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

Retired Judge Michael McPhail appointed to assist Forrest County Court

September 25, 2020

Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Mike Randolph on Sept. 24 appointed retired County Court and Youth Court Judge Michael McPhail of Hattiesburg to assist the Forrest County Court in handling the backlog of cases that have resulted from delays caused by COVID-19.

Rankin County New Courthouse

Forrest County Court Judge Carol Jones Russell requested appointment of a special judge on a temporary basis. Judge McPhail will assist the Court through Dec. 30.

Twelve other special judges were appointed in late July and early August to temporarily assist other courts around the state. Appointments include eight special judges to assist the Hinds Chancery, Circuit and County courts and special judges 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 the Warren County Court and Youth Court.

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 numerous court case 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 will be paid with CARES Act funds which will be available through Dec. 30, 2020.

Judge McPhail served as Forrest County Court and Youth Court Judge for 34 ¬Ĺ years. He took state retirement in June 2018, but continued to serve as judge through the end of the term in December 2018. Since then he has served as a senior status judge, accepting special judge appointments by the Supreme Court to hear cases in which other judges have recused themselves.

Here is the link to the special judge appointment order for Judge McPhail: