Chancery Judge Edward C. Prisock has presided over Tupelo’s annexation trial and will render a decision later this year. Prisock was specially appointed by the state Supreme Court to hear the case because all local chancellors recused themselves. Prisock, who is from Louisville, Miss., answered these questions last week from the Daily Journal’s Emily Le Coz.
Q:The annexation trial gave you the opportunity to spend some time in Tupelo. What did you think of the city and of Lee County?
A:This area seems to take a great deal of interest in civic activities and civic responsibility. I have noted some small things which to me indicate civic pride. Generally, the citizens seem to have a personal commitment to keeping their homes and businesses clean and attractive. In the retail shopping areas, there seems to be a real effort to keep things clean and appealing. This is not the case of many metropolitan areas of similar size. I was impressed at the degree of professionalism in both city and county government. The chancery clerk and his staff were always accessible and eager to assist me, and the sheriff’s office provided needed support. Being away from home for such a length of time caused me to appreciate their assistance. There seems to be an underlying feeling that the city and county work well together and are accustomed to that spirit of cooperation.
Q:I understand this is the longest annexation trial over which you have presided. As a judge, how do you process all that information and boil it all down to one decision?
A:Not only was it the longest annexation trial I have heard, it was the longest trial I have presided over in my 35 years on the bench. This case involved about 30 days of actual trial including pretrial motions. Obviously, over a period of several months, I cannot remember sufficient facts introduced at trial to prepare the kind of detailed opinion which is required in this case. Therefore, I continuously took notes at trial and made notes on many of the exhibits for future reference. In addition, I made tours of all of the areas considered for annexation. Before I write the opinion in this case, I will have access to a complete transcript of the testimony. The preparation of the transcript will probably take six to eight weeks, so completion of the final court opinion and decision is several months away.
Q:Without revealing anything you shouldn’t, what was the most interesting – or most memorable – part of Tupelo’s annexation trial for you and why?
A:The most interesting and beneficial aspect of the trial was the degree of preparation that all of the attorneys showed during trial. They were well organized and did not waste time. Although the case was very complex, the thoughtful preparation of the parties and their attorneys was very evident. Unfortunately, very few citizens will understand the complexity and detail of the case. It was a pleasure for me to be the judge in this case.
NEMS Daily Journal