There is only one contested race for the Mississippi Supreme Court in 2020, and it is in District 1, Place 1.
Supreme Court Justice Kenny Griffis announced his campaign kickoff this week, running for the seat he was appointed to on the state’s high court in February 2019, by former Governor Phil Bryant. Prior to joining the Supreme Court, he served on the Court of Appeals for 16 years and ended his tenure there as Chief Judge.
Judge Latrice Westbrooks, a former colleague on the Court of Appeals, is challenging Griffis for the District 1, Place 1 Supreme Court seat. Westbrooks’ current term ends in January 2025.
Other Supreme Court Justices running unopposed this cycle include Chief Justice Mike Randolph (District 2, Place 3), Justice Leslie King (District 1, Place 2), and Justice Josiah Coleman (District 3, Place 3).
When appointing Justice Griffis to the Supreme Court last year, Gov. Bryant stated, “Judge Griffis has served exceptionally on the Mississippi Court of Appeals, and his wealth of experience on the bench will prove very valuable as he moves into his new role. He has an outstanding legal mind and is highly respected among his peers. I have full faith Judge Griffis will be a real asset to the Mississippi Supreme Court.”
Judge Westbrooks has a history of her own with the Mississippi Supreme Court. She was ruled ineligible to run for the Court of Appeals in 2012 as she did not live within the district she sought to represent. Circuit Judge Winston Kidd ordered that Westbrooks be placed back on the ballot. The ruling was appealed to the Supreme Court and it was overturned, ruling Westbrooks ineligible to run based on her residency.
Westbrooks’ 2016 run for the Court of Appeals also faced controversy after defeating Ceola James. Former Judge James claimed in a lawsuit that Westbrooks improperly aligned with the Mississippi Democratic Party and with Congressman Bennie Thompson during the campaign resulting in a violation of state laws that require nonpartisan judicial elections. The case was ultimately dismissed by the Mississippi Supreme Court.
Supreme Court District 1 includes the following counties: Bolivar, Claiborne, Copiah, Hinds, Holmes, Humphreys, Issaquena, Jefferson, Kemper, Lauderdale, Leake, Madison, Neshoba, Newton, Noxubee, Rankin, Scott, Sharkey, Sunflower, Warren, Washington, and Yazoo.