Two Running in Supreme Court Race

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Two candidates vying for the central district Mississippi Supreme Court seat are touting their experience in the courtroom and state politics.

One of them is taking aim at the other because of campaign funds.

William Waller, Jr., is the current chief justice. His opponent state Rep. Earle Banks.

Through court initiatives like electronic filing, the drug court system and interpreter certification, Waller says his 15 years of experience on the bench, combined with his 20 years as a lawyer makes him the more qualified candidate.

"The public I think has a good option in allowing me to continue to serve as chief justice," said Waller.

Banks is also an attorney. He says claiming a seat on the Supreme Court is about more than just winning an election. Having helped push drug court legislation, he says Mississippians need a legislative perspective.

"I will be fair in hearing your case before this court," Banks said. "I will be fair. I will give it the proper attention. I will work and I will give it the proper decision."

With only a month before the election, Banks is criticizing Waller for accepting political action committee, or PAC money, for his campaign, which is legal.

"I want Mississippi to have the best justice that they can have, not the best justice that is being influenced," said Banks.

Banks admits he has accepted PAC money during his time as a representative, but says it has no place in a judicial race.

"I have a problem when it comes to PACs and justice. I'm about people and justice," he said. "I'm about individuals and justice."

Waller says it's the nature of campaigns which must be paid for but he isn't sure how much PAC money is being brought in.

"I've told my staff I've not restricted those contributions, but I have no personal knowledge," said Waller.

While campaigns can become political the position on the court is a non-partisan race.

Even so, both candidates have been endorsed by the state's political parities. Waller is supported by the Republican party, Banks by the Democrat Party.

Both say that's what happens when you're in the vote-getting business.

State Supreme Court terms are 8 years.

Rep. Earle Banks
Chief Justice Bill Waller, Jr.