Mississippi chief justice is retiring

Chief Justice Bill Waller, Jr. (Source: WTOK-TV)

JACKSON, Miss. (WTOK) - Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller, Jr., announced Friday that he will retire Jan. 31, 2019.

Waller, 66, has served over 21 years on the high court and ten years as chief justice.

Waller was elected in November 1996 and took office in January 1998. He was re-elected in 2004 and 2012. He was a presiding justice for five years. He became Chief Justice in January 2009.

“It’s just time,” said Waller, who says his health is good.

Gov. Phil Bryant will appoint someone to fill the District 1 seat. The next election is set for November 2020, and the next eight-year term will begin in January 2022. The position is one of two seats on the court with a 14-month delay between the election and the beginning of a new term.

Mississippi Code Section 9-3-11 says that the justice who has served longest on the court shall be Chief Justice. Presiding Justice Michael K. Randolph of Hattiesburg, who joined the court in April 2004, is the second longest serving justice on the court after Chief Justice Waller.

Upon retirement from the court, Waller plans to become a senior status judge and remain active in Access to Justice and other administration of justice endeavors. He would like to teach as an adjunct professor at the University of Mississippi School of Law and Mississippi College School of Law. He previously taught pretrial practice at both law schools.

His early priorities as chief justice included expanding drug courts to all 22 circuit court districts, which was accomplished in 2012. His office says drug courts have proven records of restoring sobriety, saving money on incarceration and reducing recidivism.