Challenger criticizes chief justice over campaign money - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Challenger criticizes chief justice over campaign money

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

One is the current chief justice of the state's high court, the other is a current state representative and both of them are on November's ballot to represent Central Mississippi as a supreme court justice.

For William "Bill" Waller, Jr., it's more than just keeping his seat on the court.

"If I'm re-elected, I'm continuing as chief justice and not a justice," said Waller.

Through court initiatives like electronic filing, the drug court system and interpreter certification, Waller says his 15 years of experience on the bench; combined with his 20 years as a lawyer makes him the more qualified candidate.

"The public, I think, has a good option in allowing me to continue to serve as chief justice," said Waller.

For representative Earle Banks, also an attorney, claiming a seat on the State Supreme Court is about more than just winning an election. Having helped push drug court legislation, he says Mississippians need a legislative perspective.

"I will be fair in hearing your case before this court. I will be fair, I will give it the proper attention. I will work and I will give it the proper decision," said Banks.

With only a month before the election, Banks is criticizing Waller for accepting Political Action Committee, or PAC money for his campaign, which is legal.

"I want Mississippi to have the best justice that they can have, not the best justice that is being influenced," said Banks.

Banks admits he has accepted PAC money during his time as a representative, but says it has no place in a judicial race.

"I have a problem when it comes to PACs and justice. I'm about people and justice. I'm about individuals and justice," said Banks.

Waller says it's the nature of campaigns which must be paid for but he isn't sure how much PAC money is being brought in.

"I've told my staff I've not restricted those contributions but I have no personal knowledge," said Waller.

While campaigns can become political, the position on the court is a non-partisan race. Even so, both candidates have been endorsed by the state's political parities. Waller by the GOP and Banks by the Democratic Party. Both say that's what happens when you're in the vote getting business.

In the Southern District, incumbent justice Mike Randolph also faces a challenger as well. Even if the incumbents win, there will be at lease one new face on the court from the Northern District to replace retiring justice George Carlson.

All terms are for eight years.

Copyright 2012 WLBT. All rights reserved.

 

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