELECTIONS. THE LEGISLATION NECESSARY TO CHANGE THE QUALIFYING DEADLINE HAS BEEN INTRODUCED AND I COMMEND TO THE LEGISLATURE FOR ITS APPROVAL.

       THE JUDICIAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE CREATED SIX YEARS AGO BY THE LEGISLATURE HAS IN THE PAST RECOMMENDED 8 YEAR TERMS FOR THE CIRCUIT, CHANCERY AND COUNTY JUDGES. WE HAVE CAUSED THIS LEGISLATION TO BE INTRODUCED AND I RECOMMEND THAT THE LEGISLATURE ADOPT THE STATUTORY CHANGES AND THE NECESSARY RESOLUTION SO THAT WE MAY AMEND THE CONSTITUTION TO GIVE 8 YEAR TERMS TO ALL JUDGES SO THAT WE MAY REDUCE THE NUMBER OF ELECTIONS FOR JUDGES AND THE AMOUNT OF CAMPAIGN FUNDS NEEDED FOR SUCH ELECTIONS AND SO THAT WE ENLARGE THE COMMITMENT TO JUDICIAL SERVICE MADE BY JUDICIAL CANDIDATES. THE SUPREME COURT AND THE COURT OF APPEALS HAVE EIGHT YEAR TERMS. THE MS SUPREME COURT TODAY HAS 5 MEMBERS FIRST ELECTED AND 4 MEMBERS FIRST APPOINTED - 8 YEAR TERMS FOR THE TRIAL COURTS WILL CAUSE, BY THE NATURE OF ITS LENGTH, MORE APPOINTED JUDGES BRINGING DIVERSITY TO THE TRIAL BENCH AND REDUCING POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS.

       THE TRIAL JUDGES CONFERENCE, THE PROSECUTORS CONFERENCE, PLAINTIFFS AND DEFENSE BAR MEMBERS THAT I HAVE MET WITH HAVE ALL ENDORSED INCREASED SALARIES FOR TRIAL JUDGES AND DISTRICT ATTORNEYS. I REQUEST THAT THE 2001 LEGISLATURE ATTEND TO THIS MATTER SO THAT THE BEST OF OUR QUALIFIED MEN AND WOMEN WILL BE ATTRACTED TO THESE IMPORTANT OFFICES EVEN IN NEXT YEARS ELECTIONS.

       THESE RECOMMENDATIONS WILL HAVE A BENEFICIAL AND A PROTECTIVE EFFECT FOR THE JUDICIARY. WE SIMPLY MUST SAFEGUARD IN ALL WAYS JUSTICE FOR ALL.

       FURTHER, I ASK THE LEGISLATURE TO REDUCE THE AMOUNT OF CONTRIBUTIONS THAT MAY BE MADE TO JUDICIAL CANDIDATES --- AND THAT LEGISLATION HAS BEEN INTRODUCED. I REQUEST ITS ADOPTION -- IN THIS REGARD, THE SECRETARY OF STATE AND ATTORNEY GENERAL HAVE ASSURED ME THAT THEY WILL CONTINUE THEIR EFFORTS IN THE U.S. COURT OF APPEALS TO MAKE SURE THAT OUR CAMPAIGN REPORTING LAWS ARE APPLICABLE NOT ONLY TO MISSISSIPPI CITIZENS BUT TO ALL PARTIES WHO CONTRIBUTE POLITICAL MONEY TO JUDICIAL CANDIDATES AND I COMMEND THEM FOR THIS EFFORT.

       IF WE ARE TO PROTECT THE FAIRNESS OF THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM AND ASSURE TO OUR CITIZENS THAT THERE IS A REVIEW OF THE SYSTEM AND OF JUDGES WE MUST FUND THE JUDICIAL PERFORMANCE COMMISSION. THE JUDICIAL PERFORMANCE COMMISSION IS CREATED BY THE CONSTITUTION AND WAS CREATED FOR THE SOLE PURPOSE OF SAFEGUARDING TO THE PUBLIC A PROPER ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE. WE TODAY HAVE AN EXCELLENT COMMISSION MADE UP OF DEDICATED MEN AND WOMEN WITH A SMALL BUT GOOD STAFF. THE COMMISSION MUST HAVE BETTER FUNDING SO THAT THEY CAN INVESTIGATE COMPLAINTS, INTERVIEW WITNESSES, TAKE DEPOSITION, AND THE LIKE. THEY MUST BE ABLE TO EMPLOY ADDITIONAL STAFF MEMBERS WITH THE TOOLS TO DO THEIR JOB. GOV. MUSGROVE RECENTLY EXCLUDED JUDICIAL PERFORMANCE $350,000 APPROPRIATIONS FROM THE 5% CUT AND GOV. WE THANK YOU FOR THIS. THE COMMISSION MUST HAVE A MINIMUM OF $508,000 IN ORDER TO CARRY OUT ITS CONSTITUTIONAL DUTY. THE JUDICIAL PERFORMANCE COMMISSION IS COMPOSED OF 7 MEMBERS AND 7 ALTERNATES AND WHILE WE HAVE A VERY GOOD COMMISSION TODAY, HOWEVER, WE SHOULD STATUTORILY CHANGE THE MANNER IN WHICH THE COMMISSION IS SELECTED. FOR EXAMPLE, THE CIRCUIT AND CHANCERY AND COUNTY COURT JUDGE'S CONFERENCES ELECT A MEMBER AND ALTERNATE TO THE COMMISSION. I ASK THE LEGISLATURE TO ALLOW THE GOVERNOR, THE LT. GOVERNOR AND THE SPEAKER TO MAKE THOSE APPOINTMENTS FROM THE JUDGES CONFEENCE. IT IS HARD FOR A JUDGE TO INVESTIGATE A JUDGE AND IT IS MORE ESPECIALLY SO WHEN THE INVESTIGATING JUDGE IS NOMINATED BY HIS OR HER COLLEAGUES. THE CHIEF JUSTICE HAS 2 APPOINTMENTS TO THE JUDICIAL PERFORMANCE COMMISSION. ONE OF THE APPOINTMENTS MUST COME FROM A LIST SUBMITTED BY THE MISSISSIPPI TRIAL LAWYERS ASSOCIATION AND ONE APPOINTMENT FROM A LIST SUBMITTED BY THE PROSECUTORS CONFERENCE. I ASK THE LEGISLATURE TO AMEND THE STATUTE SO THAT THE CHIEF JUSTICE'S APPOINTMENTS MAY COME FROM A BROADER POOL OF OUR CITIZENS, AND SO THAT NO SPECIAL INTEREST ORGANIZATION NOMINATE JUDICIAL PERFORMANCE COMMISSION MEMBERS. THIS LEGISLATION WILL BRING MORE LIGHT TO THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM AND MAKE POSSIBLE BETTER JUDICIAL REVIEW.

       THE JUDICIARY CANNOT SIMPLY CALL ON OTHERS TO HELP US IN OUR TIME OF CONCERN. WE MUST DO OUR PART AND WE WILL.

       I WILL ASK THE SUPREME COURT TO UPDATE OUR CODE OF JUDICIAL CONDUCT. OUR PRESENT CODE OF JUDICIAL CONDUCT IS TAKEN FROM THE 1972 AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION MODEL CODE. IN 1990 THE AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION ADOPTED A NEW MODEL CODE. I WILL ASK THAT WE MODIFY OUR JUDICIAL CODE TO MAKE IT BETTER FIT THE TIMES. FURTHER, I WILL ASK THE SUPREME COURT STRENGTHEN OUR CODE OF CONDUCT PROVISIONS DEALING WITH ELECTIONS THIS YEAR SO THAT THESE PROVISIONS MAY BE USED TO ASSIST IN MORE DIGNIFIED AND PROPER ADVERTISING IN JUDICIAL ELECTIONS OF NEXT YEAR.

       I WILL REQUEST THAT THERE BE CREATED THROUGH THE CODE OF JUDICIAL CONDUCT A JUDICIAL ELECTION COMMITTEE TO ADOPT GUIDELINES FOR JUDICIAL CANDIDATES THAT MAY MAKE CAMPAIGNS MORE RESPECTFUL OF JUDICIAL FAIRNESS AND MORE RESPONSIVE TO THE PUBLICS RIGHT TO ACCEPT INFORMATION ABOUT ITS COURT SYSTEM.

       THE SUPREME COURT HAS BY ORDER EXTENDED THE LIFE OF THE GENDER FAIRNESS COMMISSION FOR ANOTHER 2 YEARS AND I HAVE ASKED FORMER LT. GOV. EVELYN GANDY TO CONTINUE HER SERVICES AS CHAIR PERSON AND SHE HAS AGREED TO CONTINUE TO SERVE ---- AND I REQUEST THAT THE LEGISLATURE CONTINUE ITS FUNDING FOR THIS YEAR AND THE YEAR TO COME. THE COMMISSION PRELIMINARY HAS FOUND A MINIMUM OF PROBLEMS AS REGARDS GENDER FAIRNESS, BUT THE COMMISSION NEEDS TO FINISH ITS STUDY AND MAKE ITS REPORT.

       MY COLLEAGUES HAVE ALREADY BEEN VERY SUPPORTIVE. THEY HAVE VOTED TO AFFIRM THE CONCEPT OF APPELLATE COURT ARGUMENTS ON THE INTERNET FOR LAWYERS AND THE PUBLIC ALIKE. WE WILL ACCOMPLISH INTERNET BROADCAST APPROXIMATELY 3 MONTHS. THE COURT HAS ALSO VOTED TO SUPPORT ELECTRONIC FILINGS WITH THE COURT SO THAT A LAWYER MAY FILE A MOTION OR A BRIEF ELECTRONICALLY --- WITHOUT MAILING OR DELIVERING A WRITTEN DOCUMENT --- WE WILL ACCOMPLISH THIS IN ABOUT 6 MONTHS.

       THE CREATION OF THE COURT OF APPEALS COURT 6 YEARS AGO HAS ALLOWED THE APPELLATE COURTS TO CATCH UP WITH THE BACKLOG OF CASES THAT WE PREVIOUSLY HAD.

      THE LEGISLATURE BY STATUTE AND THE COURT BY RULE HAS ADOPTED A REQUIREMENT THAT A CASE BE DECIDED WITHIN 270 DAYS OF BRIEFS BEING FILED. THE COURT OF APPEALS HAS ALWAYS LIVED WITHIN THE 270 DAY RULE AND I COMMEND THEM FOR THEIR EXCELLENT WORK. WE WILL FOLLOW THEIR EXAMPLE --- WE TOO WILL BE WITHIN THE 270 DAY RULE SO THAT ALL CASES WILL BE DECIDED WITHIN 270 DAYS OF BRIEFING.

       FINALLY, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN --- THE SUPREME COURT WILL TRY IN EVERY WAY TO LIVE UP TO OUR CONSTITUTIONAL RESPONSIBILITY AND TO YOUR EXPECTATIONS.

       THE COURT IS A GOOD COURT --- IT IS NOT PRO PLAINTIFF NOR PRO DEFENDANT. THERE IS NOT ONE JUDGE ON THIS COURT OR ANY OTHER COURT IN MISSISSIPPI WHO FAVORS CRIMINAL DEFENDANTS OVER VICTIMS OF CRIME. THEIR IS NOT ONE JUDGE WHO IS ANTI-BUSINESS.

       WE ARE SWORN TO APPLY THE LAW FAIRLY TO ALL WHO COME BEFORE US.

      WE DO HAVE A MANDATE TO INTERPRET AND TO APPLY THE LAW OF THIS LAND WE CALL MISSISSIPPI. THE COURTS ARE NOT FOR LAWYERS NOR JUST LITIGANTS. THE LAW IS HERE TO IMPROVE AND PROTECT OUR SOCIETY. WE DO NOT SELECT THE SUBJECTS NOR THE ARGUMENTS OR THE LAWYERS THAT COME BEFORE US. WE DO HOWEVER PROMISE TO DO JUSTICE TO ALL WITH FAVOR TO NONE AND WITH RESPECT TO LAW AND THOSE BEFORE US.

       WE PLEDGE TO DO OUR BEST FOR YOU ----