Tuesday, September 7, 2021
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Some Mississippi judges are urging people to follow their example and get vaccinated to slow the spread of COVID-19—an effort aimed at keeping courts open.
Thirteen judges have made messages to air on TV and radio stations, according to a news release from the state court system. The effort was coordinated by the state Department of Health.
“We need the public’s help so we can safely do our jobs. We need the public’s help to protect our court system,” Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Mike Randolph said in the release.
Randolph last week extended a pandemic safety order that he originally set in early August. It allows judges to postpone jury trials through Oct. 8. It says courts may continue using teleconferences, video conferences and electronic filing. They may also continue using interactive audiovisual equipment to conduct remote hearings for pleas or sentencing in felony cases and for hearings on probation violations.
Those who made the health announcements are Supreme Court justices Dawn Beam and Robert Chamberlin; Court of Appeals judges Tony Lawrence and Deborah McDonald; chancery judges Vincent Davis of Fayette, Tiffany Grove of Raymond, Joseph Kilgore of Philadelphia, Jacqueline Mask of Tupelo, Bennie L. Richard of Greenville and Charles E. Smith of Meridian; circuit judges Kelly Luther of Ripley, Stanley Sorey of Raleigh, Chancellor; and Hinds County Court Judge Carlyn Hicks of Jackson.
Sorey said his wife, Lynn Sorey; his sister-in-law; and a friend and fellow judge died of COVID-19.
“Last October, I lost my wife of 27 years to COVID," Sorey said in the news release. "This was before the vaccine was available.”
Lynn Sorey was taken by ambulance to a hospital on Labor Day 2020. She died Oct. 8. Her sister, Lisa Headrick of Raleigh, died Sept. 12. Circuit Judge Eddie H. Bowen of Raleigh died Feb. 7.
Court of Appeals Judge Deborah McDonald said she had COVID-19 in June 2020 and quarantined alone in her house for 17 days.
“Thank God I didn’t have to be hospitalized,” McDonald said.
Grove said chancery courts “touch some of the hardest times that a family will to through," including divorces and child custody cases. She said a recent guardianship clinic had three families with children whose only parent had died of COVID.