While judicial races in Mississippi are non-partisan, it takes only a few clicks to see where candidates align on the left and right in terms of political support.
That truth is extremely evident in the race between Kenny Griffis and Latrice Westbrooks for the Mississippi Supreme Court.
Current Supreme Court Justice Griffis has been endorsed by the Mississippi Republican Party and many Republican elected officials for his bid to retain the District 1, Position 1 seat he was appointed to by former Governor Phil Bryant to fill the vacancy left by retiring Justice Bill Waller, Jr.
When appointing Justice Griffis to the Supreme Court last year, Bryant stated that the judge had served “exceptionally” on the Mississippi Court of Appeals, and that his wealth of experience on the bench will prove valuable in his new role.
“He has an outstanding legal mind and is highly respected among his peers,” Bryant said. “I have full faith Judge Griffis will be a real asset to the Mississippi Supreme Court.”
Recently filed finance reports show Griffis’ campaign committee has raised over $450,000 in this cycle. The Ms Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Center ($5,000), Rankin County Republican Executive Committee ($1,000), and Friends of Shad White ($250) highlight his latest filing.
Westbrooks has seen support from Democrat officials, left-leaning special interest groups, and trial lawyers. She even earned Congressman Bennie Thompson’s blessing by being included in his “sample ballot.”
According to her October 27th finance reports, Westbrooks’ campaign committee has raised over $165,000 in her Supreme Court bid.
Of note are contributions from former superstar trial lawyer turned felon for judicial bribery turned philanthropist Dickie Scruggs ($5,000), “One call, that’s all” Morris Bart ($5,000), and State Senator Barbara Blackmon ($600).
Judge Westbrooks currently serves on the Mississippi Court Appeals, winning that seat in 2016. Her run for the Court of Appeals 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.
Westbrooks 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 Mississippi Supreme Court and it was overturned, ruling Westbrooks ineligible to run based on her residency.
The General Election is Tuesday, November 3rd.
Griffis and Westbrooks are seeking to represent the counties of Bolivar, Claiborne, Copiah, Hinds, Holmes, Humphreys, Issaquena, Jefferson, Kemper, Lauderdale, Leake, Madison, Neshoba, Newton, Noxubee, Rankin, Scott, Sharkey, Sunflower, Warren, Washington, and Yazoo.