Hed: Mills to make official bid for state Supreme Court
By Bobby Harrison
Daily Journal Jackson Bureau
JACKSON – Mike Mills of Fulton, who was appointed to the Mississippi Supreme Court in November by Gov. Kirk Fordice, announced Monday his plans to seek election to the post this November.
Actually, Mills’ announcement is no surprise. He said after his appointment that he planned to seek the post in the November general election. He will formally announce his plans Wednesday during a tour of the Northern District of the Supreme Court.
“Appointment to the Supreme Court is the greatest honor of my life,” Mills said Monday in a prepared statement. “I take seriously my responsibility to the people of Mississippi to interpret the law using common sense, not emotion or personal bias. My record shows that, and I hope the people of my district will allow me to continue serving them.”
Mills was appointed the the state’s highest court to replace Chief Justice Armis Hawkins of Houston, who stepped down before his eight-year term expired.
Even though Mills is now a sitting justice, he will not be elected to the post without opposition. Thomas Gardner III of Tupelo, the senior judge for the 1st Circuit Court District, announced in January his intentions to run for the post. The election will be Nov. 5 – the same day as the federal general election for president and for the state’s U.S. House and Senate seats.
Judicial posts are nonpartisan.
Mills was serving as a Republican member of the state House of Representatives when he was appointed to the Supreme Court. He had just been elected unopposed to his fourth term in the state House, where he served as chairman of the House Judiciary “A” Committee.
Mills said his experiences practicing law as an attorney and writing law as a legislator make him uniquely qualified to sit on the Supreme Court.
“I’ve practiced and written law in Mississippi,” he said. “It’s only reasonable that I use my experience to interpret the law as it was intended to be interpreted.”
While Mills’ political experience is in the state Legislature and on the Supreme Court, Gardner has served as a circuit judge since 1980. Before that, he served as a public defender and as an assistant district attorney.
Thus far Mills and Gardner are the only two candidates to announce plans to seek the post. As of Monday, Gardner had yet to file qualifying papers with the Mississippi Secretary of State’s office. The qualifying deadline is May 10.
Nine justices comprise the Supreme Court – three each from the central, southern and northern districts. They hear appeals of cases from circuit and chancery courts and from the newly created Court of Appeals.