2002 Regular Session
By: Senator(s) Bryan
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 23-15-951, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO CLARIFY THE MANNER IN WHICH CIRCUIT JUDGES OR CHANCELLORS ARE SELECTED TO HEAR CONTESTS OF ELECTIONS; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 23-15-951, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
23-15-951. Except as otherwise provided by Section 23-15-955 or 23-15-961, a person desiring to contest the election of another person returned as elected to any office within any county, may, within twenty (20) days after the election, file a petition in the office of the clerk of the circuit court of the county, setting forth the grounds upon which the election is contested; * * * upon the filing of the petition the circuit clerk shall immediately, by registered letter or by telegraph or by telephone, or personally, notify the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, or in his absence, or disability, some other judge of the Supreme Court, who shall forthwith designate and notify a circuit judge or chancellor of a district other than that which embraces the district, subdistrict, county or any of the counties, involved in the contest or complaint, to proceed to the county in which the contest or complaint has been filed to hear and determine the contest or complaint. Before any election the Supreme Court shall compile a list of judges throughout the state to hear such disputes. It shall be the official duty of the circuit judge or chancellor to proceed to the discharge of the designated duty at the earliest possible date to be fixed by the judge or chancellor and of which the contestant and contestee shall have reasonable notice. The contestant and contestee are to be served in a reasonable manner as the judge or chancellor may direct, in response to which notice the contestee shall promptly file his answer, and also his cross-complaint if he has a cross-complaint. The court shall * * * cause an issue to be made up and tried by a jury, and the verdict of the jury shall find the person having the greatest number of legal votes at the election. If the jury shall find against the person returned elected, the clerk shall issue a certificate thereof; and the person in whose favor the jury shall find shall be commissioned by the Governor, and shall qualify and enter upon the duties of his office. Each party shall be allowed ten (10) peremptory challenges, and new trials shall be granted and costs awarded as in other cases. In case the election of district attorney or other state district election be contested, the petition may be filed in any county of the district or in any county of an adjoining district within twenty (20) days after the election, and like proceedings shall be had thereon as in the case of county officers, and the person found to be entitled to the office shall qualify as required by law and enter upon the duties of his office.
A person desiring to contest the election of another person returned as elected to any seat in the Mississippi Legislature shall comply with the provisions of Section 23-15-955. A person desiring to contest the qualifications of a candidate for nomination in a political party primary election shall comply with the provisions of Section 23-15-961.
SECTION 2. The Attorney General of the State of Mississippi shall submit this act, immediately upon approval by the Governor, or upon approval by the Legislature subsequent to a veto, to the Attorney General of the United States or to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in accordance with the provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended and extended.
SECTION 3. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after the date it is effectuated under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended and extended.