Justice Carlson addresses 1st Judicial District Bar Association

June 4, 2002

Justice George C. Carlson Jr. told north Mississippi lawyers last week that work at the Supreme Court involves a high volume of cases, constant deadlines and a requirement for consensus.

Justice Carlson spoke to a gathering of the First Judicial District Bar Association on Wednesday evening, May 29, at the Country Inn in Baldwyn.

Justice Carlson, appointed to the court seven months ago, said, "When I first arrived at the court, I was reminded that as a trial judge, I was used to running the show, but now at the Supreme Court, if I said anything, I had to have four other votes to back me up. However, without exception, as each justice came around to visit with me, the one common thread that ran through the advice given to me was that on each case, I should vote my conscience. Certainly apply the law to the facts, but vote my conscience."

Justice Carlson said, "I only thought I was aware of the number of complex issues and cases being dealt with by the Supreme Court."

Justice Carlson said he has been amazed at the number of cases and the deadlines faced by the justices of the Supreme Court. Justice Carlson noted that the Court of Appeals also handles a high volume of cases.

"I used to say as a trial judge that the trial judges had only a few seconds to make critical decisions in the courtroom, while the appellate judges could take all the time they wanted in second-guessing the trial judges," Justice Carlson said.

"I have found that while appellate judges have more time than trial judges to make decisions, it is not as much time as I thought. There are certain internal deadlines constantly coming up on every case. These deadlines are geared toward getting the cases handed down within 270 days after the briefing schedule is complete," he said.

Justice Carlson also spoke fondly of the late Judge Noah S. "Soggy" Sweat, a former 1st District circuit judge who taught at the University of Mississippi School of Law and founded the Mississippi Judicial College.

"He certainly was a mentor of mine in law school. Judge Sweat taught us the practical side of the practice of law," Justice Carlson said.