Hosemann pitches plan for new Business Court

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Secretary of State candidate Delbert Hosemann took advantage ofa campaign stop in Brookhaven Monday to announce his proposal for anew court system to expedite business disputes and increase theflow of criminal cases through circuit courts.

“Brookhaven was good to me in years past, so I wanted to makethis announcement here,” he said, referring to votes cast during anunsuccessful 1998 bid for the U.S. Congressional FourthDistrict.

Hosemann said he believes his proposal for a state BusinessCourt could have a significant impact on the state’s circuit courtsystem.

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“Gradually, over the years, the circuit court system has becomebogged down with criminal cases,” he said. “In some cases, it takesthree to four years to actually have a trial.”

According to Hosemann, there were approximately 20,400 criminalcases in circuit courts across the state in 2006 and 17,800 civilcases. That means more than 50 percent of circuit court cases werecriminal, and in some districts the disparity is even greater, hesaid.

In addition, approximately 12,000 of the 17,800 civil cases, orabout 55 percent, filed in circuit court werebusiness/commercial.

“In civil matters, this means the pace of business inMississippi stops for at least three years while you wait to have acourt reach a decision on any business dispute,” he said.

A Business Court, he said, could accept cases involvingcorporations, partnerships, limited liability companies, nonprofitorganizations and others with initial jurisdiction inbusiness-related matters.

“Businesses can no longer operate with a three- or four-yearwait,” Hosemann said. “We only have to look as far as the computeron our desk to see how quickly businesses must respond, decisionsmust be made and solutions to issues must be resolved. To dootherwise handicaps our entire business system, drives smallbusinesses out of Mississippi, costs us valuable jobs and hampersthose we try to protect in our state. We want to have disputesbetween businesses settled within 12 months in this state.”

A Business Court would also free the circuit court to providefaster service to its criminal cases.

“Similarly, the criminal cases are stalled and they become muchharder to prosecute because of missing witnesses, evidence issues,etc.,” he said.

Additionally, he said, speedier trials would have a positiveimpact on crime because there would be less time between a suspectbeing released on bond and a trial.

“Oftentimes, an individual charged with a crime will be set freeon bail only to repeat crimes while waiting for trial,” Hosemannsaid. “The only way to address that is to have an expeditedcriminal system.”

The candidate said the system could be established at noadditional extra cost to taxpayers by charging higher filing feesfor cases seen before the court.

“What business wouldn’t pay a little more to have its caseresolved more quickly? Court delays cost companies a lot of moneyin attorney fees and other expenses while they wait for the trialdate,” Hosemann said.

However, Hosemann said his proposal was far from being ready tobe implemented as law.

“It’s bare bones right now,” he said. “There’s a lot of work tobe done to get it to the Legislature in a way that can be passed,but I’m confident we can.”

Among issues that would be determined, he said, was whether thecourt would operate statewide or in districts and judge selection.In Delaware and Nevada, the two states where Business Courts havebeen established, one elects its judges while the otherappoints.

Hosemann said he believes he could have a bill prepared forlegislative review by the 2009 session if elected.