Gartin Building Courtroom with the Great Seal of the State of Mississippi

Uniform Criminal Rules Study Committee receives $10,000 IOLTA grant

July 23, 2008

A $10,000 grant from the Mississippi Bar Foundation will help a group of lawyers and judges to complete their work drafting recommendations for statewide uniform criminal rules.

The Uniform Criminal Rules Study Committee is the recipient of a grant funded by Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts (IOLTA).

The Uniform Criminal Rules Study Committee, which was appointed by Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice James W. Smith Jr. in 2004, is conducting an extensive examination of rules which cover every aspect of criminal proceedings from arrest through post-trial motions. The Study Committee is developing recommendations for a set of Rules of Criminal Procedure to govern practice and procedure in justice, municipal, county and circuit courts.

Judge Larry Roberts of the Court of Appeals, co-chair of the Study Committee, said, “The objective is to have a comprehensive, uniform set of criminal rules of procedure that will be applicable to all criminal prosecutions across the state.”

Twelve lawyers and judges who make up the Study Committee meet monthly. Recommendations from the Study Committee may be presented to the Supreme Court within a few months. The Supreme Court has rule-making authority over all state courts.

Judge Roberts said, “We have been working diligently since September 2004 on this project and we hope to be able to complete our work in the upcoming fiscal year. The committee members would like to express our sincere gratitude to the Mississippi Bar Foundation. The IOLTA grant will permit completion of this important project which will benefit the bar, the bench, as well as the citizens of this state.”

Circuit Judge R. I. Prichard III of Picayune, co-chair of the Study Committee, said, “We’ve had a very dedicated group of people with a lot of expertise that have really put a lot of time, thought and effort into the final product.”

The Study Committee’s only expense is for the legal research and reporting conducted by Matthew Steffey, professor of law at the Mississippi College School of Law. Judge Prichard called Professor Steffey’s research and drafting “invaluable.”

Other members of the Study Committee are Court of Appeals Judge L. Joseph Lee, Rankin County Court Judge Kent McDaniel, Forrest County Court Judge Michael W. McPhail, District Attorney Ronnie L. Harper of Natchez, District Attorney John R. Young of Corinth, Special Assistant Attorney General Edwin A. Snyder of Jackson, attorney Jim Lappan of the Office of Capital Defense Counsel in Jackson, attorney John M. Colette of Jackson, attorney Joe Sam Owen of Gulfport, and attorney Thomas E. Royals of Jackson.

IOLTA grants totaling $3 million have been awarded by the Mississippi Bar Foundation this year. Since its inception in1984, the IOLTA program has awarded more than $10 million in grants. IOLTA funds increased dramatically after the Mississippi Supreme Court made participation in the program mandatory for most private practice attorneys. The rule change became effective Jan. 1, 2007.

The IOLTA program was established by order of the Mississippi Supreme Court in 1984 to provide funding for legal aid to the poor, to provide law related public education programs, and to improve the administration of justice. The IOLTA grant program is administered by the Mississippi Bar Foundation. More information about the Mississippi Bar Foundation and the IOLTA program is available on the web site of the Mississippi Bar at