The Tie that Affirms

January 15, 2019 § Leave a comment

It’s not often that an appellate case ends in a tie, but it does happen every now and then.

It happened in a recent COA case, Bounds v. Benson, et al., decided by the court on December 11, 2018.

Footnote 1 of the court’s opinion sets the stage:

Six judges of this Court recused themselves from participation in this case. Because a quorum of six judges is required to reach a decision, this Court asked the Chief Justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court to appoint two special judges to participate in the decision of this appeal pursuant to Mississippi Code Annotated section 9-1-105(1) (Rev. 2014). By order entered on July 27, 2018, the Chief Justice appointed Senior Status Judge Larry E. Roberts and Senior Status Judge William E. Gowan to serve as special judges for this case, including any motion for rehearing.

Griffis, Wilson, Westbrooks, and Tindell stuck around to participate. That means that Fair, Carlton, Lee, Greenlee, Barnes, and Irving bailed.

So the learned remnant of the COA convened, along with their special appointees, numbering six in all, and here is the entire per curiam opinion documenting what transpired:

¶1. The judgment of the Lafayette County Chancery Court is affirmed by an evenly divided Court. See Wise v. Valley Bank, 861 So. 2d 1029, 1033 (¶10) (Miss. 2003) (“We hold that when this Court is evenly divided, the order or judgment of the court from which the appeal is taken must be affirmed.”).

Yes, the lone footnote is longer than the opinion.

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