Four special judges appointed to Hinds Chancery and County courts
July 24, 2020
Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Mike Randolph on Friday appointed four special judges at the request of the Hinds Chancery Court and Hinds County Court judges to assist in handling the backlog of cases that have resulted from delays caused by COVID-19.
More special judges are expected to be appointed to temporarily assist judges in districts across the state. COVID-19 has presented a multitude of challenges to the prompt and efficient administration of justice. The disruption caused by COVID-19 required an untold number of continuances since it was declared a national emergency on March 13. It is estimated that as many as 30,000 cases may have been affected.
Retired Hinds County Chancery Judges Patricia D. Wise of Jackson and William H. Singletary of Clinton were appointed to assist the four chancellors of the Hinds Chancery Court at the request of Senior Chancellor Denise Owens. Resident Jurist John N. Hudson of Natchez was appointed to assist recently appointed Hinds County Court Judge Carlyn M. Hicks in Youth Court, at her request. Former Hinds County Court Judge James D. Bell of Jackson was appointed to assist Hinds County Court Judge LaRita Cooper-Stokes, at her request.
The Mississippi Legislature appropriated $2.5 million of CARES Act money to assist the courts. Special judges to be appointed around the state will be paid with CARES Act funds which will be available through Dec. 30, 2020.
Chief Justice Randolph entered Emergency Administrative Order 13 on July 23 to address the needs and the plan to appoint special judges to address the backlog. The order says, “Despite the dangers and inconveniences presented by COVID-19, our courts remain open and continue to administer justice. At every jurisdictional level, our judges have admirably served the citizens throughout this crisis. Despite the COVID-19 crisis and subsequent disruptions caused, judges continue to conduct proceedings, including trials. Despite their best efforts, case management and docket control have suffered due to COVID-19.”
Chancellor Wise and Chancellor Singletary retired from the Hinds Chancery Court in December 2018. Chancellor Wise served on the Chancery bench for 29 ½ years, and Chancellor Singletary, for 24 years. Judge Bell served on the Hinds County Court for seven years, 1983 - 1989, including sitting as a special circuit judge. He left the bench to return to private law practice, and has served as a senior status judge by appointment for many years. Judge Hudson retired from the Adams County Court and Youth Court bench in December 2014 after 31 years of service. The Supreme Court appointed him as Jurist in Residence on April 1, 2015, to assist Youth Courts across the state.
Here are links to the special judge appointment orders: