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In re Higginbotham

June 25, 1998

IN RE: RALPH HIGGINBOTHAM


EN Banc.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Banks, Justice, For The Court:

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 10/05/93

TRIAL JUDGE: HON. ROBERT LEWIS GIBBS

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: HINDS COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: WILBUR O. COLOM DEWITT T. HICKS

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL

BY: ROBERT E. SANDERS

JOHN C. HENEGAN

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - OTHER

¶1. Today, we are confronted with the question whether our circuit courts have jurisdiction to address claims of procedural irregularity in the implementation of our statutory scheme for the removal of certain officials and whether that scheme, as it applies to "judicial officers" offends the constitutional doctrine of separation of powers. We conclude that the circuit court correctly declined to exercise jurisdiction at the time and in the manner requested and that the statutory scheme does not violate the separation of powers provision of our constitution. Accordingly we affirm the judgment of the circuit court dismissing the official's action.

I.

¶2. Ralph Higginbotham appeals from of a decision by the Hinds County Circuit Court dissolving a temporary restraining order and dismissing his complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

¶3. On September 28, 1993 Higginbotham, filed a complaint against Governor Kirk Fordice, Lieutenant Governor Eddie Briggs, the three chancellors selected as a Removal Council and the Circuit Clerk and County Registrar for Noxubee County in the Circuit Court of Hinds County. Higginbotham claimed that his constitutional rights were violated by an order entered by the Lieutenant Governor, acting on behalf of Governor Fordice, convening a Removal Council for the purpose of considering whether there was a substantial basis for removing Higginbotham from his position as Supervisor of Noxubee County. Higginbotham, in his complaint as later amended ore tenus, prayed for recall of the proclamation entered by the Governor, and for a permanent stay ordering the Governor to refrain from convening a removal council. Higginbotham argued that the removal statute was unconstitutional and violated the separation of powers doctrine. He further argued that certain procedural steps in the statutory scheme had not been complied with and that he had been denied due process by the failure of the office of the governor to fully consider his objections to the certification of sufficient signatures to require removal.

ΒΆ4. In addition to the complaint, Higginbotham filed a motion for a temporary restraining order to restrain the execution of the Governor's order convening the removal council. The circuit court granted the motion and issued a temporary restraining order. The Governor filed a motion to dissolve the temporary restraining order and dismiss the complaint. Similar motions were also ...


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