A member of Mississippi's highest court was in East Mississippi Monday. Associate Justice Randy Pierce met with court officials and residents in Quitman. Elected 5 years ago, he represents 27 counties in South Mississippi;Clarke County is one of those. With a heavy and steady caseload for the Mississippi Supreme Court, Justice Pierce says he's not able to do meet and greet visits as much as he would like.
"We have by statute and by our own rule that every case that comes before us we have 270 days for that case to be finalized. It's been a decade at least, if I'm not mistaken, since that time period has not been followed."
In terms of the timeliness of cases being handled, Justice Pierce says the Mississippi Supreme Court is helping to lead the way.
"So, thanks to the Court of Appeals and legislature enacting a 1994 law, unlike some states, in Mississippi we're on time."
Justice Pierce says other ways that Mississippi's high court is helping lead the way nationally involve making sure that Mississippians who are poor have access to justice, increasing the number of court offices that are electronically connected and working to improve the juvenile justice system.
"What we're doing is looking at the children that come into the juvenile court system, whether it's abuse, neglected, or a child that's committed a delinquent act defined as a status offense. We want to make sure that the court system at least is not a weak link as we prepare to move forward to ensure that the people of Mississippi are served appropriately."
As co-chair of the Mississippi Commission on Children's Justice, Pierce says this fall the group will issue a report that will make recommendations to the courts, governor and legislature on how to improve Mississippi's juvenile justice system.
The honorable Randy Pierce is one of nine justices on the Mississippi Supreme Court. He was elected in 2008. His current term ends in 2016.