High court appoints judge to hear election case

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 31, 2003

WOODVILLE &045; In a ruling issued Thursday afternoon, the Mississippi Supreme Court appointed Hinds County Chancellor Denise Owens to hear a contested election case in Wilkinson County.

The case arises from a petition candidate Richard Hollins filed in Wilkinson County Circuit Court challenging the results of the Democratic primary election for District 2 Supervisor.

Incumbent Supervisor Kirk Smith was certified the winner of the Aug. 26 runoff by an 11-vote margin.

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Hollins claims that absentee and affidavit ballots were improperly rejected at the polls, among several other allegations.

In a separate order, the state Supreme Court also denied a motion by Hollins to stop the Wilkinson County Election Commission from placing Smith’s name on the Nov. 4 ballot. The high court also denied a writ of mandamus filed filed by Smith’s attorneys.

In its order, the high court expressed a reluctance to interfere in any election until after a winner was determined through appropriate judicial review.

But the rulings did not state when Owens would consider the case or whether Wilkinson County Circuit Clerk Mon Allen should proceed with printing the ballots for the general election.

Although the District 2 Supervisor race is the only race contested, absentee ballots for other districts are yet to be printed.

&uot;I guess you could say we have to wait for Judge Denise Owens to rule. I’m not sure,&uot; Allen said.

Calls to attorneys involved in the case were not returned on Thursday evening.

Smith has been certified by the Wilkinson County Democratic Executive as its party nominee in the general election. No independent or Republican candidates qualified for the general election.