Debate over Hinds Co. supervisor’s residency reaches Supreme Court

Challenger says state's highest court could reverse circuit court decision because of procedural errors

Supreme Court hears arguments on Hinds Co. election challenge

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The Mississippi Supreme Court will now decide whether an election challenge by a former Hinds County supervisor, filed against the man who defeated him, will move forward.

Part of what the justices will likely review involves the merits of the case, which claims current District 2 Supervisor David Archie does not live in that district, and had not established residency at the time he qualified to run for office.

Former supervisor Darrel McQuirter filed the election challenge after Archie defeated him last year, claiming Archie lives on Clubview Drive, which is located in District 1.

Archie’s qualifying documents state he lives on Shady Oaks Street, which falls in District 2.

A 3 On Your Side investigation last year revealed homestead exemption records that show Archie’s primary domicile -- per Hinds County law -- as Clubview Drive since 2007.

In addition, McQuirter’s attorney, Sam Begley, provided evidence to the court showing no electricity had been running to the Shady Oaks residence for more than four years and the location had no record of water usage for most of that time either.

Begley mentioned the previous trial during his opening arguments Tuesday.

“[Archie] never said ‘I reside, I physically live at Shady Oaks.’ That’s not in the record. He took the stand and was loquacious about avoiding that issue, because the truth is, nobody could live there,” Begley said.

A specially-appointed Hinds County Circuit Court judge, Lamar Pickard, then denied the challenge, saying Archie’s intent was to establish residency there.

Dorsey Carson, Archie’s attorney, didn’t argue with Begley’s evidence during his opening remarks.

Instead, he said current residency doesn’t matter as long as it’s been established Archie had lived there previously -- and cited evidence of such.

Carson said Hinds County voting records show Archie voted 33 times with the Shady Oaks address and also goes to church in that area of the city.

“We don’t have evidence that he was actually physically living there, but we don’t believe that’s the legal standard. I can be renovating my house. I don’t have gas at my house today. There’s a case where a judge says residency isn’t defined by the kilowatt hour,” Carson said. “Did he meet the qualifications? And if he lived there in 2009 and 2010, he did.”

Carson claims if the first part of the statute is satisfied, with an established prior history of residency, the second part which points to current residency isn’t required.

Begley disagreed with the assertion.

Tuesday morning’s oral arguments looked like they might not happen initially, however, because of concerns by at least one justice on whether they even had the jurisdiction to hear the case.

Associate Justice Josiah D. Coleman said it was his interpretation that state law did not allow the appellate court to step in on election challenges already ruled upon by a lower court judge.

Begley said in his initial appeal that Judge Pickard failed to dictate findings of fact and information from the county’s election commissioners that would have indicated their concurrence or dissent into the record as required by state law.

Because these actions could be seen as procedural errors, Begley argued it could pave the way for the Supreme Court to reverse the lower court’s ruling and decide whether a new trial would take place.

Archie declined to comment Tuesday.

McQuirter did not attend the proceeding.

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