Four special judges appointed to assist Hinds Circuit Court

August 4, 2020

Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Mike Randolph on Aug. 4 appointed four temporary special judges to assist the Hinds Circuit Court in handling the backlog of cases that have resulted from delays caused by COVID-19.

Judge Faye Peterson

Temporary special judge appointments include retired Circuit Judge Isadore W. Patrick Jr. of Vicksburg, retired Circuit Judge Betty W. Sanders of Greenwood, retired Supreme Court Justice David A. Chandler of Louisville and retired Supreme Court Justice Jess H. Dickinson of Madison. Justice Dickinson also was appointed last week to assist the Hinds County Court.

Chief Justice Randolph said in the special judge appointment orders, “Before the Chief Justice and the four ( 4) circuit court judges of the Seventh Circuit Court District of Mississippi is the judges’ need for the appointment of four ( 4) special judges to assist in timely handling the unforeseen consequences and workload proximately caused and/or contributed to by COVID 19. The Seventh Circuit District is the most populous single Circuit Court District. It has the largest number of positive coronavirus test results and the largest number of deaths in the State of Mississippi at this time.”

The special judge appointments are temporary; special judges will serve through Dec. 30. Case assignments will be made by Hinds Senior Circuit Judge Tommie Green after consultation with the district’s other three circuit judges.

With the temporary special judge appointments made on Aug. 4, a total of eight retired judges have been appointed in recent days to assist the courts of Hinds County. Justice Dickinson was previously appointed to assist Hinds County Court at the request of Judge Johnnie McDaniels. Resident Jurist and former Adams County Court Judge 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. 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.

Special judges also have been appointed temporarily to assist the 8th Circuit Court in Leake, Neshoba, Newton and Scott counties; the 16th Chancery Court in Jackson, George and Green counties; the 21st Circuit Court in Holmes, Humphreys and Yazoo counties; and in the Warren County Court. More special judge appointments are expected, as other judges around the state have requested special judge appointments to assist with the backlog of cases which resulted from COVID-19.

Chief Justice Randolph said that 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.

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.

The special judge appointees are senior status judges, retired judges who have agreed to accept appointments by the Supreme Court. A total of 70 retired judges make up the state’s senior status judges. They include retirees from all levels of the state court system: Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Chancery Courts, Circuit Court and County Courts.

Judge Patrick retired in December 2018 after serving 29 ½ years as a Circuit Judge of the Ninth Judicial District of Warren, Sharkey and Issaquena counties. He served on the Mississippi Public Defender Task Force and the Bar Complaint Tribunal. Before he was elected to the bench in June 1989, he served for more than eight years as an assistant district attorney in the Ninth Judicial District. With a degree in mathematics, he worked for IBM before he earned a law degree.

Judge Sanders retired in December 2014 after 25 years of judicial service. She served for 20 years as a Circuit Judge of the 4th Circuit District of Leflore, Sunflower and Washington counties. She previously served for five years by appointment as a special magistrate hearing cases filed by prisoners at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman. She helped establish a Drug Court for the 4th Circuit in June 2002, a time when only two other drug courts were operating in the state. She served on the State Drug Court Advisory Committee and as president of the Mississippi Association of Drug Court Professionals. She was chair, vice-chair and secretary-treasurer of the Conference of Circuit Judges. She served on the Commission on Judicial Performance, the Mississippi Model Jury Instructions Commission, the Complaint Tribunal and Ethics Committee of the Mississippi Bar, as a member of the Board of Directors of the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project and as secretary of the Magnolia Bar Association.

Justice Chandler served for almost seven years on the Mississippi Supreme Court. He left the Supreme Court in December 2015 to lead the Department of Child Protection Services. He retired as Commissioner of Child Protection Services in September 2017. Chandler served for eight years on the Mississippi Court of Appeals before he was elected to the Supreme Court. He also served for two years as Municipal Judge of Weir. He earned a Ph.D. in education before earning a law degree. He spent the first 20 years of his career as an educator and school administrator. He was a teacher, counselor, school psychometrist and administrator with Choctaw County public schools for about 10 years. He then served as a research and curriculum specialist at Mississippi State University, where he directed curriculum development to provide a more skilled work force.

Justice Dickinson served on the Mississippi Supreme Court from January 2004 until September 2017. He was a founding member of the Mississippi Access to Justice Commission, and served as the Supreme Court's liaison to organizations providing legal services to the poor. He left the Supreme Court to become Commissioner of the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services. He retired from Child Protection Services this past January. Before he joined the Supreme Court, he served for a year by special appointment as a circuit judge for the 12th Circuit District of Forrest and Perry counties. He taught evidence and trial practice as an adjunct professor at Mississippi College School of Law for many years. Before his election to the bench, he practiced law for more than 20 years, mostly on the Gulf Coast.

Here are links to the special judge appointment orders:

Judge Isadore W. Patrick Jr.:;

Judge Betty Sanders:;

Judge David A. Chandler:;

Judge Jess H. Dickinson: