Four special judges appointed to assist Hinds County Courts
JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Thursday, the Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Mike Randolph appointed four special judges to assist the Hinds County Circuit Court in reducing the number of pending cases caused by the pandemic.
The special Judges are Andrew K. Howorth of Oxford, Betty W. Sanders of Greenwood, Stephen B. Simpson of Gulfport and Frank G. Vollor of Vicksburg.
“Chief Justice Randolph’s appointments respond to the urgent need to reduce the criminal case backlog in Hinds County,” said Greg Snowden, Director of the Administrative Office of Courts. “The Courts remained open throughout the worst of the pandemic, but crime didn’t take a holiday. Trials were postponed and dockets became congested. The Legislature has provided coronavirus relief funds to assist the Courts, the prosecutors and public defenders, Capital Police, and various other agencies in order to ameliorate the damage caused or exacerbated by COVID,” Snowden said.
The elected Hinds County Circuit Judges maintain active dockets, and they will continue to bring cases to trial or other final dispositions.
The aforementioned special judges appointed by the Chief Justice will concentrate on felony criminal cases that are part of the burgeoning regular dockets.
“Accused people have a right to their day in court, whether they are incarcerated pending trial or out on bond,” Director Snowden said. “If defendants are found guilty, they need to be sent to prison, but if they are found not guilty, they need to be released. Justice is served only when a final determination is made, one way or the other.”
Snowden commended the many public officials involved in the effort.
“The sitting Hinds County Circuit Judges, the District Attorney’s office, and the Public Defender’s office all have come together with the AOC to agree on an action plan, and the Circuit Clerk, the Sheriff, and the Board of Supervisors will ensure courtroom facilities are available and secure. And, of course, the appointed special judges deserve thanks for agreeing to accept their appointments.”
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