COA has little role in tort reform
Sept. 1, 2002
Local attorneys had a chance Friday during a meeting of the Lauderdale County Bar Association to speak with the two men running for this area's seat on the Mississippi Court of Appeals.
Kenny Griffis is a native of Meridian. His law practice is in Ridgeland and he made a campaign stop here earlier in the year.
I had never met the incumbent, Justice Jim Brantley of Madison. Brantley is a former president of the Mississippi Trial Lawyers Association. He fielded some questions about tort reform, but said the Court of Appeals is unlikely to have much impact on the issue.
The COA was created during a time when the Mississippi Supreme Court was hopelessly back-logged. The idea was to relieve some of the stress by passing lesser cases to the COA which decides only if trial court judges applied state law correctly.
It is not a precedent-setting court.
Brantley says he expects whatever tort reform legislation is eventually passed to be attacked constitutionally which means the argument will not be heard by the Court of Appeals.
COA statistics: Brantley said the Court of Appeals does get some small malpractice and personal injury cases. He said the 10-member panel has sided with doctors in seven of nine recent malpractice appeals. In personal injury appeals, he said he has sided with the defendant 72 percent of the time.
New graduates: Meridian's youngest prospective members of the Mississippi Bar Association also attended Friday's luncheon John Hughes and Justin Cluck. Recent graduates of Ole Miss law school, both have taken the bar exam and have joined the staff of the Hamilton Law Firm. Senior partner Joe Clay Hamilton said they should hear whether they passed within 10 days, but he's not worried about it.
By the way, Hamilton's staff and partners have moved into their new offices on 26th Avenue between Ninth and 10th streets.
Go' before take-off: Eric Michael Thomas, 20, and Jonathan Richard Davis, 18, arrived in Meridian by private plane on Saturday. They are charged with capital murder in the death of Stanley Lyles.
Vance Moore, a member of the Meridian Fire Department, piloted the plane. Moore is a former deputy and a former member of the Meridian Police Department's SWAT team.
Deputies escorting the defendants strapped them to their seats for the duration of the three- to four-hour flight. Lauderdale County Sheriff Billy Sollie said they were told to use the restroom before because there would be no getting up while the plane was in the air.
Lost Gap prison: There has been some criticism of the sheriff's department for not charging a prisoner at East Mississippi Correctional Facility in connection with the death of his cellmate. Sheriff's investigators say the case will be presented directly to a Lauderdale County grand jury. This is not unusual when charges are contemplated against people who are already incarcerated. It's not like they're going anywhere.
Indictment list: Lauderdale County Circuit Court officials are expected to release a list of indictments issued by a July grand jury sometime this week. The Meridian Star will publish the list, grouped by kind: violent crimes, crimes against property, drug-related crimes, DUIs and miscellaneous.