Mississippians living in the central part of the state will head to the polls next month to decide who should serve on the state Supreme Court, incumbent Jim Kitchens or his challenger Court of Appeals Judge Keny Griffis.
For nearly eight years, Justice Jim Kitchens has sat on the bench of the Mississippi Supreme Court. Now running for his second term, the 73-year-old from Crystal Springs believes his 50-year legal career sets him apart from his challenger.
“I have had more criminal law experience than anybody else on that court and maybe more than anybody else put together,” Kitchens says. “We have some very fine women and men on our court who are superb lawyers, excellent justices, who have never tried a criminal case of any kind on either side.”
His challenger, Judge Kenny Griffis, says Kitchens has not done enough to advocate for judicial reforms in the state’s criminal justice system.
“I think the future of our courts needs someone who will follow the law, who will make our courts accountable, transparent and bring innovation and reform to the judiciary system,” Griffis says.
Griffis is a 14-year veteran of the Mississippi Appeals Court.
“I believe my talents are in the role as an appellate judge, and I have chosen to dedicate most of my career to serving Mississippians as an appellate judge,” Griffis says. “I believe it’s important that we restore confidence in our courts. We do that by making decisions based on the word of law.”
Kitchens says his quiet demeanor has been an advantage to him on the court.
“You haven’t heard much out of me in the last eight years, and I guess that’s a good thing,” says Kitchens. “I haven’t been involved in any scandal. I haven’t stolen any money. I haven’t run off with anybody’s wife or anything. I’ve been kind of a low-key fellow, and I think that’s the way the Supreme Court is supposed to be.”
There are three other supreme court races this election cycle including one race in South Mississippi and two in the Northern part of the state.
Those candidates will appear on the November general election ballot. The deadline to register to vote in that election is this Saturday.