Some Mississippi judges are urging people to follow their lead and get vaccinated to slow the spread of COVID-19 – an effort to keep the courts open.
Thirteen judges broadcast messages on television and radio, according to a press release from the state justice system. The effort was coordinated by the state health ministry.
“We need the public’s help to be able to do our jobs safely. We need the public’s help to protect our justice system, ”Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Mike Randolph said in the statement.
Randolph last week extended a pandemic safety order he originally set in early August. It allows judges to postpone jury trials until October 8. He says courts can continue to use teleconferencing, videoconferencing and electronic filing. They can also continue to use interactive audiovisual equipment to conduct remote hearings for pleadings or conviction 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 Appeal 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 colleague judge died of COVID-19.
“Last October, I lost my 27-year-old wife to COVID,” Sorey said in the press release. “This was before the vaccine was available.”
Lynn Sorey was taken by ambulance to hospital on Labor Day 2020. She passed away on October 8th. His sister, Lisa Headrick of Raleigh, died on September 12. Raleigh circuit judge Eddie H. Bowen died on February 7.
Court of Appeal Judge Deborah McDonald said she had COVID-19 in June 2020 and was quarantined alone at her home for 17 days.
“Thank goodness I didn’t have to be hospitalized,” McDonald said.
Grove said Chancery courts “touch some of the most difficult times a family can go 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.