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Justice touts court’s progress, atmosphere in bid to retain seat

Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Mike Randolph believesconservative jurists are needed to help ensure that futuregenerations have the same economic opportunities as theirparents.

“That’s the reason I accepted the appointment and the reason I’mrunning for office,” said Randolph, a Hattiesburg attorney who wasappointed to the state’s high court by Gov. Haley Barbour earlierthis year.

In the November general election, Randolph is seeking a fulleight-year term after replacing retired Justice Edwin Pittman. Hefaces state Court of Appeals Judge Joe Lee and Pascagoula MunicipalCourt Judge David M. Ishee in the nonpartisan contest in 27southern Mississippi counties.

Speaking Friday with The DAILY LEADER’s editorial board during acampaign stop in Brookhaven, Randolph touted a better workingrelationship among justices and efforts to reduce case backlog.

Unlike in past years, Randolph said there is no sense ofjustices pursuing different agendas. While they may not alwaysagree, he said they all are working toward seeing that the correctdecision is made.

“I feel very comfortable about that,” Randolph said.

Crediting Chief Justice Jim Smith’s leadership, Randolph saidthere has been a 400 percent increase in the number cases resolvedby the court. Whereas in the past a case may take up to three yearsto reach a decision, he said cases are now being disposed of within270 days.

“In less than nine months, you’ll have a decision from thiscourt,” Randolph said.

Randolph said his courtroom experience is an asset to the highcourt bench. For more than 25 years, he said he handled medicaldefense cases, but has maintained a balance between cases forplaintiffs and the defense.

His practical experience running a law firm is another asset,Randolph said.

“I’ve been through all the things the typical businessman hasbeen through, and I understand those problems,” Randolph said.

During Friday’s visit, Randolph touched on a variety of issuesranging from tort reform to campaign financing in judicial races.Regarding tort reform, he expected new rules addressing venue, massfiling and joinder to be effective in combating the state’snegative image in the area of civil justice.

“That’s going to eliminate a lot of the problems there,”Randolph said.

On the issue of campaign contributions and the perception thatmoney could buy influence with a justice, Randolph indicated it isa matter of honesty and personal integrity. He said he has notlooked at his campaign contributions and does not intend to.

“The issue about money is not going to control an honest judge,”Randolph said.

Whether at his law firm or on the high court bench, Randolphsaid he has always felt a sense of loyalty to those who pay thebill. He said the state is now paying for him to apply “fair andequal justice” to all who come before him.

“That’s what people will get,” Randolph said.