Taking a case to the Mississippi Supreme Court is no small task.
In an address to the Columbus Exchange Club Thursday, Mississippi Supreme Court Justice David Chandler spelled out how difficult it is to have a case heard by the state”s highest court.
“In 2008, 744 opinions were published by the appellate court,” said Chandler. “Of those, 540 were written by the court of appeals and 204 were written by the supreme court.”
The Supreme Court has the power to assign as many cases as it chooses to the state Court of Appeals, Chandler pointed out several times. Once the Court of Appeals has ruled on those cases, the decision is usually final, unless a writ of certiorari is issued to send the case back to the Supreme Court.
Certiorari is rare, but it doesn”t mean the outcome will be any different after the Supreme Court hears a case. Last year, just 43 cases were granted certiorari; of those, fewer than half of the decisions were overturned.
The reason, according to Chandler, most cases to reach the appellate court get funneled to the Court of Appeals is due to its function. The Court of Appeals was created by the state Legislature to deal with statutory issues. The Supreme Court was created by the Constitution to address issues of constitutionality.
When it”s not deciding on matters of constitutionality, Chandler says the Supreme Court spends its time creating and tweaking the rules of court procedure for the state.
“The Supreme Court adopts and promulgates the rules of the court regarding evidence, procedure and conduct – all the rules that govern court activity,” said Chandler.
Chandler, a Mississippi State University graduate, also worked in a plug for the Supreme Court”s Web site, where recent court decisions, a docket calendar of pending cases and even webcasts of oral arguments can be accessed.
Jason Browne was previously a reporter for The Dispatch.
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