Pittman Speaks on the Record

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Chief Justice Ed Pittman, who is stepping down from the Mississippi Supreme Court at the end of March, visited Meridian for a taping of WTOK's public affairs program, On the Record.

We began the question and answer session with the issue of tort reform. Does the state legislature need to do something more?

"We've had significant tort reform, and truthfully, the legislature has not had the credit it should have had for the tort reform they did last year and the year before," said Pittman. "We've done a lot of things that are aimed at tort reform. Honestly, I think we need to live under the new tort reform laws and the new rules for a year or two and then see whether or not you need additional tort reform."

Recently, the United States Chamber of Commerce listed Mississippi as the most unfriendly state for business because of lawsuits.

"It's not true. It's not true and it's time for the United States Chamber of Commerce to recognize that Mississippi's position has greatly changed," Pittman said. "It has really changed because of the legislature, which adopted many of the proposals that the United States Chamber of Commerce people were for."

We asked him what it was like to hold a man's life in his hands when considering the appeal in a death penalty case.

"I know we've got a lot of people who say we've got to hurry up. We're too slow. Most of the slowness in death penalties is caused by the United States' federal court system because they review them all. We pay close attention. We're not in a hurry but we do carry out the death penalty in this state," said the chief justice.

The entire interview with Chief Justice Pittman Sunday at 5:30 p.m. on WTOK-TV.

Pittman's retirement from the court will take effect next Wednesday, after serving nearly 40 years in public office for the state of Mississippi.